Love Peru’s food? Then support its farmers, too
It’s not surprising that Mistura—Latin America’s most famous food festival, and one of the largest in the entire world—takes place in Peru. If you’ve ever been there, or even eaten at a Peruvian restaurant elsewhere, you know that the country’s cuisine is varied and unique (I’ve never tried chicha morada, or purple corn juice, anywhere else), and makes delicious use of fresh, seasonal ingredients.
But even though most of Peru’s food is produced within its borders, a lack of investment in rural areas–combined with other factors, like climate change—has left many Peruvian farmers facing poverty. In rural San Martin, for example, the Kichwa women I met earlier this year grew an amazing array of crops in their communal gardens, yet they said they had few opportunities to sell their produce and earn much-needed income for their families.
Oxfam’s GROW campaign (CRECE in Spanish) is working to increase the opportunities for small-scale farmers, especially women, in Peru and beyond. Here’s what Giovanna Vásquez, campaign coordinator in Perú, said about this short video, below, filmed by CRECE at Mistura last month:
“Close to half a million people attended the fifth edition of the Mistura food festival this September in Lima, Peru. For 10 days, Mistura featured the best dishes from renowned Peruvian cuisine, as well as thousands of products offered directly to consumers from more than 300 Peruvian producers.
Rosario Cantu, from the Chamomile Flower Committee of Carhuaz (featured in the video), was one of those who left their farms to attend Mistura. The experience was very positive. Rosario could deliver the products she grows on her land directly to consumers: legumes, vegetables, corn, and chamomile.
Her dream, like that of many Peruvian food producers, is that there will be more markets for her products, as well as public policies that strengthen the thousands of Peruvian farmers who form the basis of the renowned Peruvian cuisine. ‘It’s nice to see and feel that consumers recognize and are interested in our products and in the people who are cultivating them, but we need policies and investment,’ Rosario said.”