Rewriting the Future of Food and Farming #2

To be able to propose structural changes for our current food system, we need knowledge, practicalities and vision. During Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed the Planet, we will use the participants’ knowledge to write the so-called Mansholt Letter to world leaders calling for radical change in the food system. We asked Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, Emily Mattheisen, Habitat International Coalition (Egypt), Pema Gyamtsho, former minister of Agriculture, Forest and Environment in Bhutan and Pablo Tittonell, professor of farming systems ecology at Wageningen UR (the Netherlands) about their visions of the future of food and farming, as well as to whom they would like to send a letter.

Carlo Petrini is the founder of the Slow Food Movement, a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. The movement has spread all over the world and is present in over 150 countries worldwide. The Slow Food Youth Network is part of this worldwide movement and has followers all over the world. The philosophy of food is not only tied to food itself, but also to many other aspects of life including culture, politics, agriculture and the environment. Through our food choices we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed and as a result bring about great change.

Carlo Petrini: “The idea, a new paradigm, of the historical letter of Sicco Mansholt, which had a great impact and which was very important for the environmental movement as well as for rural movements around the world. The content of that letter remains, for the most part, unrealized."

Emily Mattheisen works for a global network called Housing and land rights network, Habitat International Coalition. Her work is related to rights to housing, land and the city, and to food systems. Consequently she is focused on answering the question, "how can we create food systems of which the world and the urban poor or the world and urban marginalized populations benefit.

Emily: “I think there is a really big problem with how we discuss urbanization. The problem is not that we don’t have enough food, the problem is that…“ 

Pablo Titonell is a professor at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. He teaches students about farming systems ecology and together they are working on alternative solutions to the problems of agriculture.

Pablo: “I think the great problem with the Mansholt reform, that he came to realize at the end of his life, is the disaggregation of function. Normally we would say we would like to have a multifunctional landscape that produces food, energy, but it also holds biodiversity… All those functions have to be together in a landscape.”

Pema Gyamtsho was the former Minister of Agriculture, Forest and Environment in Bhutan and now he is the leader of the opposition in the parliament of Bhutan. However, when it comes to issues on (organic) agriculture, global warming and climate issues, amongst others, he supports the government.

Listen to Pema Gyamtsho’s ideas on the way sustainability always has had a place in our lives, how we have to change the way we eat, grow food and make our choices, and how we can contribute from particular projects and policies to develop a sustainable policy.

Pema Gyamtsho: “I don’t agree that developing countries should use the excuse of repeating the same mistakes that the developed countries, the industrialized nations, made.”

The Mansholt Letter is a project of Het Nieuwe Instituut in collaboration with Slow Food.