Eat, meet and connect at Food Politics!
Today, the Food Film Festival hosts the launch of Food Politics.eu. Food Politics is an international web campaign that aims to facilitate a public debate on the future of our food with a European dimension, mostly by using social media to connect online, but also offline - like today!
This morning, Food Politics started by dynamically introducing the invitees to each other, showing the immense diversity of the group. "You're supposed to feel out-of-place, because that means there's a lot of connecting to do!" says Josien, facilitator of the session. We were asked to organize ourselves hierarchically, based on age, how connected we felt in the group already, but also on how much growing of food we did ourselves. Not surprisingly, the minority of the group is professional food producer, or farmer, and the majority is grocery-shopper and home-cook. Most of us are in some way involved in decision-making about food, both in a public, or commercial environment. A quick round also revealed the many nationalities in the room - Germans, Greeks, French, Austrians, Italians, Bulgarians, Swedes and, of course, Dutch. In other words, lots of weak ties to strengthen!
Although I expected to talk to mostly farmers this morning, I ended up talking to a Parisian member of the Slow Food Youth Movement, an open-minded, experienced policymaker from Brussels, a student who organizes European conferences and an architect-planning-to-turn-farmer. Wow! Now I also better understand the onion-metaphor, used in Food Politics logo. An onion has a heart, and at the heart of the onion are all today's attendees - who, together, can connect to so many different networks, overarching the conventional divisions int the world of food, agriculture, but above all, policy-making.
The diversity of connectors today actually comes as no surprise, it's a joint effort. Food Politics is an initiative of the Nederlands Agrarisch Jongeren Kontakt (NAJK), the Youth Food Movement (YFM), and Netwerk Platteland, and was facilitated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. When asked what's so important about the collaborative mindset behind Food Politics Wilco de Jong, chairman of the NAJK, answered: "Why not? As farmers, we want to show the beauty of our work and share our enthusiasm." Joris Lohman, chairman of the Youth Food Movement, admitted it was only three years ago since he first met a farmer - "and it's important to keep this dialogue alive, that's exactly what we use social media for. I try to get as many farmers on Twitter as possible!" The afternoon program is about the power, and possibilities of social media, lowering the threshold to use them, and subsequently know how to use them effectively.
From today onwards, you can read and tweet about the future of food in Europe on www.foodpolitics.eu, and by using the hashtag #foodpolitics on Twitter!
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