Let’s make cabbage great again!

In today’s episode, we discuss how climate change affects food systems. Because, although we often talk of transit and other industries polluting, we don’t seem to consider industrial farming as great a culprit as it really is. And it affects all of us.

As the European Parliamentary elections are nearing their end, so is this show’s season. But have no fear; we’ll be back in no time.

In today’s episode, we discuss how climate change affects food systems. Because, although we often talk of transit and other industries polluting, we don’t seem to consider industrial farming as great a culprit as it really is. And it affects all of us.

One study from 2022 found that less than half of European consumers trust where their food comes from – and only 37% believe that their food is truly sustainable. Many are interested in organic produce and sustainable resources, but industrial farming doesn’t prioritize these values—neither at the corporate level nor at the policy level.

The EU has started to flirt with the idea of “degrowth” instead of “green growth”; experts advocate for replacing the current economic metrics, such as GDP, which are focused on abstract financial gain. Instead, we could use figures and factors that center society and allow for a more complex understanding of trade, industry and finances.

Modern social and economic theories were largely built on the idea of a teleological path of progress, that is, the very false idea that humanity is moving in a particular direction along a linear line and that perpetual growth and expansion are the keys to great societies.

Now, it doesn’t take a PhD to see why this is a problematic idea: to start with, our resources aren’t endless; importantly, human history isn’t linear. Additionally, this concept views certain societies as more optimal and expects others to try to “catch up” with the leaders, which ultimately traps them in a development limbo forever.

Ultimately, we have reached a level of overproduction and overconsumption where we have more commodities than would be needed for the globe, but billions of people are living in extreme poverty, because we don’t distribute wealth or resources fairly.

Instead of this global insanity, degrowth promotes decreasing our global consumption and living off of fewer resources. Yes, that could mean paying a fairer price for your finely brewed coffee, which is currently produced by abused and exploited workers in Guatemala. It would also focus on shorter trade distances, local produce and positive interdependence between sectors.

The current global trade systems create a lot of dependence, but these are rarely positive ones. Industrial farming is entirely reliant on fossil fuels, both for operating the heavy machinery that replaced agricultural workers and for heavily polluting agrochemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Speaking of industrial farming, Russia’s war on Ukraine has had severe consequences for the Arab world, as half of Ukraine’s wheat production is exported there, leading to a sharp increase in the price of bread. Historically, such events have served as a catalyst for political upheaval in the region. In 2021, the inflation of food products reached the same level that led to the Arab Spring.

Some believe that this conundrum could allow grain producers from European countries, like Germany, to wield soft power in the region by exporting more advanced agricultural practices there.

Food sovereignty has always been about controlling resources, and as long as they’re not in the hands of the people who produce them, the fight for farmers’ rights prevails. From the renewed protests in India to the ones against the EU’s Green New Deal here in Europe, they expose neoliberal agricultural models that center economic competition over environmental protection.

To angry farmers in Europe, it seems that the far-right are the only ones willing to listen, as they have been marching on the streets for months across Belgium, Germany, and Poland against the Green Deal’s reformist policies that claim sustainability. Instead of protecting local farmers, the EU responded to the needs of agribusinesses, causing upheaval and general distrust.

On both ends of the left-right spectrum, a coaptation of farmers’ struggles is evident. Less than four months before the EP elections, the far-right has managed to strategically infiltrate the movement through Europhobia and anti-immigration rhetoric, but this is far from new. Right-wing politicians have long had ties with agribusinesses, and this false claim to “protecting” family farms comes with personal gain. Who would’ve thought that climate protection would serve as a great excuse to continue harming the environment?

Today’s guests:

Tendai Ganduri is a Zimbabwean scholar from the University of Witwaterstand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been awarded the Digital Humanism Fellowship from the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, where she is currently researching on how climate change is communicated on X, using Zimbabwe and South Africa as case studies. Ganduri explores the pluralities within human communities, and compares how citizens critique and/or support their governments in relation to national and international events and platforms. 

Maciej Jakubowiak is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Dwutygodnik magazine, one of Eurozine’s partner publications from Poland. He is an award-winning writer and essayist, and has been granted the Adam Włodek Prize, amongst others. His publications include Hanka: A Career Story (Hanka.Opowieść o awansie, 2024), The Last Humans: Imagining the End of the World ( Ostatni ludzie. Wymyślanie końca świata , 2021), and Inevitable Plagiarism ( Nieuchronny plagiat , 2017). His Dwutygodnik essay Folk Stories: The Paunch, explores the cultural and national history behind his family’s relationship to food. Has been translated from Polish into English, and was published on Eurozine this week

Salma Shaka is a multi-media artist and researcher raised between Palestine, Cyprus, and the UAE. Her work tackles topics of land reclamation, indigenous imagination, and anti-colonial struggles in relation to feeding and foraging rituals from the Arab and Mediterranean regions. Food is central to her practice, as it transcends borders, fosters solidarities, and aids in digesting heavy topics on cultural preservation, famine, and systemic erasure.

We meet them at the ERSTE Stiftung in Vienna.

You can also enjoy our episodes in a podcast format on the Cultural Broadcasting Archive, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Réka Kinga Papp, editor-in-chief
Merve Akyel, art director
Szilvia Pintér, producer
Zsófia Gabriella Papp, digital producer
Salma Shaka, writer-editor
Priyanka Hutschenreiter, project assistant


Hermann Riessner, managing director
Judit Csikós, project manager
Csilla Nagyné Kardos, office administration


Senad Hergić, producer
Leah Hochedlinger, video recording
Marlena Stolze, video recording
Clemens Schmiedbauer, video recording
Richard Brusek, sound recording


Milan Golovics, dialogue editor
Nóra Ruszkai, video editor
István Nagy, post production


Victor Maria Lima, animation
Cornelia Frischauf, theme music

Captions and subtitles

Julia Sobota  closed captions, Polish and French subtitles; language versions management
Farah Ayyash  Arabic subtitles

Hosted by

ERSTE Stiftung, Vienna



Less than half of European consumers trust the food system, reveals pan-European study

Once unthinkable, the prospect of society driven by wellbeing gains traction

Degrowth – what’s behind the economic theory and why does it matter right now?

A new Arab Spring, thanks to Ukraine war?

Farmers’ protest: March to restart amid tight security at Delhi’s borders

Farmers’ protests in Europe and the deadend of neoliberalism

Meet the — really — angry farmers coming to take down Brussels

European far right opportunistically supports farmers

Mapped: The Deep Ties Between Big Ag and Europe’s Right-Wing Politicians


Published 27 June 2024
Original in English

Contributed by            



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