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With Malcomidos he investigated the food industry in depth. Now Soledad Barruti is preparing a second book on the relationship of that industry -every time in fewer hands- with the new generations of the entire continent.
He wrote a great book. There are those who think that it is only about what we eat or should eat. ButSpoiledis much more:a thorough investigation within the food industry, to the productive forms imposed and to the political agreements that do not pay attention to the needs of the people.
NowSoledad Barruti It is endinganother book. It will be published in August and goes further: the relationship of this industry with the new generations in Latin America. "There is a region that is experiencing the same process of converting its food culture towards an increasingly emphatic supermarket culture. It's about that, to understand what we are leaving to the boys ”.
Did you manage to make the change, you no longer go to the supermarket?
No, unless I run out of pebbles for the cat or toilet paper. When you begin to understand the system, you no longer go. Everything is like this. Even the toothpaste… When you read what they have, not only is it not necessary to buy Colgate, but it is not good to buy that. Everything is done so that, with the least possible investment, they have the highest profit. With terrible ingredients, mostly chemical compounds to make you believe that you are carrying what the packaging says. They sell you anything all the time. And people put detergent in their hair and think that will give it flight. It is not true that there are no options. There are, and delicious and natural.
Sometimes the rhythm of the city makes that search difficult.
No, you have to jump in and it's all there. I really never had to go to a supermarket again.
Would that be a first step?
Yes, the supermarket is the worst possible scenario to buy food. The first step for anything. To get out of alienation, to be happy, to realize that this is not right. But then what do you do? Obviously people, in desperation for price, the first thing they do is look for cheaper prices. But that doesn't free you from a bunch of other problems that food brings. There needs to be a certain ethic around food, a certain projection of something better. For example, going to the Central Market, surely you are going to buy cheaper, and you realize what the owners of Carrefour are cheating you. But in the Central Market they are also cheating the producer, the worker. There is a great permanent scam in the field, in which one looking only for price, is inevitably complicit.
And besides, we keep eating shit.
And yes, if you buy an egg maple at 30 pesos ... Because there is such a price, but how were those eggs produced? What is the true price of those eggs? It is seen every time a specific investigation is made on the subject. Behind those eggs are enslaved people, lots of crammed animals, lots of agrochemicals to control those animals, who are given shitty food. It ends up resulting in a shitty egg. And all of that is around the price. Obviously we are in a country with 40 percent poverty and there are a lot of people who cannot get out of that, or who cannot even access those eggs. They access flour, oil, sugar and with that they do magic. But also now with more information about the ingredients, when you go to the neighborhoods you start to see other types of organization ...
The assembly of orchards, for example. Most of them are people who come from knowing how to work the land, and they have not severed ties with it. They can use their resources to generate a different reality. There are super interesting orchards in the villas, a lot. All of those things are better. And then work cooperatives, like Iriarte Verde and many others, that bet on another form of economy. What they are proposing is "let's not pay misery wages and let's not ask misery prices for our products." We have the responsibility to think about diets around our ethical system and ask ourselves: Can you eat meat every day and look for the best price? The answer is no. That is why you have to think of different menus. It is possible if you leave the supermarket and stop buying cookies. The economic balance in that sense begins to change: what happens is that we are prisoners of a diet that is not good, and that is expensive.
And at the same time we feed a business in fewer and fewer hands.
Business concentration, the large corporate conglomerate occurs at all levels that touch our food. You have ten major brands that handle consumption in gondolas, and three seed companies that concentrate the agrochemicals and seeds business. They were concentrating. Before there were ten, now there are three. When I got the book it was Monsanto and Bayer, now it's Monsanto-Bayer. There was Syngenta and ChemChina, now they are ChemChina-Syngenta. They come together, and most likely one day they will only be one. And the more that corporation is saved, the more monster it becomes.
And more violent.
