Slow Food

Eighth Salone del Gusto Opened in Turin by Italy’s Agriculture Minister, the European Agriculture Commissioner and Slow Food’s Carlo Petrini

Italy - 21 Oct 10

The 2010 Salone del Gusto, the eighth edition of Slow Food’s biannual celebration of food culture, opened today in Turin. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in the Sala Gialla of the Lingotto exhibition center, held yesterday, Thursday October 21, were Slow Food President Carlo Petrini; Sergio Chiamparino, Mayor of Turin; Roberto Cota, President of the Piedmont Regional Authority; Giancarlo Galan, Italy’s Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies; and Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. The ceremony was introduced by Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy. While admitting that eight editions over 14 years was not such a long history for the Salone del Gusto, he said that over time it had become a global reference point, not only for gastronomy and agriculture but many other issues beyond food. With guests from over 160 countries, he said that this Salone del Gusto was the best ever, its strength coming from the many nodes of the enormous Slow Food network. Carlo Petrini began by saying that this eighth Salone del Gusto and fourth Terra Madre come at a time of serious planetary crisis. “This is not a simple crisis,” he said. “It is complex, entropic. And the sector suffering more than any other is agriculture, in Italy and in the world.” He described the situation for farming as “traumatic,” one which cannot be resolved through slogans but which needs new paradigms and new ideas. “We have to give back value to food. Food is not a commodity,” he said. He went on to emphasize that food must be sold at a fair price, which did not necessarily mean expensive, and that waste must be reduced, lamenting the 4,000 tons of food thrown out every day in Italy. Education and information were key, he said. In this post-industrial society, young people have no idea how food arrives on their plates. “We have to bring food education back to the center,” he said. “Less spectacle, more information. Less unrestrained consumption, more education. Less quantity, more quality.” He said that a new generation must return to working the earth, bemoaning the aging population of Italian farmers, with only 7% under 35 years old. We need a new generation of farmers who can bring together science and modernity with traditional knowledge, he said, creating new forms of distribution and shortening the chain from producer to consumer. “We need an agriculture 2.0. We need to restart everything.” He said that young farmers don’t want more money. They want less bureaucracy, more trust, more access to credit and more available land. “The countryside is filling up with solar panels that make more than eggplants, and there is no space for farmers,” he said. “Young people have a right to land.” In the United States, he said, less than 1% of the population works in the agricultural sector, but the country is seeing a rebirth of a new agriculture. Here at Terra Madre, he said, was a large delegation of young American farmers. “The future is in the hands of farmers,” he concluded, to resounding applause. Turin’s mayor, Sergio Chiamparino, recounted seeing a flyer in his city advertising a job, which stated under the phone number “no vagabonds – no foreigners.” He said that this was not part of the spirit of the city, not part of the community, and that the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre confirmed the city’s real spirit, its vocation to be a place of meeting between people and cultures from all over the world. He proudly confirmed the indissoluble relationship between Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto and Turin. The president of the region of Piedmont, Roberto Cota, also confirmed that “the Salone del Gusto must be in Turin.” The theme of the edition was food and place, he said, and “agriculture and food are an important part of our Piedmontese identity.” He went on to emphasize the importance of regulations guaranteeing product quality to consumers, and returned to Petrini’s themes, saying “We must tell young people that some jobs are worth doing. Why do they think some work is not honorable? We must reaffirm that work in agriculture is absolutely honorable, through education and a new cultural reasoning.” Agriculture Minister Giancarlo Galan said that the strength of Slow Food came from the passion of producers who enrich our lives, describing them as the “icons of quality Italian food.” He then outlined four key issues for which he was seeking realistic solutions: the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), scheduled for 2013, which he said must be simplified to make European agriculture more competitive and socially and environmentally sustainable; labeling and the importance of European support to enforce regulations; milk quotas; and the application of new regulations on fishing in the Mediterranean. The last to speak was European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş. His words received much approval from Petrini, who nodded as Cioloş said that food must be looked to not just for the continuation of physical life but also as a form of continuity with our roots. Speaking about the new CAP, he said that through different productive systems, we can make agriculture a sector that can retain workers and give them not only an economic but also a social role. He stated that there was a need for a variety of markets through which farmers could make a living selling their products, and said that transparency along the agricultural food chain was one way of adding value. Cioloş then moved on to the issue of environmental sustainability, saying that agriculture must regenerate natural resources like soil and water, not destroy them. “People are not pillagers of this planet,” he said. “They must work with nature, not in conflict with it, to produce wealth. We must understand natural cycles, not destroy them,” he said, citing the consumption of seasonal products as one way to achieve this. Tradition was an opportunity, he said, for as long as food was not just food for the body but also for the soul. He concluded by sharing a personal belief, that collective change must come first from the individual. “We must not wait for Petrini or for Galan to change things,” he said. “We must first change our own behavior.”