Diversity Shines at Terra Madre

21 Oct 2010

Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto was officially opened today in a ceremony marked by an explosion of color brought by the flags from 161 countries, and the sounds of indigenous tongues from the five continents. The occasion marked the beginning of the fourth biannual gathering of food communities cooks, academics, youth and musicians – united in a desire to promote sustainable local food production in harmony with the environment while respecting knowledge handed down over the generations.

In celebration of Terra Madre 2010’s focus on the cultural and linguistic diversities, speakers from five continents welcome to the 6,000-plus participants in their native tongues. Representatives from Australian aborigines, the Gamo (Ethiopia), the Kamchadal (Russia), the Sami (Sweden) and the Guaranì (Brazil) spoke of the plight of their native people and the importance of preserving their values and traditions for future generations.

“My people’s ancestors were farmers, and we have grown up as farmers,” said Malebo Mancho Maze, from the Gamo of Ethiopia who spoke in his native tongue, “We have inherited crop varieties and we have a responsibility to pass it on to the next generation. In this life, if we keep food in our hands our future will be secure.”

The need to value traditional knowledge and combine it with scientific research for the future was emphasized by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini in his speech. “We must have a dialogue between science and traditional knowledge,” he said. “The main holders of this knowledge are native peoples, women, farmers and elders. Not only should they be listened to, but should be at the front line for the challenges this world and the crisis present us. Yet these are the people least considered by politicians and media.”

Earlier in the day, Terra Madre’s concurrent event, the Salone del Gusto opened with an inauguration ceremony. The eighth edition of Slow Food’s biannual celebration of food culture will welcome food producers from all over the world, including producers from twenty-nine new international Slow Food Presidia, to display their unique products,

The ceremony was introduced by Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy. While admitting that eight editions over 14 years was not such a long history for the Salone del Gusto, he said that in that time it had become a global reference point, not only for gastronomy and agriculture but many other issues beyond food. With guests from over 160 countries, he described the 2010 Salone del Gusto as being the best ever, its strength coming from the many nodes of the enormous Slow Food network, and likening its members to little ants, working together to build something big.

Following a line up of speeches, the last to speak was European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, who said that food must be looked to not just for the continuation of physical life but also as a form of continuity with our roots. Tradition was an opportunity, he said, for as long as food was not just food for the body but also for the soul. He concluded by sharing a personal belief, that collective change must come first from the individual. “We must not wait for Petrini or for Galan to change things,” he said. “We must first change our own behavior.”

by Simone Gie and Carla Ranicki

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