Slow Food, founded in 1986, is an international organization whose aim is to protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenization of modern fast food and life. Though a variety of initiatives it promotes gastronomic culture, develops taste education, conserves agricultural biodiversity and protects traditional foods at risk of extinction. It now boasts over 100,000 members in 153 countries.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This year the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre are not only
parallel and interconnected. After growing closer over the
years and ultimately overlapping, they are now elements of
one major event. In 2006 the link was tightened, when they
were held at the same time at adjacent venues, the Lingotto
Fiere exhibition center and the Oval arena. This year the
third Terra Madre will be an integral part of the seventh
Salone del Gusto, philosophically and practically.
The two events are guided by the
same idea and the same conception
of ‘good, clean and fair’ food
and agrifood production, as
summed up by Carlo Petrini in his
book Slow Food Nation (Rizzoli
2007). Twenty years ago, Slow Food
started life as an ‘eno-gastronomic’
association and subsequently developed
into an ‘eco-gastronomic’ association,
concerned with the environment,
sustainable development and social justice
in agrifood production. It believes
that food should be:
good, in the sense that, whatever it is, it
should be tasty and wholesome, capable of
satisfying all five senses; clean, in the sense
that it should be healthy, produced without putting
a strain on the earth’s resources, ecosystems
and environments;
fair in the sense that it should respect social justice, meaning
decent wages and working conditions for everyone
involved in the supply chain, from production to distribution
to consumption.
In the course of its journey, Slow Food has understood that:
taste education is the best defense against poor quality,
adulteration and standardization; local cuisines, traditional
products and endangered vegetable species and animal
breeds need to be protected; a new model of agriculture,
less intensive and cleaner, founded on the experience and
traditional know-how of local communities has to be developed.
This is the only one capable of offering development
prospects even to the poorest regions of the planet.
The Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre bring all these ideas
Slow Food’s journey to the roots of food began with the
first experimental Salone del Gusto in 1996, which launched
the Ark of Taste project to catalogue agrifood biodiversity
in danger of extinction. In 1998, the Salone presented the
Producers’ Market for the first time (grasping, years in
advance, the now widely acknowledged need to shorten
the food supply chain), in 2000 it showcased the Italian
Presidia, projects to defend traditional food products, and
in 2002 it welcomed the International Presidia, proof of
Slow Food’s international expansion, while simultaneously
the city of Torino hosted the second Slow Food Award for
Biodiversity (which gave rise to the idea for Terra Madre).
The climax of all this work came in 2004 when the Salone
and Terra Madre were organized together as a sign of Slow
Food’s increasingly ethical and sustainable conception of
gastronomy and agriculture. Hence in 2006 the network of
small-scale producers was joined by 1,000 cooks, the repositories
of culinary science and technique, and 400 university
academics and delegates.
The 2008 event will be packed with novelties: the presentation
of the Earth Markets, where small-scale producers of
local food products display and sell their wares; the official
launch of the second phase of the Presidia project, whereby
producers will be assigned ‘good, clean and fair’ label;
above all, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre will have low
environmental impact.
The project is part of the Torino World Design Capital 2008
program. Its aim is to progressively reduce the impact on
the environment of events through sustainable consumption
and management whereby outputs (waste) are converted
into inputs for other processes, hence acquiring fresh
economic value. A concrete attempt will be made to reduce
the environmental impact of every single activity at the two
events—use of recyclable prop materials, differentiated
waste disposal and recycling—and C02 emissions will not
simply be compensated for but actually cut.
The Salone del Gusto/Terra Madre is the first event of its
type to adopt this systemic approach. Next time round, in
2010, a set of ‘good, clean and fair’ guidelines will be drawn
up to which all exhibitors must adhere.

From Slow Food Press Office

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