“I very quickly had this certainty that one “votes with his fork””

Journalist Lucile Leclair in Paris, March 10, 2022.

“I am a girl from the North, the fourth of a tribe of six children in Calais. A childhood full of shared moments, memories of warm meals, grown-ups taking care of the little ones… My parents worked a lot, we didn’t go to the market, but there was still a culture of cooking in our home, in particular thanks to two grandmothers, excellent cooks, including a Breton woman who passed on to us the passion for butter, pancakes, pound cake and rhubarb crumbles.

Very early, I had the wanderlust, the desire for nomadism. Journalism was a good alibi for leaving with a backpack… I studied political science in Paris, I was passionate about agriculture. I have no background, no farmers in my family. I just had this certainty very quickly that you “vote with your fork”, that the act of eating is no different from that of putting a ballot in a ballot box. I decided to go and understand and learn by meeting the peasants, by working with them. Writing about them, telling their stories came next. I learned everything on the job.

Relegated to the rank of performers

For my first book, I met people who had changed jobs, from nurse to beekeeper, from civil servant to market gardener, from communication officer to sheep breeder. These people recount both the time and the life they leave, formulating a certain criticism of modern society, but also speak of the world in which they arrive. Although access to land is often difficult, one of the conclusions of this book is that there is no need for an “agricultural gene” to become a farmer.

“The earth is a living organism, and when it is managed remotely by a company, there is no longer a link between man and the earth, no more responsibility or care. » Lucile Leclair

My most recent book is about land grabbing in France. Before starting my investigation, I thought it was a phenomenon that only happened in Brazil or Madagascar. But I discovered that, since 2010, thousands of hectares of agricultural land have been bought in France, monopolized by industrial groups. Nobody sees it – there are no signs above the fields, no markings in the landscape – but it is more and more frequent.

But the earth is a living organism, and when it is managed remotely by a company, there is no longer a link between man and the earth, no more responsibility or care. Farmers who used to be owners are relegated to the rank of performers. This is often an easy solution, but it is not necessarily inevitable.

Read also Julien Cantenot: “It seems essential to me to educate people, young and old, in artisanal baking”

Last year, for this book, I went to ten regions, and, in the North, I followed the Auchan farm affair. The retailer wanted to take over land to grow vegetables for its stores, and an entire village fought the plan for a year until it was suspended. It was on this occasion that I met Jean-François, a grain farmer who was campaigning against the Auchan farm.

Read also The chocolate fondant, known as the “unmouldable”: Lucile Leclair’s recipe

I was at his house with other peasants, and he made his chocolate fondant – a very simple and delicious dessert. He said : “It’s Jean-François’ indémoulable.” As indémoulable as him in his country, finally. »

Last book published: Hold-up on earth, by Lucile Leclair, Seuil-Reporterre.

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