Slow Food

We Work to Save the World’s Best Foods: The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity Looks to the Future

Italy - 27 Oct 06

The first conference in the series ‘Terra Madre meets Salone del Gusto’ was held today, the second day of both events. We Work to Save the World’s Best Foods was presented by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. The foundation’s president Piero Sardo briefly explained the motives behind the creation of the foundation, explaining how Slow Food’s focus on the developing countries has meant some changes in how it operates. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity was created three years ago with the aim of supporting bold new projects which lacked sponsors and local assistance. In a short period of time the foundation has managed to help many producers who were struggling to find a share of the local market, and the results of the foundation’s work can be seen in the Salone’s Pavilion 3, a showcase for presidia from all over the world. The Tuscany Regional Authority has been a great supporter of the foundation’s work, and was represented today by Maria Grazia Mammuccini, director of ARSIA, the regional agency for development and innovation in the agro-forestry sector. She praised the foundation’s work and listed four strategic aims: rescue of local varieties at risk of extinction, creation of a new alliance between the scientific and agricultural worlds, a close relationship and communication between producers and consumers, and support of local markets. The next speech, by Aminata Dramane Traorè from Mali, was very well received. She is a writer and the founder of the African Social Forum, but is here as a member of the foundation’s Scientific Commission. She criticized the disinformation which the media of powerful nations spreads regarding Africa. To the eyes of the developed world Africa seems a chaotic, poor and violent continent, but the true causes of its problems are rarely mentioned: the macroeconomic policies of the West. On top of this, she said, many African governments are guilty of complicity, putting their economic interests above the well-being of the people. Marcello Buiatti, professor at the University of Florence, and also a member of the Scientific Commission, described his fight against the cultivation of GMOs, which now cover 90 million hectares around the world. The next to speak was Harold McGee, a food scientist and writer who is also on the Scientific Commission of the foundation. He expressed his fear of a homogenized future, and underlined the necessity of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. Serena Milano, in charge of international Slow Food presidia, then introduced two producers, Jimei Jianzan and Manrique Lopez Castillo. Jianzan is the coordinator for the Tibetan Plateau Yak Cheese Presidium, a cheese which is produced at 4,500 meters above sea level by nomadic yak herders, and Lopez Castillo is in charge of the production of Huehuetango highland coffee in Guatemala. Next to speak was the Culatello di Zibello Presidium Coordinator, Massimo Spigaroli, who has decided to thank Slow Food for its support by donating 7,000 euros every year to the foundation. Piero Sardo announced that the money donated by Spigaroli would be used to support the new presidium of preserves produced by Romanian women in the Saxon villages of Transylvania. An unexpected conclusion was provided by Vandana Shiva, another member of the Scientific Commission and also director for the Centre for Science, Technology and Politics in Dehradun in India. She outlined the three reasons that local policy must act to save biodiversity: to protect the earth from the disappearance of typical cultivation, to prevent the extinction of many biological varieties caused by the homogenization of productions and to help local producers to compete on the market.