Report from Terra Madre Torino
Italy - September 22-26, 2016
This past September, Slow Food East End Leaders Laura Luciano and Pierre Friedrichs, along with Master Farmer Lucy Senesac, attended Slow Food International’s Terra Madre Salon del Gusto in Torino, Italy as part of a delegation representing Slow Food USA.
Terra Madre Salon del Gusto (Mother Earth Salon of Taste in Italian) is an international conference that brings thousands of farmers, food producers, and Slow Foodies from 150 countries to Torino every two years.
This year Slow Food International took the event to the street literally, since most exhibitions took place outdoors throughout city, a first for this event. There were conferences, meals, food tastings, classes, presentations and off-site events which gave ample time for delegates to mingle, share learn, and be inspired.
Here are some highlights from Laura’s recap
Pierre and Laura presented SFEE’s good work: The products they brought representing the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project were a big hit. Meeting with like-minded people from all over the globe who are working for a common cause was invigorating and inspiring. It confirmed that we are part of a much bigger movement.
The work that each chapter puts forth creates a wonderful global story about the same core values: Good, Clean and Fair. At the USA booth there was a map where each chapter placed Slow Food Flags which represents what we grow, farm or produce that’s “Slow.” We are proud to say we had many flags to place.
SFEE has National exposure. We are very lucky to live in an area where philanthropy and the beauty of the land and sea are all around us. We live IN a Slow Food region, other folks are not as fortunate. A strong undercurrent to Terra Madre was the Indigenous fabric of our country, food diversity, biodiversity, seed sovereignty; rallying around farmers who understand this concept as something bigger than themselves for the greater good and feeding those who are less fortunate (example: educating food banks and in turn providing nourishing products that are diverse – not to promote one specific vegetable because it is easy, promote nutrition and food diversity for the masses.
Our wish for our chapter is to focus on these very issues in the coming years – from grants to farmers (who support these values) to educating food banks (dialogue begins with the less fortunate communities). Through these banks, there is the possibility of creating a Slow Food Co-op for farmers. We have big opportunities within these areas.
Ark of Taste and Different Cultures
The USA is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world. Our strength as a nation is to embrace these core values as Americans. To meet with people from all over the world who are making products from their hometowns, showing their wares and sharing stories fills your heart with such pride. Mono-culture, Mono-Agriculture is a dangerous slippery slope. Diversity is freedom in reference to race, beliefs and one’s heritage.
The Ark of Taste points to this concept. It is an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods that are sustainably produced, unique in taste, and part of a distinct eco-region. The goal of the Ark of Taste is to reverse the trend of our narrowing food options by saving “endangered” foods from extinction by promoting them to consumers. After a product is added to the Ark of Taste, Slow Food tries to support the producers behind Ark products by helping them develop local projects called the Presidia that work to improve the infrastructure of artisanal food production.
In the face of Big Ag, there are more than 500 million family farms world wide that struggle day to day to defend biodiversity, promoting native seeds, and act locally to develop clean, healthy economies. This multitude concretely endorses an alternative model and designs possible future scenarios in which food sovereignty will be developed and propagated, in which food will no longer be the slave of a faceless and unchecked market.
This is at the core of what Slow Food means. Supporting what is real, listening to the stories of the very folks who grow and create a product because it is part of their heritage, it is their way of life. It is as real as it gets. There is no mystery.
Slow Food International working to revitalize a region/economy
The Apennine Mountains- in particular. Slow Food is working with an entire region to bring back the very folks whose family heritage and work is vital to that mountain range. SFI is working to bring back this economy which speaks volumes to the power of Slow Food.
Valle d’Aosta Cheese Shop
Valle d’Aosta is very important, both in socio-economic and cultural terms. It is known for its centuries-old tradition of producing Fontina cheese, which is done in small batches. It is radically different than the cheese we know by the same name here, which most likely is not made in this region. Pierre and Laura witnessed a cheese monger making this cheese at his co-op facility. The concept of one central place that makes cheese for the area’s dairy farmers was eye opening. (A concept that would be great here on the East End, not just for cheese, but perhaps for meat production, or vegetable distribution).
University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) in Pollenzo
Founded in 2004 by Slow Food in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna. It is an international research and education center for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.
UNISG students, hailing from around the world, gain dynamic experiences in artisanal and industrial food production, thanks to complementary education in both sciences and humanities, sensory training, and hands-on learning during study trips across five continents.
The by-product of this education is a new professional figure – the gastronome – skilled in the production, distribution, promotion, and communication of high-quality foods. Gastronomes are the next generation of educators and innovators, editors and multimedia broadcasters, marketers of fine products, and managers of tourism and other related businesses.
Pierre and Laura enjoyed dinner at this school. Laura noted it was a magnificent facility for culinary exploration and study.