What Learning Is Needed?

We have asked the questions "How can a new sustainable food culture be helped in its growing stages? What will be the areas in which people may need the most stimulation, support, knowledge and new skills that can be potentially supported by the proposed Centre?" As a result we came up with the following map:

Building A New Food Culture

While this is a 'sketchy' map, it became clearer to us how the development of a new food culture can and does occur and what roles the proposed Centre can potentially play. The green boxes indicate the areas in which we think we can be involved.

Culture doesn't change until our deep beliefs do. Hence the first, and probably the most difficult step is the process of 'Deep Unlearning' of what has been put in our minds and starting to see the fallacies of beliefs on which the current culture is based, including all our beliefs about connections between food and health. That includes better understanding of the fallacies and faults of our industrial food system and the problems with the industrial foods that most of us eat today.

The second most important area in which the Centre can assist learning is in relation to our health, including the connections to and effects that food may have on our wellbeing.

The next group of learning opportunities are all about food: how can we grow, raise, process, preserve, serve it, etc. so that it meets the criteria set for sustainable foods. The most important part of this learning is sustainable food processing and food preparation at home. There is where the Centre can make a great contribution to the overall cause, because such learning, particularly in its wholeness, is hardly offered elsewhere.

Then there are two very important areas that are central to the growth of an alternative sustainable food system and the new sustainable food culture. These are: organizational effectiveness and entrepreneurship. In our opinion, there is high need for learning and new knowledge in these two areas. What people can learn through typical channels offered by the mainstream is not fully applicable to the changed perspective and approaches suitable for the clients and organization members who pursue different goals and represent values and beliefs often very different from the mainstream. Effectiveness of organizations is probably the most underestimated, misunderstood and difficult subject in the whole gallery of new learning. Many people who are involved in progressive organizations working for sustainability may often not even know what they don't know with regards to organizational effectiveness and entrepreneurship. Consequently, most of these organizations struggle and many collapse when the initial energy of those who start such organizations runs out. However, these two areas of learning can be only addressed after the core programs built around food and health are developed and running.

Involvement of the Centre in stimulating the growth of a new food culture (which is depicted at the bottom left part of the map) can only be indirect. This is a spontaneous and somehow chaotic process, represented and stimulated by numerous grassroots initiatives and individual people. All these efforts together, of which the Centre may play its small but essential role, should gradually lead to growth of consumer's awareness and growth or ranks of new consumers who demand sustainable foods. All together these spontaneous activities and actions will contribute to the gradual emergence of a new sustainable food culture. Parallel entrepreneurial initiatives that respond to the new consumer demand will also lead to the gradual shaping of an alternative, sustainable food system.

We realize that nothing that is so complex can be simply planned or mapped like we have done. The purpose of this exercise was to help us understand and to demonstrate to others what role the Centre can play and consequently how we should think about potential programs offered. It also can explain to the reader why and how our effort has been channelled.