Deep Unlearning

All learning about a sustainable food culture, a sustainable food system and about regaining and building our health through food must start with the un-learning of what we have been taught early and most likely believed through most of our lives. Those who have an interest in what is proposed for the Centre have already stepped on that path of unlearning. The commonly shared understanding and acceptance of the industrial food system, the industrial food, and its effect on our lives and our health cannot peacefully coexist in our minds with the new understanding of what sustainable foods can do for us and for the World. The former must first be challenged and consequently pushed out to make the room for the latter. That is what the deep unlearning is all about.

The process of unlearning must, unfortunately, go through recognizing what has been wrong with the industrial food culture, the food system and food itself. Most importantly we must build an understanding of the negative effects that what and how we eat has had on all of us and on the World. This is the part of learning that can be very hard, negative, often confrontational and always depressing. It doesn't uplift people and we believe that the Centre should and will give people the hope we all look for but unlearning is the stage that all seeking hope tied with sustainability must first go through. However, if learning is only restricted to what is wrong with our foods it is very depressing and energy draining and nobody should dwell in that emotional valley for too long.

We at the Centre want only to highlight the basic problems and issues. The problem with many books that describe problems of the existing systems, in this case of our food system, is that when they are very thorough at stating and explaining problems, their conclusions are unsatisfactory. Most of these publications when it comes to describe what can be done they state that "we must, we should, we have to... do things right". We consider these very dangerous words: "we" and "must". Who is "we"? Each one of us may only speak for her/himself. And "we" certainly don't "must" anything and will not. That is the reality of the world and all the statements that start with "we must" are nothing less than just a wishful thinking. The change will happen one person at a time and each person who steps on the sustainability path may affect a number of other people through his life and her actions. The Centre has the potential to stimulate and accelerate that change by affecting a number of people but also by stimulating the creation of new contacts, new networks of people through which the change may spread.

One of the strategic assumptions of the Centre is: Not attempting to undermine the status quo but committing to developing viable alternatives. We want to help others to learn what is wrong with the current systems, with our food and with our approach to health as this is the necessary step through which each one of us must go towards a new worldview and different understanding of food. However, that will be only a small part of learning. We don't want to focus on negatives but rather offer people hope and direction towards a better life and certainly to better food. Understanding what is wrong with our system and our food is not the same as an active attempt to change it, to convince or lobby those who have power over our food. There are other organizations that are engaged in such activism, the Centre will not. Or focus clearly will be on what could be, on creating examples how food sustainability can help individual people, the society and also the world.

The main focus of learning will be on the positive, on what can give people more joy, more health, more food security. But first must come the unlearning and that may not be easy at all. We need to abandon many ideas about the benefits of commercial food (abundance, convenience) and our reliance on dominant authorities to tell us what is right and what is wrong, etc. That will never come until we go deep down and try to understand the roots of all problems that we experience now. That's why we call this type of learning offered through the Centre the Deep Unlearning. If we go through this process, it will change our deep beliefs and our values system. In result, it will make it much easier for us to give up on what we have considered to be the undeniable and indispensable benefits that the industrial food system, but also industrial health care offer us.