A Slow Transformation

15 Nov 2010

At the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, held from October 21 to 25 in Turin, Italy, we saw an immense collective exercise of emotional intelligence: conviviality, commitment, pleasure, fraternity, deepening knowledge and reciprocal education. I say it after every edition, but it’s really true that more than ever during those days it is possible to actually grasp this network woven between Slow Food and the Terra Madre communities. Those who attended left with an important mission, charged by the desire to do more for a better food system that can restore the pleasures of life to us. And now they know that they are not alone, they know that they can do it.

The presence of so many young people made us realize that the world of gastronomy is changing; it is becoming the neogastronomy we were hoping for. These young people are engaged in inspiring actions, joined in a movement that is spreading all around the world.

Farmers, women, indigenous people and the elderly, along with the young – long the weakest divisions of society – will bring us real modernity and real innovation for a better future. During the Terra Madre opening ceremony, representatives of indigenous peoples were the ones who understood how to dig deep into our soul, because many of us have had our souls sold, while they are defending them. They are fully aware of the value of what they do, of the importance of memory and diversity. They have much to teach us, and above all it seems that they were the ones who wrote the guidelines for good, clean and fair quality.

Never before has so much human diversity spoken with one voice as during those days in Turin. For years we’ve talked about Slow Food and Terra Madre in terms of revolution. But a “slow revolution” like ours really has more in common with a transformation. The big difference is that while transformation is as radical as revolution, it does not destroy memory and the past, it respects life and does not force time.

The Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre provided a united boost of confidence, calling on us to reassert our fundamental values, the ones we are seeking to articulate in the “Sustainability and Food Policies” document presented in draft form in Turin. The policies were drafted by the University of Gastronomic Sciences’s Advanced School in Sustainability and Food Policies, which for four months collected suggestions from online forums and ideas from other universities in Italy and abroad. The document was developed, debated and corrected by the communities during the Terra Madre meetings, and second draft was presented to the public during the final ceremony of Terra Madre, the most exciting and inspiring moment of the whole event.

The French philosopher Edgar Morin was right: “Everything must begin again, but everything has already begun.” We are fully part of this new beginning, and with the joy of having met our friends in Turin still in our hearts, we are already working hard on December’s Terra Madre Day. It will be of vital importance. Mark it in your calendars; let’s enjoy celebrating it and make our voice and our ideas heard strongly and clearly in all the 163 countries represented by our beautiful network.

Carlo Petrini
Slow Food International President

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