More and more, and one sees that the system installs without any problem. For example, the murder of leaders and activists inland, in Latin America. They kill 120 per year. Only in Amazonas, in Brazil, they kill 90 people per year. They are indigenous and peasants who want to stay in defense of their territory. And when they kill them, they run them off. And who appears next? Mining companies, oil companies and especially agribusiness. It is highly proven that when the earth changes hands, we all lose. And there are few tools to defend that. That the defense falls only to NGOs is not an option either. Most of the big NGOs also end up making deals with the big companies. So when you look at that scene, it's very sad. There is a town in Córdoba (Colazo) that is being swallowed up by the ground. It is melting because the amount of soybeans is so great and how the water tables have changed. It's terrible ... And then you go into a supermarket and you see that people are anesthetized, they don't see it.
In Malcomidos we can see how, beyond many progressive policies, Kirchnerism did nothing more than deepen the agribusiness model. Now, above, Etchevehere is in charge of the Ministry of Agroindustry ...
It is an underline of them. The idea that development imposes a productive model is absolutely wrong and suicidal, but it is the model that all governments in the region have. Even Evo's. You go to Bolivia and they tell you that there is no transgenic soy, but I flew in several small planes and you see hectares and hectares of soy. And they did not stop deforesting, that is why now the entire north is flooded. And you walk through the towns and the food is delicious but what people eat is the same shitty, industrial chicken. With the same potato, the same Coca Cola. There is this idea that only industry and agribusiness provide jobs and that the other is a setback. And that we are permanently developing countries and that development is achieved by these means. There are people who within that speech can seem a little less sinister, and people like Etchevehere, who say, "oh well, they put the Joker". What yes at least is more evident. The thing about Kirchnerism is that there were a lot of really confused good souls.
What do you mean?
They did not understand. For example, I went to a lot of media outlets and everything was fine in all of them, but the only place where I was lowered three times was on Channel 7. I was invited to a program and someone called and I had to leave. I was on Channel 13, on Metro -even sponsored by Monsanto-, and on the number of channels, but on Channel 7, during Kirchnerism, it was impossible to talk about certain things, such as agribusiness.
How much does the media have to do with not talking about what to talk about in terms of the food system?
On the one hand, there is obviously the commercial convenience of having only one way to develop business around food production and everything that is our diet. That is and is evident, there are the agribusiness supplements of the newspapers, there are the brands as sponsors of the journalistic spaces. But it's a bit biased reading. Because that is the media, but then there are journalists, who are individuals who, the vast majority of us like our profession, we like what we do, and in that sense what I found as I progressed in the communication of the work that had In fact, it was the opposite. A huge opening, in different spaces and a great reception. Obviously there are people in denial everywhere, who are not interested in the subject and who prefer to stay with the Cormillot version of life.
What would the Cormillot version of life be?
Food with calories, that there is no other way to feed the world than this, but people would starve. All that great lying version that makes us believe that there is no other way out is installed in many people.
Are there public policies in the region to reduce consumption in supermarkets or really eat better?
Communication yes. In Brazil, in Chile they are doing a lot from the Ministry of Health. Chile made a whole system of stamps to label the food and explain to the population that it had ultra-processed food. Brazil made diets that govern public policies that seek to discourage people from going to supermarkets and asking them to go to markets. Also interesting is the purchasing plan from cooperatives in São Paulo, where the government itself becomes a buyer and gives privileges to those who are producing with agroecology or organic. And that is the food for the school canteens. All that is. But at the same time, in Chile at the same time the salmon companies are mega forts, the mining companies are mega forts. In Brazil agribusiness not to mention. They are eating the whole jungle and they are doing havoc.
RAFAEL NAHUEL, THE "INVISIBLE" CRIME
“The native peoples are the reserve that we have left. The reserve of knowledge, seeds, everything ", says Soledad Barruti with some resignation, precisely to see how they are treated in our country:" It is as if they do not exist, nobody cares. Santiago Maldonado was white and everyone was there. And although you can have doubts and you can even talk about evidence, a crack and a lot of things, the truth is that when Rafael Nahuel was shot in the back - which is even more sinister, because there is all the test there-, there was no march, nobody concentrated, it was not Trend Topic on Twitter. Nothing happened. Darío Aranda remembers, who is a tireless journalist on these issues, ten more, and the left from time to time. And that's it. It is a crisis of meaning. There is an important invisibility all the time ”.
By Maxi Goldschmidt