Food System-Food Crisis? A direct response from ‘Allilegion’ initiative in the heart of Athens

A new farmer-consumer platform in the heart of Athens. Consumer can access Greek foodstuff of high quality sold at farm gate prices without intermediaries or retailers directly supporting the farmers.

 

The supermarket has become the single point of getting our food in the modern urban setting; it is a sort of consumer fetish where we can gaze at all those fancy products on the shelves. However, this has resulted at a high concentration of capital and control in the retailing sector of the food system as well as the processing sector. In many cases the whole supply chain is dictated by the retailer (TNCs – TransNational Corporations).

In those cases the retailers are buying directly from the farmers in massive scales in very low prices. After that they are processing, packaging and branding the products to finally supply these products through their own retailing chains (supermarkets). That has been the trend globally in the developed world. In Greece it has been a significant development the last 20 years, but in much less intensity compared to other EU countries since the traditional open markets still supply around 50% of the foodstuff to the consumers.

Is there anything wrong with supermarkets and this type of supply chains? Well, we can have a lot of foodstuff offered in one shop that goes along with our hectic life in the city where we seek for the most convenient. Nonetheless we need to understand that there is a host of economic, social and ecological problems arising from this kind of operations.

I am not going to analyse here the whole industrial food system, I just want to pinpoint at a couple of key-processes. Firstly, farmers have seen themselves not benefiting much due to the price squeeze (well-documented by research), which  is a result of economies of scale and power inequality when facing the large-scale corporate food processors and retailers. Farmers are affected by the prices of inputs (agro-chemicals, seeds etc.) and the price of farm outputs which are set by the companies while they are unable to change them. Before, farmers had their own seeds and inputs (manure, compost etc.) while in industrial agriculture they are dependent on the inputs they buy from the agro-food industry.

Secondly, consumers are also affected in this process. While there is an influx of cheap foodstuff from all over the world in our shopping basket, we are unable to control and set the prices of food. These prices are set at a global level by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and large TNCs; consequently prices can go any direction without the possibility for us to have a say. For instance that is a major problem in poor countries, where the people cannot afford the food and stay hungry (925 million people). During economic crises, crop failures and other events prices are volatile, thus increasing the risk of food crisis.

There is an urgent need for farmers and consumers to come together and set collaborating platforms to be able to share the benefits of food production. By eliminating the middlemen, the supermarkets etc. farmers can absorb all the profit from the products they sell while the consumer can benefit from lower prices, fresh produce of good quality. That is a fundamental aspect of food sovereignty.

With hope we embrace in Freegan Kolektiva the new initiative that started in Athens. ‘Allilegion’ (‘Αλληλέγγυον’ which means solidarist or joint) is a volunteer exchange market which is located in a nodal spot in Athens. The objective of this fresh initiative is to supply consumers with food without any profit at the retail point while supporting directly the participating farmers. Without wasting time, this is a direct response to the problems mentioned above that has an extraordinary significance in times of economic crisis and social deterioration.

The address is Agias Sofias 50 and Didimotichou just behind the ‘Larissis’ railway station in the Kolonos area of Athens. Consumers and farmers who want to participate can call at 0030-6975646728 (Giannis Galanopoulos, organizer).

At this point we would like to present the aims of the ‘Allilegion’ initiative:

  1. In the dark ages we experience and the darker that are coming, nobody will be hungry.
  2. Greek agricultural products to reach the consumer at farm gate prices.
  3. To respond directly to the heinous speculations of TransNational Corporations and the junk they are feeding us.
  4. The urban consumers to meet the simple farmers at last.
  5. To stop the profiteers’ way who are waiting for Greece to fall under the threat of ‘nutritional nightmare’ (food crisis).

In Greek:

Οι στόχοι του Αλληλέγγυου είναι:

α) στις σκοτεινές εποχές που βιώνουμε και στις σκοτεινότερες που έρχονται, να μην πεινάσει κανείς

β) να φθάσουν τα ελληνικά αγροτικά προϊόντα στον καταναλωτή σε τιμές χωραφιού

γ) να υπάρξει μια δυναμική απάντηση στην άγρια κερδοσκοπία των πολυεθνικών και των σκουπιδιών που μας ταΐζουν,

δ) να γνωρίσουν επιτέλους οι καταναλωτές των αστικών κέντρων τους απλούς αγρότες και τα προϊόντα τους και

ε) να κοπεί ο δρόμος για τους μαυραγορίτες οι οποίοι ακονίζουν τα μαχαίρια τους , για την περίπτωση που η Ελλάδα, εισέλθει στον εκβιασμό του διατροφικού εφιάλτη.

Διεύθυνση: Αγίας Σοφίας 50 και Διδυμοτείχου πίσω από τον Σταθμό Λαρίσης στην περιοχή του Κολωνού. Καλούνται οι εθελοντές, οι αγρότες και οι καταναλωτές, να δηλώσουν συμμετοχή – ο καθένας φυσικά από την δική του πλευρά και τη δική του διάθεση και δυνατότητα – στον υπεύθυνο του Ανταλλακτηρίου κ. Γιάννη Γαλανόπουλο, στο τηλέφωνο 6975646728.

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