19 SES 05, Rural Communities and Education
The proposal presents a reflection on fieldwork carried out in an “illegal” agricultural market in Walltown (Veneto region, Italy). Such project illustrates an aspect of the social and cultural changes that, in relation to food cultures, agriculture and produce distribution, have taken place in the Veneto region (but not only there, of course) since the late 1970s, namely the engagement of “antagonistic” movements in national and local initiatives in support of the environment, the right to nutrition and access to water sources, the protection of biodiversity, and against corporate agriculture and commodification of food in our unequal and crisis-ridden societies. Those movements have invested their anti-capitalistic identity in goals and concerns that are stated and shared both by a spiritual authority such as Pope Francesco (2015), by the founder of the Slow Food movement (Petrini 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015a, 2015b) and by a growing number of young people who either “return to the land” (cfr. Shiva et alii, 2014, Castaldi 2014), or foster “co-producing” (see Gobbo 2015), namely the alliance between producers and critical consumers (also known as “value chains”). Research began in July 2016 with participant observation and informal conversations with the producers every Saturday, and later with the collection of their stories. My goal was to understand the culture(s) of such a project that was initially connected to the network Genuino clandestino (Genuine Clandestine) that defines itself both as “territorial networks of farmers, artisans, students, workers, cooks, political activists, families that shop at clandestine (illegal) markets”, and as a “community fighting for food self-determination” and “food sovereignty”, besides stressing that it is an “antiracist, antifascist and antisexist movement”. Right after its foundation, in 2010, Genuino clandestino launched a campaign to denounce the unjust bureaucratic regulations that, by equalizing farmers’ products to those of the big food industry, make it impracticable for the former to sell them the legal way, and thus they are made them into “outlaws”. In its Manifesto, the following actions are singled out as “real alternatives to the capitalist system”:
1) to support and disseminate the (small) farmers’ agricultural work and cultures, since they protect the earth by not using pesticides, fertilizers and GMO;
2) to process and distribute food through participatory self-control, in order to free farmers from the agribusiness and the official system of certification …;
3) to support the principle of food self-determination …;
4) to safeguard the agricultural and food heritage, by putting a stop to the extinction of biodiversity and the resulting monocultural levelling down;
5) to build an alliance between urban and rural movements with the aim to reconnect urban and rural life … .
Therefore it is not surprising that the Walltown Saturday market is hosted in the “free zone” of a well know local “antagonistic” social center; yet, most of the producers narrated that they had joined the market because of their commitment to food sovreignity and to consumers’ food awareness raising, rather than because of strong anti-capitalistic beliefs (Gobbo 2016). Since returning to the market at the end of November, I have chosen to complement my observations and stories collecting by paying attention to the consumers’ reasons for patronizing the market, on the one hand, and, on the other, by considering how a native ethnographer (who on market Saturdays also turns into a consumer) navigates a cultural context to which different meanings and purposes are assigned depending on a producer’s ideological commitment rather than on his/her personal involvement with seeding, planting and cultivating the land.
1. Castaldi P. (2014), Chilometri ZERO. Viaggio nell’Italia dell’economia solidale, BeccoGiallo, Sommacampagna (VR). [0km. Journey into Italy’s Ethical Economy] 2. Gobbo F. (2015), “Nourishing Learning, Nurturing Culture, Cultivating Justice”, in G. W. Noblit, W. T. Pink eds., Education, Equity, Economy: Crafting a New Intersection, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 25-50. 3. Gobbo F. (2016), “Cultured Fields”: Educating Consumers, Learning to Eat “Good, Clean and Fair” (2016 AAA conference, Minneapolis, November 15-20, 2016) 4. Petrini C. (2005), Buono, pulito e giusto. Principi di una nuova gastronomia, Einaudi, Torino. [Good, Clean and Fair. Principles of a New Gastronomy] 5. Petrini C. (2009), Terra Madre. Come non farci mangiare dal cibo, Giunti & Slow Food Editore, Firenze/Bra (CN). [Mother Earth. How not to Be Eaten by Food] 6. Petrini Ca. (2014), Cibo e libertà. Slow Food: storie di gastronomia per la liberazione, Firenze/Bra (CN), Giunti & Slow Food Editore. 7. Petrini C. (2015a), “Guida alla lettura”, in Pope Francesco (2015), Laudato si. Enciclica sulla cura della casa comune, San Paolo, Milano [Guide to reading the encyclical]. 8. Petrini C. (2015b), “Will 2016 usher a new environmental paradigm?”, originally published in Il manifesto, Dicembre 31, 2015. 9. Pope Francesco (2015), Laudato si. Enciclica sulla cura della casa comune, San Paolo, Milano [On Care of Our Common Home. Laudato si’] 10. Shiva et alii (2014), “Agricoltura. Ritorno alla terra”, supplemento de il manifesto, 23 ottobre 2014. [Agriculture. The Return to the Land]
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