Live to tell or to tell if you have really lived?
Stories of other people’s lives and foodtech
In these explosive days, while the return from mass vacations seems the only one-dimensional frame to the current propaganda, in Pollica (S.A.), the third edition of the FAO and Future Food learning experience, focused on the theme of the Mediterranean, has come to an end.
And that is on the multidimensional framework of a country much more multifaceted than they would have us believe.
A country that knows how to overturn the paradigms of development. That knows how to recognize the intangible heritage that the whole of humanity acknowledges to it and knows how to revive the Archaeological Parks of Velia and Paestum, reviving them with the voices of our fathers, mingling with those of our children.
Parmenides, for example, who lived in 500 B.C., spoke of “the destructive work” perpetrated by the “pure and terse lamp of the sun.” Surely, in 500 B.C. that destructive work did not have to reckon with an atmosphere into which humanity injects 500,000 times the intensity of the atomic bomb every 24 hours, as is the case in 2022.
Today we know that the destructive work is humanity itself. We have the creative magnificence of technological solutions and the extraordinarily suicidal power of the one animal that destroys its habitat instead of protecting it.
So, at the center of the infinite mystery of nature, fierce and maternal; of the past and the future; of the stones, we have walked on in Velia and Paestum and the stars we have gazed upon from the Paideia Campus, in the Castle of the Princes Capano, in Pollica, is you.
This is what we taught the Climate Shapers.
We have taught it to the 1,000 Climate Shapers we have trained over the last three years and to the 15 of this last class in Pollica: from 14 to 40 years old and representing 9 different countries: Zambia, Greece, Germany, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Kazakhstan, and Italy, including six Italian regions.
Fr. Andrea Ciucci, Secretary General of the Pontifical Academy for Life, kicked off our educational journey.
His words were powerful and captured the meaning of our work:
“And then there is you. You and your life…your story, your words, your choices, your freedom, your gifts and your limitations, your past and your future, your dreams and your disappointments. The life that is yours and yours alone. This life, your life, does not belong to you. You did not mold your body, and in other wombs, you were woven. Others chose your name. You did not decide to come into the world and cannot decide not to die… Life precedes us and passes through us. It welcomes us and goes beyond us. The first word of the Hebrew Bible: Bereshit, in the beginning. It begins for B. Not for A. There is something that precedes our beginning. It escapes us and becomes apparent. It constitutes our second!”
One must learn to look into this infinite mirror if one is to truly become a Climate Shaper and, more generally, an agent of change.
One must stop pontificating about teaching notions. Teaching them by speaking unilaterally, using methods that do not consider who we have become — all of us, pupils and teachers. And I am not just talking about the pandemic.
The one-dimensional frames, the banality of the good, and the oversimplification counteract the miracle of a new way of forming thriving communities.
A way that consists of creating a learning context where active listening prevails. Where we interact to contaminate, where we let the story of the future, the prosperity thinking speak.
After all, humans are the planet. And the key to beginning a natural regenerative change process is in the mirror.
One must, for this, study, know, discover, explore, and shake hands with antithetical categories of humanity, all within the same present.
Thus, step by step, one can understand that “your life does not belong to you.” That we are other. That we can leave behind the ego of specious propaganda and embrace the echo of a Humana Communitas cohesive in diversity.
Thus, our 15 Climate Shapers journeyed from the stones to the stars, passing within themselves.
They finished this intense journey, writing their plans for the Mediterranean, and working on:
Connecting regenerative agriculture and sustainable development;
Cities 2030 and Pollica 2050, to understand how to encourage territorial development through sustainable entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment in Cilento while preserving its precious natural resources;
Mediterranean Diet, to understand how to strengthen the network of the six UNESCO communities to communicate the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle.
Their results were surprising and perfectly immersed in the hyperlocal reality of Pollica and Cilento. Thus, they showed that they understood that they are other and can be the other.
I have been involved in food for more than 10 years and in food tech since before this word existed. I also have a specific experience walking on the stones of the Velia and Paestum parks. Of those who hear from venture capitalists in Asia, startups in the U.S., and scientists worldwide and constantly hear that each of them has the truth in their pockets about the future of food.
On the other hand, I do not know where the future of food will go. I do know, however, where it should go: toward the economy of beauty, deep sustainability, and a regenerative, systemic, circular mindset. Toward territories that express identity, biodiversity, and holistic and equitably distributed well-being.
Someone will have to find the courage to invest in practices with lower margins than those we read about in the business plans of food tech startups. Someone will have to find the courage to invest in models with perhaps more modest scalability and replicability capabilities, which will be recognized as necessary in the long run to achieve true well-being. This is exactly why we created Future Food. The community we are forming is the only possible basis for change. One step at a time, with the slowness that natural food requires in the kitchen, following their pace and not mine or that of the tech market.
Paraphrasing Marquez, I prefer to take an approach that tells only after deeply experiencing and seriously changing the one element in the food, tech, and climate equation that does not work.
An approach that is the intersection between the social, emotional, psychological, cultural, historical, and anthropological spheres and that which is purely technological. Provided that in this kind of tug-of-war between the human and natural dimensions of the future on the one hand and a futuristic technological dimension on the other, we all push to solve the significant challenges ahead.
The path I have chosen starts from the subject of innovation and not from the object, which remains a mere tool.
If you want to walk it with me, you are always welcome.
The Future Food Institute is an international social enterprise and the cornerstone of the Future Food Ecosystem, an inclusive network and knowledge platform sparking positive change in the global food system by leveraging the power of education.
Through innovative, research-backed academic programs, boot camps, global missions, executive education, and school-based events, FF trains the next generation of changemakers, empowers communities, and engages government and industry in actionable innovation, grounded in integral ecological regeneration, catalyzing progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).