On March 23rd, a kickoff meeting for “Shoku to Nou no Mirai Kaigi, Kyoto (Council for Future of Food and Agriculture, Kyoto; CFFA Kyoto)” was held at mumokuteki hall in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto. CFFA Kyoto is an open platform for Kyoto residents to approach the food-related issues from their own perspectives and explore possible strategies and solutions. Anyone who is interested in the food-related issues is welcome to join!
Two themes for this first meeting were “promoting organic produce” and “promoting Kodomo-Shokudo (children’s cafeteria).” Organic produce is priced higher compared to non-organic one, resulting that those working with limited budget, including Kodomo-Shokudo, are unable to use. Those involved in organic produce, including organic farmers, distributers and retailers and those who work for Kodomo-Shokudo, might rarely be encountered in a regular market channel. At this meeting, these two different groups of people were brought together with the objective to network and build a cooperative relationship, and work together as residents of Kyoto. A total of 32 people were gathered from various food-related sectors including organic farmers, distributors and retailers, organizers of Kodomo-Shokudo, staff from Food Bank project, students, researchers and so forth.
The first half of the meeting was dedicated to group discussion. The participants were divided into two groups according to the aforementioned themes, and the representatives explained the current situations and challenges. In the “organic produce” group, one of the issues raised during the discussion was how to deliver the products to consumers – distribution. With the changes in consumers’ lifestyle, the demand for direct delivery to individual households is increasingly high in comparison to the “teikei-style” delivery, or collective purchasing and delivery based on a producer-consumer partnership. A representative from the organic farming sector pointed out that this shift had caused a problem for small-scale farmers as the demand was getting too high for them to handle. Following this, one of the participants suggested that it might be possible to realize lean distribution and consumption practices in the best possible way through producer-to-producer and producer-distributor-consumer information-sharing on products – who produces, what is produced and how it is produced. In the “Kodomo-Shokudo” group, the organizers talked about how economic status and working environment of the parents impact the environment for children, and thus there has been an increasing need to provide a place for children to eat together and feel safe and assured within their locality. A Kodomo-Shokudo organizer explained that they had a difficulty in securing ingredients, venue and funding, and are currently exploring possible solutions by linking with local people.
The latter half was for these two groups to exchange questions and discuss what problems they had in common and how they could collaboratively work to solve these problems. During the discussion, it came to light that the organizers of Kodomo-Shokudo were keen on using “good” ingredients as much as possible to cook meals for children despite their tight budget. Then the organic farmers brought an idea to the table that developing a strategic distribution channel might enable them to provide Kodomo-Shokudo with excess vegetables that do not hit the market. The Kodomo-Shokudo team said that shape and volume of vegetables do not matter, and they would welcome this kind of support and cooperation.
The next step for FEAST Project is to develop this new encounter among various stakeholders into concrete actions. As part of efforts, FEAST Project together with Working Committee for CFFA, Kyoto will run a booth “Kodomo-Shokudo x Organic ~ Making ‘Good’ Meals Together” at the next Kyoto Kodawari Marché 29 held at Kyoto Prefectural Office on June 10th. Let’s get together and explore food and agriculture in Kyoto while enjoying organic bento box! We will be at NPO Partnership Center Meeting Room at the Former Main Building of Kyoto Prefectural Office from 10:00 to 15:00. There will be two sessions of seminar including a brief introduction of Kodomo-Shokudo and an organization involved in production and distribution of organic produce, and a talk by Prof. Motoki Akitsu from Kyoto University, WG2 Chair at 11:30 and 13:00 (capacity: 30 people each). Please check our Facebook page for update. We look forward to seeing you there!