Let’s learn not to consume the world!

06 Jul 2012

The relationship between food and the weather is one of the topics to be reflected upon at the next Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, in Turin from October 25 – 29. This subject is more relevant than ever, with the recent Rio+20 conference on sustainable development organized by the United Nations.

Think globally and act locally

In Brazil, however, there was little achieved and the summit’s conclusions have been defined as an epic failure. While the secretary general of the UN Ban Ki-Moon talked about solutions and proposals that “represent significant progress and a great success for the international community” observers underlined how the approved

text contains almost no concrete elements. It is true that we talk about green economy, but ultimately just to say that everyone is free to act as they please. It is time now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to adopt the motto that Slow Food and environmental groups have been shouting for ages: think globally and act locally, defending the tree to protect the forest, the individual for the species and the fish for the seas. It is in this way alone that we will take a step forward. As Carlo Petrini explained, the most reterete messages that came from Rio were not from the official conference: “Fortunately on Flamengo beach in a livelier, more open setting the People’s Summit took place, a gathering of the people of this country-continent, with thousands of agricultural communities, associations and organizations all engaged in educative and social activities in the cities and slums. Humble people from all over the country who fight for land rights, against deforestation, who practice organic agriculture to reduce the use of chemical substances in our ecosystems: a multitude of subjects rooted in civil society”.    

In short, Rio was a missed opportunity that produced a list of vague policies, distant from everyday life, united under the equally vague concept of a green economy. Meanwhile the true green economy is produced by those “who re-learn the know-how of food and make it available to the community through educational and recuperation activities, re-evaluating traditional products.” Petrini goes on to remind us that “a green economy is not made merely of solar or wind power but with a true revolution that permits us to actively fight climate change, redesigning the entire system starting with food. Through small daily gestures, changing our diet or spending habits, we can have an influence on a new kind of economy that we call new or green”.

Everyday green
Slow Food wants to emphasize the importance of everyday behavior. In the recent publication Fulmini e polpette (Lightning and meatballs) we propose simple good practices for the adoption of an eco-friendly diet and participation in the safekeeping of the planet. We must not forget that every year each one of us in Europe wastes 179 kilos of food, that the average meal travels 1,900 kilometers before arriving on our tables and that it takes 15,500 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.  The consumption of meat, growing the world over, is behind the growing demand for grains needed as fodder, which thus causes an increase in the amount of land used that was once dedicated to other plants. As l’Atlante dei futuri del mondo (published in Italian by Slow Food Editore) reminds us if we look at the consumption of water in the world the data are alarming: it is estimated that from 1900 through 2025 water withdrawals will have increased nine fold. width=

+ 2700%…

Even if agriculture is responsible for the majority of water consumption, household use is not to be underestimated: during the same period it has increased by 2700%. And clearly the future of our water supply does not depend so much on how many people live on the planet, but on their practices. Never before in history has water been such a rare commodity and its demand so great: it isn’t difficult to think, then, that the next world conflicts will be over the control of this resource.

Your turn

Which concrete actions can we take in our daily lives? It’s much easier to talk about the importance of “Think Global, Act Local” than to put it into practice. Starting with food, we should buy local produce, from farmers’ markets or directly from farms where possible, preferring products derived from sustainable agricultural practices and fruits and vegetables that are in season. When available, we can buy products in bulk: less packaging means less trash. And above all: we must learn to give the proper value to the food we consume, dedicating time and thought to our purchasing choices and rediscovering our culture and food traditions. These steps alone will help us significantly limit our impact on the climate.

The new important date for “sustainable development” to mark in the calendar is 2015: in that year global objectives should be decided and the conference to sign a legally binding agreement for the fight against global warming will take place.

We await your presence at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin to discuss and explore these themes. In particular you can discover more on these topics at the following conferences:

Weather at the table, Friday October 26, 12 p

Possible futures, Monday October 29, 3 pm


Download Fulmini e polpette (in Italian)

L’Atlante dei futuri del mondo is available here




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