Meeting In Minsk

19 Jan 2007

EXCLUSIVE – The second edition of Terra Madre in 2006 has certainly stimulated convivium activity in Belarus, motivating all the representatives of food communities to join the movement. They are now continuing to work together on the future of the movement in their country.

Slow Food Minsk, the first convivium in Belarus, was set up two years ago, just prior to the first edition of Terra Madre. It now boasts about 30 members, all actively involved in protecting good, clean and fair food — not only in Minsk, but throughout the country.

The convivium’s first major event took place just after New Year and the Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on January 7. The two weeks between Christmas Eve (January 6) up to Epiphany (January 19) are called Yuletide and are considered the most important winter holiday in Belarus. The customs and traditions connected with this period are closely tied to the year’s harvest and are very important to the country’s agriculture.

Slow Food Minsk fittingly chose January 10 to bring together the people who influence farming in the area most directly. Farmers, academics, representatives of NGOs, beekeepers, cooks and journalists from all over the country flocked to the capital to share impressions and experiences, as well as discussing proposals and projects to further develop the Slow Food movement in Belarus. In their conversations, they came to the conclusion that the experience at Terra Madre 2006 had made everyone rethink their attitudes towards their work and better define what needed to be changed.

Igor Danilov, the Slow Food Minsk convivium leader, noted that the event offered a wonderful opportunity to express different views on the future of the movement in Belarus. Almost everybody had something to say, and all the speakers shared the idea that the future of food is inextricably linked to local customs and traditions.

The convivium also decided to continue its expeditions throughout Belarus to source and document local traditional dishes. To this end, the new members invited others in the convivium to go to visit their farms. Representatives of the Belarussian State University of Culture and Art proposed carrying out research into the ethnographic basis of traditional products and publishing the results to educate consumers about what they eat and where it comes from.

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