Slow Food

Terra Madre Inauguration

Italy - 20 Oct 04

Carlo Petrini- “Let us become co-producers”
The inauguration speeches set the mood for the Terra Madre event at Turin’s Palazzo del Lavoro yesterday afternoon.

Carlo Petrini, founder and president of the Slow Food movement, welcomed the 4,888 delegates from 128 countries to Turin. “We are constructing a new society,” he said, “ a society based on fraternity”.

Petrini had sharp words for the producers of GMO crops, who attempt to “make a mockery of the traditions and knowledge of small farming communities.” To defend the rights and land of producers all over the world, “Let us become co-producers,” he said.

Miguel Altieri – “Say no to the patenting of life”
Altieri, of the University of California, referred to the Terra Madre event as a “historical opportunity to challenge the false promises” of agriculture based upon “flawed scientific and philosophical assumptions”.

He presented a detailed program for food security which included the elimination of production monopolies and a moratorium on GM foods. Altieri also encouraged the audience to “Say no to the patenting of life”.

Vandana Shiva - “A tribute to the earth’s caretakers”
Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva expressed her joy at seeing the multi-cultural delegation at Terra Madre, calling it a “celebration of life’s diversities and the earth’s bounties”.

Following on from Carlo Petrini’s earlier remarks, Shiva emphasized the importance of all of us becoming “co-producers rather than consumers.”

“Food is the currency, the tradition and condition of life,” she said. Modern agriculture is the “residue of a war economy… the chemicals of warfare have been adapted for agriculture and now conduct a war against the earth and farmers.”

The WTO also came under fire for propagating policies that lead to debt and displacement.

“This planet cannot afford the burden of free trade” stated Shiva, “nor the present agricultural system which condemns one billion people to hunger. She praised the ‘living economy’ represented by the audience, an economy “that celebrates life” and lauded the recent triumphs of the small farming communities of India who won their fight against the patent on Basmati rice and low-gluten wheat.

Alice Waters- “Food is Beautiful”
World-renowned American chef Alice Waters spoke of the “passion, wisdom and integrity” of the delegates of Terra Madre.

“Food is our common language,” she said, “and eating together instills in us the most important values.”

Yet people are increasingly alienated from this practice, she added, pointing out that in the United States, only one in five children eat as a family. She called for us to teach our children that “Food is beautiful and beautiful things merit attention and care,” and half-jokingly mentioned that she has already sent a letter to the wife of American presidential candidate John Kerry to offer her services in the drawing up both of the White House menu and a national program for food education in American schools.

“School lunches should become an academic subject,” she claimed. “Imagine if all school food was provided by producers practicing sustainable agriculture,” she continued, quoting the example of a school of 1,000 children in Berkeley, California, which buys from local, organic farms.

“The only piece of information which is exchanged between the producer and the consumer today is the price, “she remarked. Waters called for us to “break down the wall of ignorance” and fight for a worldwide revolution in food education.