Organic food distribution gains strength on the outskirts of São Paulo

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Obtaining organic food during the Covid-19 pandemic was difficult for nutritionist Renata Barretos de Moraes, 47, a resident of Parque Esmeralda, in Campo Limpo, south of São Paulo.

“I tried to look for organic food for delivery during this period, but I never found anyone who would serve the neighborhood where I live”, he says.

Despite this scenario, some initiatives created by residents of the suburbs have sought to circumvent the situation and defend the importance of pesticide-free food on the outskirts of the city.

One of them is the Organically Warehouse. Created in 2017, when it delivered these products, the project now has ten employees and an open space in August for storage, assembly of the basket and kitchen for the production of organic food containers.

The initiative has used the nickname “Ceasa da Favela”, in reference to the largest warehouse in Latin America, the current Ceagesp (Companhia de Entrepostos and Armazéns Gerais de São Paulo).

The intention is to be a point of reference not only for the population, but also for local vegetables that seek to supply their stores with the option of organic products, without having to travel extensively to the central region.

The Organically Warehouse is located in Jardim Eledy, in Capão Redondo, south, and the plantations are carried out in São Lourenço da Serra, a city in the metropolitan region of the capital.

“We will only overcome the environmental, economic and social crisis when we recover the enchantment with the water, the forest, the animals and all that environment that passes through the land and provides us with natural food”, says the responsible for the site, Rafael Mesquita, 39 , from the distributor Da Roça – Abaetetuba.

“People from the suburbs have socio-environmental knowledge in their basic education. Most came from cities where family farming was the essence of food”, he says. “But when they arrive in the big city there is a commodity pushed by capitalism in encouraging a consumerism key for what is ready-made and ultra-processed.”

The farmer’s speech is in line with data that reinforce that the population, especially the most impoverished, suffers from the consumption of ultra-processed foods, which are generally more accessible.

The survey “There’s poison in this package”, carried out this year by Idec (Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection), reveals that in addition to vegetables, fruits and vegetables, other popular foods have high rates of pesticides in their production — such as, for example, stuffed wafer.

“Foods without pesticides carry four times more nutrients than those handled with chemical products from agribusiness. As they are planted in healthier soil, a food richer in nutrients arrives at our table”, defends nutritionist Renata.

She found out about the Warehouse when she visited Tia Nice’s restaurant, within the Solano Trindade Agency conglomerate, also in Campo Limpo, which has a menu focused on organic dishes. The partnership with the space is one of the ways Rafael has been seeking to expand the dissemination of products.

He also entered into a partnership with the NGO Casa do Zezinho, in Parque Maria Helena, Capão Redondo, which offers five meals a day to 1,200 children and teenagers.

“With the temporary closing of our doors, we knew that we had left obese and malnourished children, without access to dignified and healthy food”, says the executive director of the institution Cris Oestreicher, 56.

In the project’s activities, nutrition education is also present, according to operations coordinator Michael Godoy, 37.

“We realized that the eyes of our children have changed with the arrival of these organic foods. They point out that the leaves are greener and the fruits are tastier,” he says.

Armazém is not alone in this work in providing greater access and offering a network of diversified products, all organic.

In the north of São Paulo, Wagner Ramalho, 41, is the founder and coordinator of Prato Verde Sustentável, which works in communities in Jardim Filhos da Terra, Jova Rural, Jardim Fontalis and Jaçanã, in the north, with the mission of raising awareness. low-income population for the consumption of nutritious and healthy food.

In partnership with Associação Mutirão dos Pobres, the project serves 800 families who receive a basket of organic food.

“We see large food deserts on the outskirts, and in an attempt to reduce this food segregation, we are here spreading agroecological gardens”, he explains.

“With this instrument called the vegetable garden, we work with an environmental consultancy, teaching local residents about biofertilizers with courses and workshops.”

In São Miguel Paulista, on the east side, the initiative comes from women. In the União de Vila Nova neighborhood, seven of them, with an average age of 60, produce vegetable gardens in the region.

“We are strengthened and happy with the recognition acquired in recent years through the subsistence agriculture we practice. And now more satisfied with making partnerships to offer organic food to public schools”, says Aldinéia Pereira da Silva, 41, coordinator of the GAU (Agriculturists Group Urban) .

Municipal law 16,140, ​​of March 17, 2015, requires the municipal education network to incorporate organic foods from agro-ecological producers in its menu.

In addition, the distribution of organic products was also a way to guarantee food for families that lost income as a result of the pandemic.

In Osasco, Greater São Paulo, the Ecoz collective carries out sales and donations of organic baskets and reverts this to solo mothers and families with a high degree of vulnerability in the city. The group works with Panc (unconventional food plants).

The goal for the coming months is to intensify urban gardens to increase the scope of the project. The peripheral neighborhoods served at the moment are Jardim Conceição and Rochdale, both within Osasco.

“Along with the product, we started to distribute some zines that tell the process of preparation and consumption”, says educator Thaiza Cristina, 34, who is part of this Ecoz collective.

“We teach how to plant cassava, which is a huge food rich in preparation possibilities. So, we are encouraging the freedom of free cultivation of each person who accesses our baskets.”

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