Having a radical mindset can help seek out what needs to be created for improving social well-being. Much of the time, an artist creates work in which they believe should be placed in society, either as a solution or to spread awareness to a concept that is bigger than themselves. Ron Finley calls himself an artist and he uses gardening as his graffiti (Finley, 2013). When he was given citations and then a warrant for his arrest for turning streets of weeds and trash into community gardens in South Central L.A., he fought against the system (Finley, 2013). His deviance against his city led to a change in the law and allowed him to continue to grow these gardens. Emile Durkheim, a famous sociologist, theorized deviance and it's importance to society. One of her concept includes how deviance is a response to when something is wrong with society and that deviance sparks social change (Lamb). Finley's deviance comes from him seeing how his city is littered with fast food, food desserts, and tomatoes coated with shellac, a coating usually used for wood (The Ron, 2015). His radical mindset allowed him to imagine a world he wanted to live in, create it, and then live in it, which are Sellar's three steps to becoming an artist to spark a movement. The concept of psycho-sustainability can incorporate these steps; using your mind for wondering how you can work with the slow food movement. Then you can positively nourish your body with food from local farms. From this, your engagement in your community will increase, expanding and connecting your soul with like-minded individuals.
Maya has told me how her radical mindset gives her an advantage. As a local organic farmer, if she was to think "rationally", the quickest and easiest option would suffice for many situations. But not for Maya. As a farmer, she is an artist that sees the earth as her canvas and uses her shovel as her paintbrush. From growing a quarter acre garden to two acres (Dailey), Maya has expanded her canvas to places that need a way to spark creation, like elementary schools. From her roles in the farmer's market, CSA, and teaching classes for students, she has shown the type of leadership that can keep the slow food movement strong in our community.
Dana, Emily, Julia, George, Vittorio, and I after planting.
Vittorio Giacomini has very similar traits to Maya, an organic farmer whose values, connection to the land, and work ethic shows in the produce he grows. From working on Maya's Farm to working on Biocontadino with Vittorio, I have gained experience that will translate to every aspect of my life. Much of the work I did was very similar to the jobs I did at Maya's, from hoeing to planting and fixing things up around the farm.
Vittorio would tell us, "Hoeing is better than watering", because it allows the movement of the soil to help the growth of the produce.
While working, there were small differences between how Maya's Farm operates and Biocontadino. For example, after harvesting his garlic, Vittorio leaves it out in the sun to dry. He does not collect the weeds he pulls out. Instead, he leaves them in the soil, using them as a biological fertilizer. There also seemed to be less weeds at Biocontadino than at Maya's Farm. With one certain weed, porchacia, Maya collects it, while Vittorio does not. Dealing with weeds on an organic farm is a constant problem and involves much more work to go through in removing them.
Garlic being left out to dry.
For these small-scale organic farmers, many of the times they have to do it themselves because finding extra hands can be an issue. From working with Maya, she only had the help of two other men consistently and from her friends at other times. Although Vittorio did not come from a family of farmers, he relies on his family to help him when he needs it. It is difficult to find workers who are willing to meet the demands of working on an organic farm. In some parts of Itlay, farms will exploit immigrant workers, similar to how immigrant workers are exploited in the United States.
In Puglia, migrant workers are exploited working in the tomato fields. They live in makeshift communities, in the "Runway Ghetto" of Foggia, working long hours and making far below the minimum wage (D'Agostino, 2018).
A makeshift community hosting immigrants from Pakistan, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Romania, and Africa (D'Agostino, 2018).
The system is corrupt from the middlemen who employ them called "Caporali" (gangmasters) (D'Agostino, 2018). Local farmers will go to the Caporali to find the immigrant workers for cheap hands, but the Caporali will charge the immigrant workers for transport to the fields, water, food, and take part of their wages (D'Agostino, 2018). This kind of exploitation is basically like treating the immigrants as slaves, hidden by the concept of fresh produce that boost the local economies. However, this concept disrupts the balance of the slow food movement, where it demands fair trade and wage for workers. In Carlo Petrini's book, Terra Madre, he sees how money is becoming the way to build happiness, and that food is no longer being produced to be eaten, rather it is being produced to be sold (Petrini, p. 62). So while strolling around the markets in Puglia to obtain fresh produce, it is important to know exactly where it comes from and who are the farmers working with the food, to enhance your community wisdom and do your part in obtaining fair trade for food. Small-scale organic farmers are becoming a solution to this, and now there are more ways to connect and buy directly from them.
