In a world where food production has become dominated and standardized by big corporations operating globally and profiting as much as possible at great environmental and social cost, the Slow Food movement has been swimming against the tide since the very beginning. It was founded in 1989 to promote good, clean and fair food for all, with a belief that everyone has a fundamental right to the pleasure of good food and consequently a responsibility to protect the heritage of food, the tradition and the culture that make this pleasure possible. Now Slow Food has over 100,000 members in 153 countries, and there are 2,000 food communities in the Terra Madre network that practise small- scale and sustainable production of quality food.
The Slow Food movement does encourage organic farming
, but its focus on indigenous people, local communities, small-scale production, and traditional knowledge seems to be more holistic and sustainable than simply promoting organic agriculture. Campaigns such as Slow Canteens, Food Sovereignty, Land Grabbing, Next Generations, GMOs, and Raw Milk all hit the spots of industrial agriculture and modern society.
has been organizing events like Salone del Gusto
since 1996 and Terra Madre since 2004. As the fourth biannual gathering
of food communities, cooks, academics, young people and musicians from around the world, Terra Madre
2010 was held in Turin on 21-25 October 2010, together with the international Slow Food Fair - the eighth Salone del Gusto.
During the five days of meetings, more than 5,000 Terra Madre people from 161 countries
were ‘united in a desire to promote sustainable local food production in harmony with the environment while respecting knowledge handed down over generations’. The opening ceremony started with testimonies given by five indigenous people speaking in their mother tongues and representing ethnic-diversity from five continents, while Slow Food president Carlo Petrini spoke in his concluding talk of the danger of abandoning traditional knowledge and described the four groups who have this knowledge: indigenous people, farmers, women and the elderly! Carlo Petrini said, “They are at the front line for the challenges we face. They are the least considered by politics and the media, but the last will be first, and these four groups will show us the right path.”
During Terra Madre 2010, workshops and conferences
were organized that dealt with themes like biodiversity and ecosystems; social systems and transformation; food sovereignty; goods, exchange, and shared resources; laws, rights and policies; energy and systematic production; traditional knowledge, gender and immaterial values; sustainable education; pleasure and wellbeing. Topics like “Who’s Stealing Africa’s Land?”, “New Certification Models—Participatory Guarantee Systems”, “Common Goods: Utopia or Necessity?”, “Master of Food: Teaching Good, Clean and Fair”, “European Schools for Healthy Food”, “From Abundance to Hunger”, “Evolving Places, Evolving Identity”, “Sustainable Packaging”, and “Foods Without Place: GMOs and Nutraceuticals” were thought-provoking and educational, and many of them attracted large audiences.
During the closing ceremony, a panel of distinguished speakers
such as Vandana Shiva, Serge Latouche, Raj Patel, and Carlo Petrini presented the sustainability and food policies which were drawn up four months before at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and drafted during the preceding four days of meetings. The final policies will be presented on Terra Madre Day on 10 December and will be sent to governments, food policy makers and organizations around the world. In his closing speech, Carlo Petrini said the seeds sown six years ago were bearing fruit. “Terra Madre is immensely larger than the people gathered in this hall,” he said. “It gets no respect from politicians, no attention from the media or the world of finance, but this humanity is more widespread than ever before. Diffusion is our strength.”
During the same five days, Salone del Gusto had 910 exhibitors
, almost a third more than the 620 in 2008. It attracted a record number of visitors, with total attendance estimated at over 200,000, compared with 180,000 in 2008, and 30% of the visitors came from outside Italy. In the Salone, the Market Place was divided into the Italian Market and the International Market, the Slow Food presidia into both Italian and international, Enoteca, Street Food, and Cocktail Bar, with many bookable events such as taste workshops, theatre of taste, meetings with producers, slow wine and dinners. The event has become a global reference point for gastronomy and agriculture. In addition, there were Slow Food’s educational initiatives, with 5,000 adults participating in the “Slow Food Educa” activities and over 1,000 children taking part in the educational course.
As Carlo Petrini
said during the opening ceremony of Salone del Gusto (picture
), education and information are key, and “We have to bring food education back to the centre”, “Less consumption, more education”, “Less quantity, more quality”. He stated that we need a new generation of farmers who can bring together science and modernity with traditional knowledge, creating new forms of distribution and shortening the chain from producer to consumer. At the closing ceremony, the president of Slow Food Italy confirmed the union between Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, evident from the political and educational continuity between the two events.
At least one weakness of Terra Madre was the lack of Chinese food communities.
According to Carlo Petrini, less than one percent of the American population works in the agricultural sector, but the country is seeing a rebirth of a new agriculture. There was a large delegation of young American farmers at Terra Madre (more than 700 people were in the American delegation), while China’s delegation had only 15 people and Chinese was not one of the official languages during Terra Madre. Yet China has seen rapid growth in recent years based on widespread and ever-increasing consumption, with the biggest population in the world and more than 700 million working in the agricultural sector. To make sustainable agriculture a reality both in China and internationally, it is imperative that more small-scale farmers and ethnic minorities from China be involved in the Terra Madre food network in order to get education and information across from the grassroots. (Picture: two Tibetan yak cheese makers from Qinghai, China)
Terra Madre Day
is celebrated again on 10 December 2010, after its inauguration last year on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Slow Food
International. It will be a day of celebration for everybody who is a part of the Terra Madre
network and Slow Food – Slow Food members, Presidia producers, food commmunities, cooks, academics, young people and musicians; a collective event celebrating good, clean and fair food on a global scale, held little more than a month after the great biannual meeting of the delegates of these communities, which took place for the fourth time in Turin on October 21-25, 2010. (Picture: Stadium hosting opening ceremony of Terra Madre)
This year, Terra Madre Day has a goal: to collect funds for the creation of 1000 Gardens in Africa
: in schools, villages and the metropolitan peripheries. The gardens of Terra Madre will be managed by the communities and cultivated with sustainable methods (composting, natural preparations against infestations and insects, sensible water management). They will grow local varieties and follow the principles of intercropping, making use of the mutually beneficial cohabitation of various fruit trees, vegetables and medicinal herbs. The idea for the ‘1,000 Gardens in Africa’ is nothing new, but rather a synthesis of numerous agricultural and didactic experiences gained in already existing projects (in Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania). The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity will be handling the management of the funds and the projects in Africa.
The Terra Madre Day will also be an occasion to reaffirm and demonstrate the fundamental values
of Slow Food, not least through the contemplation of the document ‘Sustainability and Food Policies’, the first draft of which was formulated in the past months by the University of Gastronomic Sciences in collaboration with the international experts and students of the Advanced School in Sustainability and Food Policies. This paper then underwent further discussions, elaborations and corrections by the food communities at the Terra Madre world meeting in October, and has been presented and commented on at the closing ceremony of the event. Terra Madre Day 2010 will be a further moment of reflection on and discussion of the document, to elaborate a definitive version, which will then be distributed to governments of all levels worldwide.