An update from Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto and the International Slow Food Congress 2012 in Turin.
This year all three events were held in conjunction with each other.
Twenty five Slow Food members and food communities attended from the island of Ireland.
The Irish Slow Food stand supported by Bord Bia was manned by Emer O’ Donnell and a team of Irish Farmhouse cheesemakers, Slow Food members and volunteers. The response to the Irish Raw Milk Cheese was so enthusiastic that it was sold out completely by noon on Sunday.
Irish Slow Food members had an informal meeting ‘under the stairs’ close to the Irish Slow Food stand with Elisa Demichelis from Slow Food International. She thanked the convivia leaders and members for their efforts on behalf of Slow Food under difficult economic circumstances. We all resolved to try to have an event every month however small, even every two months would be good!
- Carlo Petrini urged every convivia around the world to celebrate Terra Madre Day on or around December 10th.
- Slow Food were committed to creating 1,000 Gardens in Africa but Carlo has now upped the number to 10,000 before the next Terra Madre in 2014.
International Slow Food Grandparents Day 20th April 2013 Carlo Petrini continues to emphasise the importance of intergenerational knowledge and establishing ‘Granaries of Memory’ to record traditional knowledge in danger of being lost.
Slow Food Grandparents Day Celebration on April 20th- 21st 2013 at Sandbrook House in County Carlow. We would love all convivia to get involved and are looking forward to having lots of suggestions from all of you.
- The fight against Food Waste has become a major focus for Slow Food. At present approximately 40% of the food harvest goes to waste. Several countries have brilliant initiatives to heighten awareness of this problem and redistribute ‘food waste’.
In Berlin the Slow Food Youth had a Schnippeldisco (chopping disco) where more than 200 people chopped 1.2 tonnes of discarded vegetables and made massive pots of soup as an ‘act of culinary resistance’ that filled the tummies of 8,000 people next day. Next one January 18th in Berlin – I’m hoping to go!
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JUWFaY0T4Q a brilliant You Tube on the event.
In the Netherlands Slow Food organized a Slow Food Food Film Festival. See www.foodfilmfestival.nl/en. Next date March 22-24th 2013 in Amsterdam. They need volunteers to work with them on the Film Festival.
Suggestion: How about a Food Film Festival in Ireland?
- Slow Food continues to have grave concerns about Land Grabbing, a problem in many countries particularly Africa – there are various petitions one can sign. The link is http://www.slowfood.com/international/136/slow-food-in-action
- Irene Weinfurter started a refugee restaurant called Book a Cook in Vienna manned with refugees. It’s a brilliant success. Check out www.bookacook.au.
Suggestion: Perhaps Slow Food could link with the Irish Immigration Support Centre in Cork.
- The Grassroots of the Revolution: Edible Education
Alice Waters, Stephanie Alexander, Vandana Shiva, Darina Allen, Sam Levin, Ange Barry, Hayu Dyah Patria, Namrata Bali, Noel Nanyunja, Ursula Hudson and Valeria Cometti spoke about edible school education and the value of school gardens. All the contributions were fascinating but Stephanie Alexander, Australian chef and founder of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, said her motivation comes from a strong belief in the power of pleasure, texture and experience of food. Starting from a pilot garden in 2001, to date the program has received around 20 million dollars in government funding and currently there are 270 participating schools. The Foundation has just secured enough money to take the program to 10% of all Australian schools within the next 2½ years.
See kitchengardenfoundation.org.au and www.edibleschoolyard.org.
- Carlo Petrini urged us to become more political
Slow Food is now acknowledged as a very important voice in world political debate. Terra Madre has created a new food culture. There’s a growing awareness around the world about the loss of biodiversity and the importance of looking after the land, water and seas. Almost 1,000 people crammed into the lecture theatre for the ‘Seeds: Where do we Start?’ lecture - people sat on the floor behind the rows of seats, stood up against the walls, desperate to hear Vandana Shiva and others give spirited presentations on the saving and patenting of seeds. Vandana Shiva spoke graphically about the genocide of farmer suicides in India and the scandal of biopiracy. She has written a new Seed Manifesto which she urged everyone to sign. Seed is life, farmers not multinational seed companies should be the owners and custodians of the world’s seeds.
Seed Manifesto www. seedfreedom.in
The Slow Food Youth Movement has really gathered momentum since the last Terra Madre, with particularly active chapters in the Netherlands, Germany, US and UK. They are involved in a myriad of community projects and are determined “to be the change they want to see”. It is worth noting that Barry Bryan of Irish Slow Food Youth Network and Ben Craig are motivated to increasing active participation in schools and colleges around the country.
Bees – beekeepers from over 30 countries brought their honey to Terra Madre. It’s clear there is a serious disease problem and collapse of bee colonies globally. Urgent research is being conducted in many countries including Italy where neonicotinods and related substances used primarily on maize have been temporarily suspended from the market awaiting new studies. The EU is also analysing the phenomenon of bees dying. There is scientific consensus that bees are a bio indicator of the health of the planet. Germany, France and Slovenia adopted the recommendation, all other 23 countries in EU didn’t enforce the ban including Ireland.
In the University of London research has shown that chronic exposure to two commonly used pesticides in farming kills worker bees and damages their ability to forage for food.
Slow Food Beekeepers urged us to collect information on bee disease in all our various countries and encouraged reporting of cases of colony collapse or bees dying.
- 2014 is European Year of the Family Farm, exciting news for Ireland where 80% of our farmers are in this category. Perhaps at last there will be greater appreciation of the importance and potential of this sector.