CSA & GAS
Much like CSA (community supported agriculture) is becoming widely used here in the states, there is a program similar in Italy called, GAS (gruppo d’acquisto solidale). The mission is to buy organic and biodynamic, ethically correct food that will leave a low environmental impact. Having these types of programs to make it easy for consumers to connect with farmers and make alliances with them, growing the food community to new levels (Petrini, p.36). When more consumers join this movement, Carlo Petrini describes the consumers turning into coproducers, (p.36) as they know first hand where their food is coming from. By doing this, it helps individuals in a community to learn who their local farmers are, what type of produce grows in their area, and support their local economy. Italy has many small towns that show strong support for their local farmers, including one called Varese Ligure. This town is an example of how small towns are able to be an example of sustainability. Because of how small the town was, farmers could not even afford chemical fertilizers, so they were farming out of tradition, and the town recognized this (Guevara-Stone, 2014). With 108 organic farms around the Vara Valley, they supply 98% of the town's food (Guevara-Stone, 2014). The towns success keeps improving from educating schoolchildren so they keep to past traditions, but also learn new ways to being sustainable.
The Cultural Perspective of Food
After being in Italy for seven weeks, it was apparent that the diet of Italians was very different than the diet of Americans. From breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, Italians ate well. Part of the reason for this is the time they took to eat. The more you dive into looking how Italians eat food, you realize that food is not just a meal, but it is a culture. The way you cook, eat, and connect with others over food shows the importance it has on their everyday life, whereas in the United States, food has taken the backseat to our busy lives. Since food is necessary to live though, Americans will tend to look for the cheapest and quickest way possible to obtain it, forgetting what real food actually is. So to this point, its no wonder why the United States ranks 19th in the world for total population percentage of obese individuals and 1st for total number of obese individuals in a country (obseity website). Italy on the other hand, is ranked 90th in total population percentage of obese individuals. The overwhelming difference of these numbers may come from the way Americans choose what foods to eat.
This diagram developed by Jane Ogden in her book, "The Psychology of Eating" (2010), demonstrates three different models that factor into our food choices.
In her book The Psychology of Eating, Jane Ogden demonstrates how food choice begins to develop at a young age. One way is through exposure of the food. In a psychological study about youth intake through the exposure of "threatening foods", (like vegetables) the more exposure of that food was linked to preferring that food (Ogden, 2010). It was also shown the more foods that were introduced to a child, the less number of exposures it took for the child to like the food (Ogden, 2010). Education kids early to healthy foods can help them develop these foods into a norm of their everyday diet as they grow up.
Campaign logo among schools in the Marche region (Regione Utile).
The Marche region is also promoting sustainable eating among schoolchildren, using campaigns that appeal to kids early, so it can help them treat eating sustainably as a social norm. It's slogan, "Eat well, grow healthy as a fish" (Regione Utile), incorporates the importance of local organic agriculture and introduces fresh fish in school. Becoming familiar with these concepts at an early age can improve the cultural aspect that food has on the Marche region, and is a great tool to use to promote local foods in other regions of Italy and even the United States.
However, the same effects can be reversed if children are constantly exposed to fast food restaurants and other unhealthy foods. And with almost 50,000 fast food chains in America (World Rankings, 2017), it's no wonder why the U.S. is where it is at with obesity. Many times we give into the quickest and cheapest way possible to feed our bodies. By doing this, Petrini concludes the term "We eat food" has turned into "We are eaten by food" (Petrini, p. 43). This is through how eating food in an unsustainable way causes the quick consumption of the earth's resources with no chance of renewal (Petrini, p.43). However, these issues have been becoming apparent in the eyes of many people and awareness is starting to be spread.
One way that awareness is being spread is through large expos, specifically in Italy that deal with the rights people have to food. In the Milan Charter of 2015, they list one of the rights that food has a strong cultural value and should not be tampered with my economic or political pressure (Rights, 2015). Food can be a symbol of a culture, and should not be changed because of media views, price scandals, or unfair political acts. Another right it lists is about conserving the biodiversity of the land through agricultural for the protection of sustainable lands (Rights, 2015). It seems in many ways we see the land in which we grow food on as a straight line where we can use chemicals and treat it any way we want. This is not the case, as many organic farmers already know. The land has to be treated in a full circle mentality, where what we take out, we give back. From working with Maya and Vittorio, I see how they have this cycle in place, not only giving back to the land, but their community as well.
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