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TEDxKrakow – Jadwiga Łopata – Food Sovereignty and the Family Farm – the Polish Example


Translator: Krystian Aparta
Reviewer: TED Translators admin So, good morning, one more time. I said it’s strange
for me to speak English to a Polish [audience],
I guess, the majority. But I was asked to speak English. So, I will speak today
about food sovereignty and family [farming],
based on the Polish example. It’s not working. So I first want to say that my talk is based
on my life experiences. And I am 56 [years] old. And I grew up on a small family farm. And now I also have a family farm. I’ve run this farm for 15 years. And [it’s also based] on the 7 principles
of food sovereignty from Via Campesina. A document from
European Coordination Via Campesina “Towards a Common Agriculture
and Food Policy 2013.” Via Campesina is an international movement with 150 organizations
from more than 60 countries, all over the world. And “via campesina” means “peasant way.” So what is “food sovereignty”? Often, we hear from politicians, from representatives of corporations, from clerks, about food security. And they use the name “food security,” and recently, very much,
“genetically modified organism,” GMO, to control the food chain. So, what about GMOs? Why don’t we like them? All over the world, there are protests, and organizations, farmers, consumers, who are protesting against GMOs. And corporations
are very heavily promoting GMOs as a solution to world hunger,
and climate change, a solution to everything. It’s not true. In fact, GMOs are causing
not only health problems for people and animals, destroying the environment, but also causing very serious
social and economic problems for small family farmers, millions of family farmers
all over the world. So that’s why farmers,
producers and consumers are protesting. And because of corporations pretending that they want
to feed the world, and they never discuss why, in this world, where we produce
enough food, we produce too much food,
we destroy a lot of food, tons and tons of food
are destroyed every day — Why does hunger exist at all? And corporations are supported
by big international organizations like the World Trade Organization, like the World Bank, like the International Monetary Fund. And the goal is to control
food chain production. And that’s why, because these are
international corporations, and international organizations, also international rules have to stop it. So we have to realize
that food sovereignty is a basic human right. And we are tending to forget that food, first of all,
is the source of our nutrition. And then, after a long gap, it is secondarily an item of trade. And the farm is not a production line. It’s a way of living. Via Campesina, in [its] seven principles
of food sovereignty, says: “Everyone must have access
to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food, in sufficient quantity and quality
to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity.” Yes, “full human dignity.” How far have we gone from this… And food sovereignty
entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources,
especially land, water, seeds and livestock breeds. Yes, we have to realize
that natural resources, such as land, water, seeds
and traditional animals are our common wealth, our common treasure. So, that means that we, the people, at the local level, in the local community, should decide about agricultural policy, about how we produce food,
and what we produce, and what we will eat every day. Like here, in this picture,
we are eating great food, made from vegetables
collected just one hour before from the field, and cooked
and served very nicely. So the basic food
should be produced locally, where possible. And then, low-cost imports
shouldn’t be allowed. And international rules
should support this approach. It seems like it is a very simple solution to produce food for local needs, for the local community, and sell this food to local people. So we are wondering why it doesn’t happen. Why did we allow big corporations,
big supermarkets to decide what is on our plates. Why do we want to eat unhealthy food? Do we want to eat junk food? Do we want to be ill? I’m sure no one wants to be ill, and everyone wants to live in a great,
healthy environment. So we have to realize that food production is also very much related
to the environment. So we have to change this. And the question is,
what does this have to do with Poland? The answer is very simple. In Poland, we have a beautiful
traditional farming system, which is not backwards, not old-fashioned, but, in fact, is very up-to-date. And I often work
with international organizations, and I recently learned, for example, that France and England
are doing a big effort to change their agriculture
into the so-called “normal agriculture.” What is this “normal agriculture”
for them? “Normal agriculture” is equal
to our traditional way of agriculture. So why are we saying
that our agriculture system is bad? Why do we let ourselves believe [that]? And thanks to these great,
traditional methods of agriculture, we have very rich biodiversity. We are very proud
that [one in four storks] on this planet is Polish, has Polish nationality. (Applause) So, let’s visit Poland. The basic information about Poland. We have almost 39 million people. 16 big provinces, 23 national parks, many landscape parks. And 1.5 million family farms. Great, really fantastic people. Very knowledgeable. Living a very ecological way of life. People from whom one can learn a lot. And the majority of these farmers — keep in mind, 1.5 million. The majority of these farmers use traditional and ecological
methods of farming. That means, always very recyclable, nothing is wasted on the farm. They use methods of neighboring plants. There is rotation. All of what was done in the past, and which is very much supported now by the modern way of agriculture, which is called “ecological agriculture.” But one has to keep in mind
