Monday, November 1, 2010

Terra Madre: Notes from the Field


From Gianna Banducci in Turin:

For the Africans, the future of Africa belongs to them. For the Americans, the greatest opportunity to make change is positioned before us. The theme underlying both these and numerous other forums at Slow Food’s Terra Madre: it is our responsibility. The change that we so ardently chase can be a reality through each individual. Once the conversations and debates cease, we cannot only rely on international organizations or governments. We must commit to the one action that will never evade us: the control of our own endeavors. Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto convened with this vein flowing throughout the crowds.
Friends and family, producers and consumers, visionaries and organizers reunited in Turin, Italy for the 2010 installment of Slow Food’s acclaimed events from October 21st through the 25th. It was a five-day convergence of colors, scents, textures, and languages surrounding the global food system. A blur of flags representative of the countries in attendance and Carlo Petrini’s booming voice initiated the conference on Thursday. After, it was in the hands of the delegates to guide the spirit of the discussions.
Visitors congregated around topics ranging from small-scale production to women’s rights to youth mobilization for the future. Firsthand testimonials were both a reminder and encouragement for the problems faced, the work accomplished, and the tasks yet to be completed. Two groups noticeably rallying their efforts around prospective initiatives were the delegates from Africa and members of the Youth Food Movement. In the Africa Regional Meeting, the assembly identified that the continent must exploit the advantages of its local economy, food sovereignty, and diversity to retake control of its food. At another place and time, international youth members joined together at the tables of an Eat-in to acquaint themselves with the flanks of activists that will be leading future food campaigns.
Although the appetites of many were satiated by dialogue during the five days in Italy, there was no lack of food on-site. Salone del Gusto embraced the connection of food and place in the taste workshops, marketplace, and the street food fair. It was a cultural affair that allowed for the purchase of barley from Iceland, a sampling of bass from Slovenia, or an education on the vanilla bean from Mexico. Over 200,000 visitors attended the Salone, interacting with producers offering their knowledge and fare at booths. Having immersed themselves further in the food system that provides for them, guests departed as co-producers linked to those dedicated to our subsistence.
As Terra Madre drew to a close, attendees dispersed with a heightened awareness and renewed commitment. With fields awaiting cultivation and issues demanding advocacy, people recognized the work that must be retaken in order to enact preceding discussions from the conference. Africa returned to its campaign for 1,000 school gardens by 2011, the Youth Food Movement to its launch of country-specific groups, and America to its fight against damaging food policy and legislation. The arduous journey to an enhanced food system remains, but the family of Terra Madre was ready to recommence individual actions, remembering that they have the support of comrades worldwide to fuel their progress.

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