Slow Food Congress: The Importance of Local

18 May 2010

The 7th national congress for Slow Food Italy drew to a close on Sunday, having brought 622 delegates from 300 convivia (Slow Food’s local groups, called condotte in Italy) to Abano Terme, near Padua. The three days of meetings and speeches revealed a cross-section of Italians from around the country working to protect and promote food that is good, clean and fair.

Today, delegates voted to make some significant changes to the national statute, moving towards greater representation for the association at a local level. Convivium committees and regional assemblies are being given more responsibility, allowing for broader sharing of decisions at a local level.

Slow Food Italy’s governing body, the Council of Governors, was also nominated, composed of 53 governors selected by the regional congresses held in recent months around the country. Roberto Burdese was reconfirmed as president. Silvio Barbero, one of the founders of Slow Food’s forerunner, Arcigola, was named as vice-president, passing his role as national secretary on to Daniele Buttignol.

“With the Presidia, the convivia and all our projects, Slow Food attaches great importance to a sense of place, but without ever falling into localism,” said Burdese during his closing speech. “We avoid this risk because every single local group is part of a national and international network of convivia and Terra Madre communities, with which it shares objectives and battles.”

Talking about GMOs, Burdese said: “We must keep fighting to stop them entering the whole food production chain. It isn’t easy, but we can have an effect thanks to the construction of alliances at a national level by Slow Food Italy and at a local level by every convivium.”

The Council of Governors nominated at Abano represents the renewal the association has been undergoing in recent years. Out of 53 governors, 30 are new this year. The average age is 49, and 14 are women. With co-producers, university researchers, teachers, students, producers, artisans and chefs, they reflect the wide range of Slow Food members.

Lastly, the delegates approved an education manifesto. This document is the result of Slow Food’s 24 years of practical work in educational and training activities (School Gardens, Taste Workshops, the Master of Food, etc.), and offers a theoretical framework for future developments. The manifesto confirms the pleasure of reappropriating the senses through hands-on experiences, encouraging exchange and dialog between members of the community.

Illustration: Marco Cazzato

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