Maria Lidón Martrat was one of our guests and speakers at the Menu for Change International Forum 2018, coming from Spain. Maria works in a Spanish NGO called Food Global Justice that deals mainly with the topics of food sovereignty. She has experience in international cooperation for more than 15 years, working in various NGOs and coordinating projects as an expatriate in Central America and South America. She also worked on advocacy projects in Spain. Now she is running an educational project with secondary schools to promote critical thinking about the global food system, starting from our concrete local reality.

The topic of her workshop at the Forum was sugar. Sugar is a really concrete thing that we eat every day and we are all familiar with. It is all around us, in most of the food products, especially the processed ones. And also, on this one simple ingredient, we can demonstrate many aspects of the food system. For example problems related to society, environment and health.

A majority of people is conscious about health problems associated with sugar, but they are not that conscious about the social issues behind this staple ingredient, especially the production of cane sugar and working conditions of people in this type of industry. So the aim of her workshop was to show to the teachers all these links and also concrete ways how they can work with this topic with their students.

Because global food system and its problems are one of the areas Lidón focuses on, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask her our question as well: „What should be changed in our current food system to make it more sustainable?“

„At personal level I think the first step is to change our personal consumption habits. It’s our decision what we purchase. And we really need to raise awareness about the power we all have as consumers. Because people are really making political decisions when they choose what they buy.“

And what about the systemic view?

„At the political level, we need to organise ourselves as citizens. In order to incite changes in policies, both on national and international level. One by one, we can change our consumption habits, but it’s more important to organise ourselves. To act as a group, a community, and to form social initiatives to reach the political changes. For example to denounce advertising practices of food companies. Or to push for legal changes in labelling, advertising and agricultural policies oriented to big companies and small farmers.“