Marching for Good Food in Brussels
Yesterday I joined farmers, food producers, beekeepers, foodies and campaigners from right across Europe, along with a couple of fellow WDM group members, on the final day of the Good Food March in Brussels. It was a cold sunny day as hundreds of people, some of whom had been part of delegations traveling to Brussels on bikes and tractors from different corners or Europe over the preceding weeks, gathered in the city centre. We then headed off, a tractor leading the way, to deliver a photo petition to representatives from the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.
A tour of these venerable (though dull-sounding) European institutions on a Wednesday morning may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the vibrant mix of people passionate about good food and farming made up for that. The purpose of the march was to highlight our demands for a more sustainable food and farming system that could be delivered through the current reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP is one of the most significant pieces of pan-European legislation, costing about 40% of the total EU budget and is due to be reformed by 2013. Among other things, the Good Food March is calling for fairer and greener farming, an end to food speculation, support for sustainable family farms – especially organic farming – fair prices for farmers, a grassroots based rural development policy and increased cultivation of local protein crops, rather than importing soy to feed Europe's farm animals.
As part of the growing food sovereignty movement in the UK, WDM has been highlighting the issue of food speculation and its role in our current unsustainable food system. When we arrived at the European Parliament our little delegation met with Jean Lambert MEP, the only one of London’s 8 MEPs who agreed to a meeting, to explain the issues to her and encourage her to support our demands. As a Green MEP, she said that many of these demands correspond to Green Party policy.
We then enjoyed an organic, seasonal local lunch on the plaza in front of the European Parliament before speeches, workshops and presentations from representatives of the European institutions and the organizations involved in the March. Dacian Ciolos, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development has a very significant role to play in the CAP reform process and was one of the speakers. Let’s hope he also listened hard yesterday and understands and responds to these important demands for a fairer more sustainable food system.
Veronica is the coordinator of the North and East London World Development Movement local group.