Sitopia for the hungry and malnourished people<br />Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem<br />University of Ghent (Belgium)<br />I have been reading with great interest the short article of Carolyn STEEL, author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives (Random House, £8.99), entitled 'Ideas for modern living: sitopia' and published by The Observer:<br /> HYPERLINK "
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/01/carolyn-steel-sitopia-food<br />I like very much her point on people in the developed world taking food for granted, treating it as something to be made cheap and convenient 'while we get on with “more important” things'. She rightly puts that “cheap food” is an expensive illusion and suggests using food as a tool to shape a better world.<br />For Carolyn STEEL creating SITOPIA, or food-place (from the Greek sitos, food + topos, place), is achievable, but it should be a better food-place than that we are already living in, 'closer to the sorts of places and societies in which we actually want to live'. She calls the food’s influence on our life so profound that it is practically synonymous with life itself, which makes it far too powerful to be left in the wrong hands of companies dominating the food-producing world.<br />So far so good for the developed world. But what about the developing world, where more than one billion people are hungry or malnourished?<br />How to create SITOPIA for them?<br />I agree with Carolyn that here again we shouldn't leave (or put) food production in the wrong land-grabbing hands. For me, food production in the developing world should not be orchestrated by the international decision-makers. Regional, national and even local expertise is strong enough to come up with the best plans to construct a SITOPIA FOR THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.<br />Fortunately, signals have been given recently at the highest levels (UNO, FAO, IFAD, WFP, CGIAR, ICARDA etc.) that the combat of hunger and malnutrition should be organized with the smallholder farmers and, in particular, their women. Their SITOPIA has to be the home of the individual families, not that of the industrial companies with huge economic and financial interests.<br />Hunger and malnutrition should be banned from SITOPIA by that army of smallholder farmers with the logistic and strategic help of the international, national and non-governmental aid organizations or foundations. Family kitchen gardens are the most powerful weapons to win that war.<br />Locally produced food should be used in the first place to ban hunger and child malnutrition, not for export to make the Sitopia of the developed world better. Food produced in the developing countries should be cheap enough to make the life of the local people better, not for making the daily life in the developed world more agreeable, joyful and delicious.<br />A Sitopia for the developing world is easier to achieve than the one for the developed world. Let's concentrate on maximal investment in local fresh food production for daily consumption by the producers themselves.<br />