A few weeks ago I was so fortunate that a Dutch acquaintance informed me about her upcoming visit to Milan. She did not come to see the Duomo and do some shopping, but actually to discover how the city feeds itself. So as soon as I heard this, I decided take of an afternoon of work and take her on a trip that started at the majors office and ended in the field. Let`s give you a recap.

As followers of my blog should know, in 2015 Milan will host the world exhibition that has the theme ‘Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life’. This mega-event already has many spin-offs that have used the theme as a file rouge for their activities. One of them is the community of Milan itself, one of the bigger promoters and financial supporters of Expo Milano 2015. One of their latest actions is the initiative of the Milan Food Policy, presented in February 2014.

Many cities in the world have food policies, the most known ones are those of Toronto and London. A food policy is a guideline that different departments within a community have to respect when making their policy. It usually is meant to make cities more self-sufficient when it regards the food theme, produce more sustainable food that is accessible to all and make sure that the citizens eat healthier.

For the Food Policy suggested by Milan the main themes are accessibility, nutrition and closeness. Forty cities from all over the world have agreed to sign the pact that is to be presented in October 2015. At this moment, a group of researchers started an investigation to individuate ten topics that will be elaborated at so called ‘tables’, which are formed by a team leader and experts.  Together they will write the pact, which after the signing becomes an implementation phase. From politics to practice thus.

Talking about practise, we talk about the farmers that produce our food and influence the accessibility, the nutrition qualities and the closeness of our food. And in many ways they also do politics. Like the farmer Falappi, his wife and five other started in the eighties of the last century an action to form the Parco Agricolo Sud of Milan, an area dominated by agricultural activities that until 25 years ago was treated to be eaten by the city and the so necessary expansions.

Thanks to the formation of the Parco Agricolo SUD (PAS) – a collaboration between 46 municipalities around Milan, seated by the Region of Lombardia - the area is now recognized as very valuable for the city, not only to produce food, but even more for its landscape and possibilities for leisure activities. No more building activities are allowed, the farms (cascine) need to maintain their characteristic roof tiles and …..

And while for such a long time the farmers of the area mostly fought with the municipality, this same government did recently go another step further and decided to help the precious farmers to find a new market for their products. They negogiate with a big Italian supermarket (Esselunga) and made it possible for the farmers to sell their produce here, with the a local brand saying ‘product from PAS’.

So where the farmers in the Milanese fields can concentrate themselves finally on producing quality products, the government uses their local, national and international influence to help the farmers, their citizens and others in the world to make it possible to enjoy these products. 

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