Terra Madre opens

26 Oct 2006

Delegates from all over the globe, people of a hundred different
cultures, under flags of many colors, paraded into Terra Madre’s
plenary session to the stirring strains of a brass band.

As the focus of the event, representatives of all the Terra Madre
communities were seated onstage behind a procession of speakers who
greeted them, acknowledged the importance of their contribution to the
health of the world food system, and thanked them for their

Carlo Petrini, Slow Food’s president, extended an eloquent welcome toward
the food communities, of which 1,583 from 150 nations were
represented in Turin’s Oval this afternoon. Calling the diversity
of the gathering “a marvellous thing”, he pointed out that the
presence of Italy’s President in the audience was further evidence of the
importance of Terra Madre’s mission. His speech followed
those of Sergio Chiamparino, Mayor of Turin, and Mercedes Bresso,
President of the Piedmont Regional Authority, who gave thanks for
the delegates’ presence here in Turin as well as for the
hospitality of the 300 Turin families who are hosting them.

And as the gathering transcends cultural and linguistic bounds, so too did
the speeches. Aminata Traoré came to the Terra Madre stage from Mali, and
Kamal Mouzawak from Lebanon. Both discussed in
French the importance of food in their own communities. Ihar
Danilau, of the Community of producers from Minsk, Belarus,
addressed the assembly in Russian. But the help of headsets
available at every seat broadcasting translations in English,
French and Spanish – in an extension of the work already being done by the
60 translators present here – allowed listeners to understand the
essential harmony of all the messages being delivered, in
whatever language.

It is a message that resonates powerfully from the farmers’ market of
Lebanon to Alice Waters’s Berkeley restaurant. It is a message
of gratitude and recognition; American author and journalist
Michael Pollan lauded the Terra Madre delegates and “the plants,
animals and funghi that [they] protect and defend”.

It is a message of hope for a future that is Good, Clean and Fair; and
when President Napolitano took the stage to conclude the
proceedings, he noted how deeply moved he was by what he had heard.

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