In front of her team of apprentice clerks in aprons, Elsa reaches into a crate full of vegetables and pulls out a white, earthy tuber, which she brandishes defiantly. “I know, it’s a parsnip!” says Stéphane, in the front row. “Lost: It’s a White Carrot!” she replies with a benevolent laugh. With its salad bowls and peelers carefully arranged on the tables, the ground floor of the Maison relais santé in Valence (Drôme) would almost pass for a restaurant kitchen, this Tuesday morning. The organizers of the Mobile and Solidarity Conservatory (CMS) have set up there to teach about ten inhabitants natural and inexpensive conservation methods, with vegetables from local agriculture. “Let’s go for three hours of cooking, but also of exchanges and laughter!” hopes Sylvie, 60, who is about to discover the benefits of “lactofermentation”, using salt, and “self-pasteurization”, thanks to vinegar. For Elsa, the objective is clear: “Everyone must leave with tools to practice daily waste reduction and the desire to eat well.”
Eating well for all
The initiative was born in 2016 from a need expressed by the inhabitants of Romanssur-Isère to three neighborhood centers in the city. At the time, a group of volunteers and professionals had imagined a laboratory food truck where canned food could be made from unsold produce and create introductory workshops for the general public. While 10 million tonnes of food products are thrown away each year, the approach has met with great success, “but the fragile economic model ended up discouraging the cooks”, says the host. It is therefore armed with solid skills and great determination that three passionate young people took over the reins of the project in January: Célia, 31, food engineer; Elsa, 25, a graduate of Sciences-Po, enriched by her two years of work on the Valence Romans Agglo food project; and Alexia, 28, who brings her background in nutrition.
Supported by public and soon to be private subsidies, these three part-time employees devote one or two days of the week to processing products for local farmers – jars, spreads, jams, etc. They dedicate the rest of their activity to the fifty events programmed throughout the year by the CMS. “The main thing is to respect the “s” of solidarity: our action reaches an intergenerational public and from all walks of life, but in priority those in difficulty”, recalls Célia.
Sylvie heard about the event at the Center medico-psychologique de Valence. “We believe it is difficult to pay attention to what we eat for lack of means or fear. But this stems from the fact that we do not know where to start!” she confides while cutting cabbages and carrots. At the table opposite, Stéphane talks about the benefits of garlic with Serge, a sixty-year-old living in a home and volunteering with the D-Base Committee, which works for the empowerment of people. precarious. “Beyond the joy of learning, there is a great satisfaction in the meeting and in the exchange”, he rejoices.
stay well preserved
Today, a few health professionals joined the participants. “We called on the Conserverie as part of Mars Bleu*, because raising awareness of additives that are dangerous to health and encouraging “eating well” are essential in a preventive approach, explains Florence, nurse at the Maison Relais health. I myself participate in the workshop to spread around me!” Just like Dimitri, a liberal nurse in the Valencia region, who opens his ears wide when Elsa mentions the use of a “nitrite-free” salt: “Here is the kind of info that must be passed on to patients!”
It is a little after noon when everyone leaves, smiling, with their pasteurized jar labeled with the name of the day’s team, called “Léguminoénergie”. “Another new seed planted for taste, the planet and health!” launch the two facilitators. In the coming months, they would like to expand their workshops to isolated elderly people who might enjoy reconnecting with forgotten techniques…
* Promotion month for colorectal cancer screening.
Recipes for success
The good status. Initially an associative structure, the mobile and solidarity-based Conserverie was transformed into a cooperative society of collective interest (Scic). Among the advantages of this status: equality between the partners or the possibility of opening up the capital to communities.
The transmission. The CMS team insists: an animation is not a theoretical course but a passing of the torch, making it possible to give ideas and above all tools to effectively disseminate this model of food and consumption.
The support. Since 2020, the action of the CMS has been subsidized within the framework of a Territories of Innovation project financed by the State and piloted by the urban community of Valence-Romans. Its goal: to encourage the emergence of local start-ups.