“Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, more than three million people have left the country in search of safety. Millions more have left their homes to seek shelter in other parts of the country, further away from the front lines.
Yet we are proud to report that around 90% of our Slow Food Community members in Ukraine—farmers, food producers, cooks—have remained on their land. They are doing everything they can to keep going, to safeguard their crops and animals, to feed soldiers and refugees… to save our country.
Beyond this human tragedy, the rich biodiversity of Ukraine is under the same direct threat of bombardment. One of the core missions of Slow Food is to save biodiversity, and the urgency of this task becomes all the more apparent in wartime, where rare animal breeds and crop varieties could easily be wiped out forever.
There are several animal breeds that we are focused on saving, some of which are already on the Ark of Taste, like the Poltavsaya Glinistaya Chicken, as well as others that are eligible but have not yet been added. Many of our rare poultry breeds are safeguarded by the State Poultry Research Station of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences. This institution is located just a few kilometers south of Kharkiv, one of the most heavily-bombarded cities in the country, and is at extreme risk. Helping our colleagues here is one of our highest priorities, and we will do our best to get money and supplies to them.
Another high priority for us is the veterinarian and farmer Mykhailo Travetsky, who is a custodian of many rare breeds of cattle, including the Grey Ukrainian Cow, in Sumy Oblast—an area which is largely under Russian military occupation. It costs him around €60 per day to feed his animals, and helping Mykhailo to continue his work and conserve these breeds will be another priority destination for the money we raise.
Beyond these two specific cases, all the other farmers and food producers in our network need whatever help we are able to give them, as they are all working in wartime: that means they are producing all the food they can and giving it away to refugees, soldiers and all those in need. They have no revenue at present and very limited resources.
We have spoken already of the efforts being made by chefs like Ievgen Klopotenko to feed as many people as they can in Kyiv, and as he said: there is nothing unique about it. All the members of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance in Ukraine are doing the same thing, wherever it is humanly possible to cook, they are feeding people and keeping us alive.
Besides cooking specific Ukrainian dishes and donating money to good causes for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees abroad, we ask the members of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance around the world to help us in whatever they can, even if it is just simply drawing attention to the war and raising awareness of the struggle we are living through. Your solidarity means a lot to us, and knowing that we have your support helps us to keep going.
We will endeavor to give you as much information as we can about what the members of our network are doing, and how your donations are helping them. In return, we ask you, the Slow Food network worldwide, to share as much information as you can about how you are showing solidarity with Ukraine.
– Julia Pitenko, Convivium Leader of Slow Food in Kyiv, on behalf of all Slow Food activists in Ukraine