Situated a few kilometers north of Izmir along the Aegean coast, the town of Foça has celebrated the first anniversary of their local Earth Market – Turkey’s first to join Slow Food’s network of farmers’ markets – with a three day event dedicated to good, clean and fair food. From April 12 to 14, more than 20 producers from across Anatolia were welcomed to the Terra Madre Foça’da event, an opportunity to showcase gastronomic diversity and the value of traditional agricultural systems.
“We needed an event to promote our ideas and the Slow Food philosophy,” said Gul Girismen, leader of Slow Food Foça Zeytindaliı. “Everyone keeps thinking of our market as an ‘organic market.’ That’s why we wanted to make it clear that ours is much more than a market of ecologically ‘clean’ products. With the market, we are protecting our gastronomic traditions, adding value to the many homemade products in the region and contributing to the local economy of the surrounding small villages.” The weekly farmers’ market also offers taste education activities and a seed exchange program.
The Terra Madre gathering united producers from across Anatolia to showcase the food diversity they are preserving, reminding consumers of the traditions, ingredients and culinary techniques that make their cuisine one of the richest in the world. The producers came armed with cheeses from Kars, a town on the slopes of Mount Ararat famous for its aged cheeses and quality pastures; wines from Bozcaada, an enchanting Aegean island where the winemaking tradition is rooted in ancient history; and many other products including apple vinegar, wild lavender jam, extra-virgin olive oil, sourdough bread, fresh herbs and greens and much more.
Slow Food Foça Zeytindalı highlighted the qualities of these products with seminars and workshops, including lessons on wine history, quality olive oils and bread. Lead by experts such as Ahmet Uhri, an ethno-archeologist and author on local gastronomy, and Nejat Kutup, a lecturer at the University of Izmir, the popularity of the sessions indicates that there is great interest in upholding local food biodiversity, but more actions are need to give consumers the power to participate.
Piero Sardo, president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, emphasized the need to support the continued production of the many quality Turkish products that are at risk of being lost, in order to protect local food biodiversity. To identify these products, the Essedra project has been launched to map food biodiversity in Turkey and seven Balkan countries. Coordinated by Slow Food and funded by the European Commission, the project aims to safeguard local gastronomic traditions currently at risk of disappearing, and strengthen the capacity of civil society in these countries to contribute to supporting rural development and sustainable agricultural policies. In Turkey, Slow Food is collaborating with Mutfak Dostları Derneği, an organization run by Ahmet Örs which has been working for years to promote Turkish gastronomic traditions.
The Terra Madre Foça’da event was made possible by the support of the Municipality of Foça, the City of Izmir, Slow Food and the UNDP Supportive Programme for Turkey.