Teresa Santiago is a Slow Food activist from Bahia, Brazil, and coordinator of the agroecological settlment of Dois Riachões, where families from different regions have settled to form an intentional community, reaffirming the right and their struggle for food sovereignty and self-determination.
Fair food is food that begins with farmer men and women, that has life as its principle, as growing food highlights social, environmental and productive issues. Speaking about my situation, here my food is fair food, as we start from a base of agroecology, and on a nationwide level: family farms are responsible for the production of 70% of all food, according to data from IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). In Brazil the idea of development for the ruling class is based on agribusiness, which means more deforestation, pollution of the groundwater, and the loss of our natural resources; these are unfair actions, for unfair food.
I first realized the social impact of food with the beginning of the project to transfer the São Francisco River, in 2006. I took part in popular mobilization against it, as people of the river we want its revitalization: there are innumerable families living along its shores, hungry for food and thirsty for water, and the government’s investment in transferring the course of the river will only benefit the big landowners. As a result of this, I became a militant of a social movement: the Movimento dos Trabalhadores, Assentados, Acampados e Quilomboas da Bahia (Movement of Workers, Settlers, Campers and Quilombolas of Bahia), or CETA, in the struggle for agrarian reform and social justice.
One of the struggles that’s grown out of that is the settlement of Dois Riachões, where young people from different regions have united to an intentional community that grows out of a response to agricultural issues. For us it’s an enormous joy to experience the victories of Dois Riachões, after a lot of struggle, for the families involved it’s the achievement of freedom through the land, agroecological food production and the sale of these products.
The continuity of our struggle for agroecology in the implementation of public policy that takes rural communities into account, the implementation of laws to support agroecology in the State of Bahia and against the use of agrochemicals and synthetic chemical inputs: these are our goals going forward.
More than a specific plate or recipe, there’s a selection of foods that are special for me because they’ve have been part of my life since infancy: being the daughter of river fishing family one of the foundations were the fish of the São Francisco River, together with cassava and the things we make with it like tapioca crepes, pumpkins and cowpeas.