that ecological agriculture is just very much based
on the traditional way of farming. This is only a modern name
for traditional farming. So these people
are [living] an ecological way of life. And based on their wisdom of generations, they know, from generation to generation, how to protect and [preserve] the land, how to care with loving heart
about the land. And it is still natural
that all farmers in Poland make [preserves] for winter, and store food in a traditional way. And then, the lady farmer’s kitchen
is the best laboratory, the best place to learn
how to make good quality food, how to [serve] food, how to store food. And also, from these farmers, we can learn the so-called
vanishing occupations. Thousands of Polish farmers
still know how to make baskets, how to make Easter [palms], how to make clothes,
how to build a traditional house. And this is our treasure. We have to realize
that in [most] countries, this has already been lost. We have around a million [draft] horses. And Polish people are very lucky that they have farmers
who can still work with [draft] horses. Because, for example,
in Western countries, in America, they [invest] a lot of energy,
and spend lot of money, trying to get this knowledge back. And Polish people are lucky
that we have wise farmers, who are passing their wisdom to children. Not only by theory, but also by practical experience. And in fact, one cannot learn this wisdom
at school, in [college]. One should get this wisdom
from another person. The wisdom has to be passed
from one person to another. And thanks to these farmers,
we have very beautiful landscapes, which are very attractive to tourists. So, another economical benefit. Tourists are coming to Poland
for the rich biodiversity, tourists are coming to Poland because we have very beautiful landscapes. And the farm is also a great place
for children to grow up. [There], they learn the values
which really matter in life, and the skills which are very necessary
in their lives. So, it is up to us whether these farmers
will produce more food and reach their full capacity. Because so far, now they produce
mainly for their families. And why? The reason is simple. They can’t sell their food. What irony that they can’t sell
their good-quality food. So, we have to change. We have to change, and the question is, how can we do it? Actually, the answer is very simple, because it is up to us
how to organize ourselves. It is up to the consumers to support traditional
and organic farmers, to buy, to organize,
and shorten this food chain, which will end in there being
a direct link between consumers and producers. A lot of different methods
can be established where groups of consumers
are organizing themselves, and cooperate with a group of farmers, getting very good-quality food
for a very cheap price. And I am witnessing this. And the other very important solution is to put different solutions
into economy, which are pro-ecological. And here, we have an old house
with solar panels for heating water. It doesn’t mean that I want to keep
the Polish countryside old-fashioned, no. I want the Polish countryside
to be very modern, using all the 21st-century technology, photovoltaic modules, ecological houses, energy from the sun, from the wind, a special shape which is energy-saving. And all that can be done. And it’s all up to us, the consumers, to decide where our money,
taxpayer money, will be put. And we have to demand from our government that our money be put
into what is good for us, what is good for our health, and what is good for our environment. The Polish countryside can produce energy, renewable energy. Buy at the local level,
and use it at the local level. This is another thing
which needs proper regulation. So, we can do a lot. And probably everyone will say, “Oh, small farms are not economical.” I’ve heard this a thousand times. OK, then I’m going to say
we have to change our approach, we have to change our counting. Not count the tons
of something per hectare, but count the quality and variety of food. And we have to [include] in our counting the cost of the destruction
of the environment, which is caused
by big agriculture farming. We have to count the cost
of different social problems, which we are facing because of destroying
small family-farming. The opposition to family farms
which produce very good-quality food, and thanks to their methods of farming we also have a very nice environment. And there is no problem. These farms are the workplace
for millions of people. So, another very important point, farmers don’t need subsidies. They need good regulation. They need facilities
where they can sell their food for a real price. And this is what they demand. And we have to decide what we want to get, and how we want to get [it]. If we want to have good-quality food. I can hear a question.
“It’s too expensive.” No, it’s not expensive, because quality food has a real price. Junk food, which we buy in supermarkets, we pay at least 2, 3, or 4 times. We are paying for the food, we are paying for the doctor,
because this food makes us sick. We are paying for cleaning
the environment. We are paying with social problems, for example, the unemployment
of the small farmers, who are losing their jobs. So, if we want real food, if we want biodiversity, if we want freedom, we have no other option
than to support Polish family farmers, and support small family farmers
all over the world. And I think it is a big pleasure
to support them. And they will feed us with a loving heart, as they have done for centuries. Thank you very much. (Applause) Paul Klipp: Thank you very much.
Jadwiga Łopata: I brought some samples. For you to decide. (Applause) This is great bread
from a traditional farmer. Very hard, good quality, healthy, from good grain. P.K.: Did you bring enough for everybody?
J.Ł.: And this is supermarket bread. In plastic, full of chemicals, GMOs. So, up to you to decide. (Applause)

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