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Head, Heart and HANDS

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 13:55

Yesterday I went along to the Growers and Eaters Forum in Bendigo, central Victoria. Compared to the National Sustainable Food Summit (NSFS) I attended a few weeks back in Sydney, this was a breath of fresh, innovative and progressive air.

While the big industry voices were heard loud and clear at the NSFS, the voices talking about healthier ways of growing, distributing and engaging with out food were a definite minority. Personally, I don’t think we need to hear about big industry and their agenda to keep business as usual, with a twist of ‘green’ thrown in for good PR.

We don’t need to potter around the edges of our paddocks and politics to fix our current food system; we just need to get rid of it, transform it and start again.

But don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to reinvent or rebuild the wheel, we just need to get in touch with our common sense and a few seasoned experts who are part of the 2% of the world who feed us (also known as farmers). Some of these experts include Michael Ableman, Kirsten Larsen, Chris Ennis and Peta Christenson – all long-time activists and/or farmers who were present at the Growers and Eaters Forum.

And what is it they would guide us in thinking and doing? Well, I can’t speak for them – but the strong themes coming through all of them was the need for people to use their heads, hearts AND HANDS to actively re-engage with our food system and not just philosophise and debate about it.

For while there has been a drastic increase in awareness in what’s wrong with our food system this hasn’t always correlated into action.

“In the end there is not so much a food crisis as there is a crisis in participation. The real shift we need cannot take place when only two percent of us are doing the work to grow the food for the rest, while everyone else is cheering us on. We love the attention, but farming is not a spectator sport,” Michael Ableman.

So while our heads are realising things aren’t as they should be and our hearts our sensing there’s a better way, it’s our hands that will actually create the solutions.

The Growers and Eaters Forum was organised by Cultivating Community and Slow Food Melbourne

Hannah Moloney traveled to Tanzania and Uganda with ActionAid in July 2011 as part of the Hunger Busting Blogger training program. She maintains full editorial independence and, therefore, all views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily represent those of ActionAid.