Taste the Balkans

05 Dec 2013

Apart from mapping products in their home countries, a significant task for the ESSEDRA project partners will to work on the joint campaigns to be activated in the Balkan region and Turkey in the coming years. Organizing campaigns means on the one hand raising awareness, mobilizing citizens and influencing their everyday food choices, and on the other pushing the relevant authorities to promote sustainable rural development throughout the area.

To this end, with the aim of acquiring experience and skills, all the partners met in Sofia for “Taste the Balkans”, an important chance to assess what has been done so far in the different countries.

For example, from Turkey, Burcu Gezeroglu brought news of the campaign to protect the lüfer, which has managed to unite very different figures—academics, chefs, politicians from different sides, civil society organizations, fishers and consumers—under the banner of one simple demand: to raise the minimum catch size for lüfer from 14 to 24 centimeters to save it from the risk of extinction. The clarity of this demand, along with the capacity and organization of a highly efficient network, that led to the success of the campaign and its gradual transformation into something even bigger and more ambitious: the first edition of Slow Fish Istanbul, held from October 17 to 20 this year.

Another story came from Albania, where, Pierpaolo Ambrosi explained, Vis Albania has started an important initiative integrating local development, tourism possibilities and food production into a single project to encourage the sustainable development of the country’s rural, mountainous north.

More fascinating inspiration came from the other partner countries, working on campaigns to protect local breeds or promote raw-milk cheeses. This meeting served to introduce all the different actions put into practice by the ESSEDRA partners and the challenges they have faced so far, in order to build a critical mass for moving towards the shared sustainability objectives. The days in Sofia offered an important opportunity for comparison and discussion, helping the partners become more aware of their strengths, the initiative’s significance and the main political and social challenges which must be faced together in the coming years.

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