Terra Madre — The Last Chapter

It’s been a busy few days and now Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto are over for this year. It is an amazing experience that is difficult to summarize in a blog. I’ve sent a few photos to Stacey to post on the website that I took with my blackberry. Have lots more on my camera that I will use to do a program some time in January or February. The diversity and passion of the attendees at this biannual meeting is what stands out the most I think. All the opportunities for learning and communicating with other people who are passionate about improving our world food system and the environment that sustains it are overwhelming. Somehow you have to just breathe and take one thing at a time, whether it is standing in the espresso line and finding out from a Canadian delegate that hotels in Canada are now keeping bee hives on their roofs, or visiting with a Ohio nurse who has started farmers markets and uses Slow Food volunteers to help the farmers unload their produce.

ApplesThe large meeting area at Lingotto (site of the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics) was crammed with exhibits like the one in the photo of apples representing some of the 500 varieties of apples that were raised in the Piedmont at the end of the 19th century as compared to the 5 varieties that are sold in stores now (the same ones sold in our stores). Also covering much floor surface are some of the food and products of people from the Philipines, Ethiopia, Uzbeckistan, Sierra Leone, etc. How many of us knew that Shea butter (the ingredient in many cosmetic products and lotions) is produced from nuts growing in Africa?

The most inspirational gathering during the conference was the meeting of all the Chapter Leaders where a few of the chapter leaders from around the country gave summaries of some of their projects which are enriching and changing their communities: the proliferation of school gardens, “scratch” cooking classes for school cafeteria staff, programs to assist women become farmers, transitioning industrial farms into organic farms… Alice Waters (with an enormous bunch of celery as her prop), Slow Food USA President Joshua Viertel, and Slow Food Founder and President Carlo Petrini concluded the meeting with remarks exhorting us to work hard (like the snail) to transform our food system. Our project for next year will be to support the creation of 1,000 gardens in Africa to help feed their people.

More details and photos about Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto will be shared at a meeting in January or February. We will email you and post the information on our website when the plans are finalized.
Ciao for now!