Laborantza, which means ‘agriculture’ in Euskara, is a collection of personal stories and images showcasing different aspects of rural life in the Northern Basque Country.
A territory with a complex history and people, the Basque area (North – ‘French’, South – ‘Spanish’) preserves much of its cultural identity, gastronomy and landscape through farming. By uniting under producers unions and utilizing collective labels (e.g. PDOs, Idoki, Eusko), many independent Basque farmers are finding ways to better gain recognition for their (food) heritage and keep agriculture as a viable activity in the region.
Despite the unwavering presence of industrial food production both in the local territory and around the world, small-scale Basque farming offers another great example of how family operations are sustainable, how choosing heritage and organic products is truly the best option (for preserving biodiversity, the soil’s health, etc.), and most importantly, how important food is as a tool for political change.
Eunice Lee is an independent food writer and avid home cook and traveler, who believes that food is a powerful tool for not only political change, but also connecting with people of different cultures and industries. In 2016, she received a Fulbright-Schuman grant to research the impact of European PDOs on rural development in the Northern Basque region. As part of her research, Eunice conducted a case study on the production systems of five local name-protected foods — ‘Piment d’Espelette‘ chili peppers, ‘Ossau-Iraty‘ ewe’s milk cheese, ‘Irouléguy‘ wine, and ‘Kintoa‘ pork and cured ham — and interviewed various producers of these foods. After her fellowship, she worked at both a farm producing Kintoa, piment d’Espelette and other heritage crops and a restaurant that used its produce.
Laborantza was created in July 2017.