On the third and fourth week of the On My Plate challenge, we explore CLEAN food. Slow Food and the Slow Food Youth Network continue their journey through the tables of over 3,000 young people around the world.

Starting today and for the next two weeks, we will be going into what clean food means, how it’s produced and how we can fight for a more environmentally friendly food system, right from our plate.  This week we’re sharing the story of three activists from our Slow Food network, who are committed to clean food for themselves, their communities and for the planet. Here is what CLEAN food means to them and why it’s important.

For me, Clean Food means food and farming that promote health and well-being, preserve agricultural resources, protect the environment and biodiversity, and ensure animal welfare. I remember when I first realized the environmental impact of food: it was in 2013, when I attended a meeting organized by the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) with some students at the Kampala International University. The discussions there really opened my eyes to the scale of the problem, and since then I have been working with the SFYN to raise awareness, to sensitize youths about better food choices. I work to mobilize young people, to make them motivated and committed to changes in the field of food production and consumption.

Currently, there are 385 school and community gardens in Uganda involving different kinds of people, from young people to older generations, experts and agronomists to veterinarians, cooks, teachers and more. Decisions relating to how a garden is set up and how to deal with the harvest are taken collectively. The duties and responsibilities are also equally shared within the group on the basis of the ability and availability of each participant. However, most of the school gardens are mostly useful as learning tools: children use them for learning purposes, but it wouldn’t be possible to feed all the people who participate in keeping the garden with the produce the garden provides.

Our next steps are to develop more food education activities with the gardens, to create more gardens and continue to involve more and more people in gardening activities.

An important dish for me is Luwombo: it made with groundnuts mixed with mushrooms served with sweet potato. This dish is special for me because of the time and skills involved in making it, as one needs to tie up the ingredients in a scorched banana leaf and steam it over Matooke, potato or any other foods in banana leaves. It’s is prepared using local ingredients with diverse nutritional values.