Just an hour outside of the chaos and pollution of Seoul, the city of Namyangju lies in an area known for its clean water, magnificent natural scenery and the health and longevity of its residents. It is here – where the long history of traditional handicrafts is still practiced by locals and an organic farming movement is growing rapidly – that small-scale producers from across Asia and Oceania have been arriving for AsiO Gusto: Slow Food’s first international event on the continent.
From today until October 6, producers, artisans, food communities, chefs, youth and food lovers from more than forty countries from across Asia and Oceania will showcase their local traditional products, food cultures and farming knowledge and practices. Inspired by Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre event, AsiO Gusto will include conferences, taste workshops, international restaurants, street food, educational activities, cooking competitions, an Ark of Taste exhibition, demonstrations of secrets of traditional South Korean dishes, excursions to local farms and a market to showcase the diversity of Asian foods.
“Asia is a continent where the issues that Slow Food is working on are highly evident: industrialization, monocultures, nutrition security…” said Paolo Di Croce, Secretary General of Slow Food. “South Korea imports 40% of its national dish, kimchi. It’s crazy that even a country with such strong traditions is still following the rules of the global market. Slow Food is less developed here compared to other parts of the world so AsiO Gusto is a great opportunity to bring together these delegates to share knowledge, build friendships and develop an understanding that farmers are facing the same problems everywhere.”
The event opened officially today with a colorful opening ceremony that included Slow Food’s trademark flag ceremony; traditional music, dance and martial arts performances; and speeches from Slow Food delegates and local representatives.
Organizers are expecting 200,000 visitors to arrive over the next six days. “This shows that there is definitely an interest towards our movement,” says Di Croce, “and hopefully we will show people that a different world of eating and producing food is possible.”