Slow Food

Obrigado, Slow Food!

- 29 Jan 05

(From our special correspondents in Porto Alegre). The World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, now into its fourth day, is living up to expectations.

The Forum’s role has appeared clear right from the inaugural march that paraded through Rio Grande do Sul capital’s tree-lined avenues on January 26: to acknowledge and listen to political, social and environmentalist and cultural demands at any latitude.

The Forum program is a packed one: every day, starting at 8.30 in the morning, over 150 meetings are held in four shifts in as many conference halls, thereby offering a breathtaking panorama of movements, initiatives and issues: from agrarian reform to biodance, from the right to communication to the Saharawi question , from the sexual exploitation of Brazilian minors to food and agricultural biodiversity.

The latter topic featured in the meeting, ‘Slow Food: the defense of biodiversity and the identity of rural territories in Brazil’, promoted yesterday by the Slow Food Brasilia Convivium in collaboration with the Brazilian Ministry of Agricultural Development (MDA).

The meeting began with a presentation by Cinzia Scaffidi of the Slow Food movement, its history and principal activities worldwide. The Convivium leaders of Rio de Janeiro (Margarida Nogueira), Tiradentes (Homero Vianna), Brasilia (Gabrio Marinozzi) and Florianopolis (Oscar Lippi), then outlined their work in Brazil.

Humberto Oliveira, under-secretary at the MDA, then presented the project for the mapping of typical Brazilian food products that the Lula government is developing in conjunction with Slow Food as part of their ‘Zero Hunger cooperation protocol’. The ultimate aim of the mapping work will be to create a Brazlian Ark of Taste catalogue and has already triggered the setting up of three new Slow Food Presidia to join that of Guarana.

After a tasting of one of these products —Umbù —the meeting moved on to speak about Terra Madre. The 2004 event was presented with a video and a speech by Ugo Vallauri on the importance of creating a network of communication among Food Communities. Some of the representatives of Communities in Argentina, Brazil and Peru were present at the meeting and they recounted the experience of their stay in Turin and subsequent developments.

The audience followed the over six hours of activities organized by Slow Food with great interest and afterwards gave rise to a lively debate.

The enthusiasm and energy that fill the air in Porto Alegre confirm that get-togethers such as the World Social Forum are a necessary means for the complementary ‘souls’ of international civil society to compare notes and exchange ideas.