Louis De Jaeger is the author of the book ‘We eten ons dood’, literally translated ‘We are eating ourselves to death’. In his book, he takes us on a voyage from New York to the West-Flemish ‘Westhoek’. With his personal journey he sought answers: ‘Do we know what we eat?’ and ‘Can the future agricultural sector really be sustainable?” Louis, as the founder of the garden and landscape architectural bureau Commensalist, designs so called ‘food forests’, gardens and sustainable agricultural projects. He writes opinion editorials on sustainability and founded, together with a couple of Flemings the ByeByeGrass-movement.
Louis’ passion for food began when he was growing his own vegetables as a kid on his grandmother’s farmstead. His biggest dream? To create a grand ‘food forest’. During his journeys, when he took some gap years with girlfriend, he discovered the agricultural system of permaculture. According to him, permaculture integrates the advantages of the ecosystem in the agricultural soil. Fascinated, he set out on a mission to implement it here in Flanders. His main goals: 1) He wanted to make as much soil sustainable as possible, 2) to inspire people to do the same and 3) to come up with a fun way to achieve these goals.
Because, during his travels in America he saw people literally eating themselves to death. The morbid obesity is alarming due to the abundance of processed food. Louis thinks the conventional agricultural system is depleting our soil. According to him, we have to take care of biodiversity and we also have to be cautious of the effects of certain products on human bodies. With his book, he wants to give a wake up call to readers. We need to support farmers to implement more sustainable ways of farming. If you invest in durable soil, you will get more and better yield. It is economically and ecologically a sound strategy. Louis is also a staunch supporter of bio products. Also, according to him there is a place for the traditional meat industry if certain conditions are met. The cost for food is abominably low these days. Farmer’s need to be compensated correctly for their product and hard labour, otherwise we will not respect and recognise the value of precious food. Citizens actually have a strong voice and the potential to change things. According to Louis, a paradigm change needs to happen: we need to see and treat food and farmers in a different way. Little actions pave the way.
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