A Food Tribunal in The Hague had to find an answer to the question ‘How to feed our future cities’. The jury found one: We need to be honest, open to the new and more social.
The Hague houses the seats of the Dutch government. Here national policies are written and content for European policies is collected and generated. Organizing exactly in this city a Food tribunal therefore seems to be a strategic action creating the possibility to really influence politics.
Stroom The Hague, a center for art and architecture, has executed the Foodprint program since 2009. They organized all kinds of activities which dealt with the influence of food on the structure, the culture and the functioning of the city. The activities were meant to make people aware of the relation between food and cities, evoke ideas to strengthen these and initiate projects to really make a change. After three years the city got amongst others a design for a real pig city, a food city guide, school gardens based on perm culture and a better relation with its food producing hinterland ‘het Westland’.
Everyone actively involved or interested in the Foodprint program was invited to visit the tribunal. Artists and architects presented visionary plans which were made under the commission of Stroom. The audience and a specially invited jury formed by among others YFM and a former Minister of Agriculture listened and commented. Although not all the plans are realized (yet), the center for art and architecture has been able to put food on the local and national political agenda again.
The projects presented were as diverse as the audience Stroom has attracted to the tribunal. A proposal like Pig City (a design for an enormous pig factory close to the city center) opens the discussion about the need to eat meat and all the consequences this might bring considering production, waste, reducing food miles and social and ethnic issue. Foodscape Schilderswijk (community gardens in a socially challenged area) unites people from different disciplines. For the first time artists, neighbors, gardeners, local government, schools and housing corporations all collaborated to reach the same goal. The area now positively develops into a more socially connected and healthy neighborhood. Park Supermarkt represents what our future supermarket could look like: An area where food production and consumption meet within reach of the city.
During the discussion afterwards it appeared many had an opinion about the plans presented. The tribunal and the final discussion showed that it is not going to be easy to create a new food system and that there is definitely not just one way to reach it. But this meeting showed again that food influences all of us and we all should have an opinion about it.
Before we agree on a national or European level you should therefore first define your individual vision on the relation between food and the place you live. Envision the role food should play in your life and act like this. Then discuss how your own food system could be incorporated in a system which is right for all. The jury’s proposalmight give you some hints.
Inge de Boer, Head of the CAP 2013 research team