The Conscious Food Festival: Changing the World One Dish at a Time

© Vero Leyton

The fifth edition of the Conscious Food Festival was held on October 6.

The event seeks to provide information about major problems in our current food system, offer alternatives for more sustainable consumption, and present the projects and small businesses that work successfully in this way.

With the participation of more than 100 businesses, it was demonstrated that access to sustainable food in the city is possible for all budgets.

The more than 5000 visitors from the city of La Paz and El Alto who attended the Festival were surprised by the impressive diversity, tasted more than 4000 dishes, and only produced four bags of solid waste.

At the venue there were people representing the complete cycle of our food:

  • Producers of vegetables, Andean grains, fruit from the Amazon, honey, coffee and others, who brought their products from peri-urban gardens in the city of El Alto, and different rural areas of Bolivia representing the first stage of the cycle: production. Healthy food was sold, which is produced respecting the environment, without using agrochemicals, and taking care of our diversity.
  • Experts in food transformation and value-adding through natural processes that promote good health and our local diversity.
  • Cooks presenting various traditional dishes in their most sustainable version, or a variety of flavors from around the world while using local ingredients, as well as forgotten or under-valued grains and vegetables. A seemingly infinite choice of dishes, the prices of which varied between 1 and 3 Euros.
  • As the last part of the cycle, organizations involved in the “continuity of the cycle”. These organizations show that food is an important element within the complex system necessary for a way of life with more respect for the environment. There were games for children, recycling companies, alternatives to plastic, hydroponics and urban gardens, natural medicine and cosmetics, and above all a lot of information.
© Vero Leyton

One of the main challenges of a festival of this magnitude is coherence. How can we have a festival focused on sustainable food that takes care of the environment in its entirety? For this, two main aspects were addressed. First, the use of disposable plastics was avoided, instead an installation called “EcoDisco” was proposed. In this installation, people could rent their plates, glass and cutlery for a minor fee and after eating, they were invited to wash them while dancing to funky music (inspired by DiscoSoup). No enterprise carried disposable tableware, tupperware was sold but a communication campaign informed people that they could bring their own containers both for eating there and for takeout.

In the same vein, pamphlets and papers were not distributed. Instead, a digital “EcoGuide” was made, free of charge, with the information of all the participants. Water was used very sparingly. Fewer than 500 liters were used to wash the dishes, while still complying with all hygiene rules, and demonstrating new methods of eco-cleaning.

© Vero Leyton

To feed the cultural side of proceedings there was plenty of ‘artivism’. The day was full of theater, music, conscious rap, national dances, body painting, and more, all feeding the soul with messages of care for our planet and our health.

The Festival was co-created and co-organized voluntarily by the Conscious Food Movement, members of Slow Food, with the leadership of La Casa de los Ningunxs, the support of Slow Food Bolivia – convivium and the help of many others, who over months of work generated agreements, sought consistency in the production of the festival and built joint solutions for an improvement of our food systems.

There is still a lot to be done, but the participation and desire of people to build more sustainable realities from food fills us with energy and certainty that we can change the world one dish at a time.

© Vero Leyton
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