Terra Madre Day Celebrates Local Foods

04 Dec 2009

Turkish saffron, Canadian wild berries, a traditional soup stock cube from Africa and a British cow are just some of the local foods that will take centre stage next Thursday in events happening around the world for Slow Food’s first ever Terra Madre Day, a celebration of ‘eating locally’ and the association’s 20th anniversary. More than 800 communities from 115 countries are joining this occasion, and many have chosen to focus on celebrating and promoting a local product close to their culture or at risk of extinction.

Eighty percent of agricultural biodiversity has been lost over the past century, with many more local foods facing the threat of extinction today. In addition to providing the basis of regional cuisines, local specialties can root communities to their cultures and histories, forming part of a unique identity. On December 10, thousands of people will defend and celebrate their local products in the spirit of Terra Madre Day.

In Safranbolu, Turkey, a city named after its native saffron, the Ankara convivium will focus on this local crop that came close to disappearing just a decade ago. A large cauldron of Zerde, a saffron pudding that dates back to the Ottoman kitchens, will be prepared from recently harvested threads and shared by villagers, local cooks and other guests in an effort to increase use of this local saffron in restaurants, homes and gastronomic tourism.

In Africa, women in central Burkina Faso will come together to promote their production of soumbala, a traditional version of the modern soup cube now endangered due to the invasion of the Maggi cube across West Africa. Many women still make soumbala from a base of Néré seeds and sell them at local markets, but face enormous difficulties in producing and selling their traditional product. On Terra Madre Day these women will come together to form a network with the purpose of protecting and strengthening their livelihoods, and to promote local alternatives to homogenized products from multi-national food companies.

In other tributes around the world, the Daylesford convivium in the UK will present the Gloucester Cattle story on Terra Madre Day – commemorating this ancient, rare breed native to Gloucestershire. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the Cape Breton convivium in Nova Scotia, Canada will promote and celebrate their native blueberries and cranberries at their local farmers’ market, with vendors preparing berry-based dishes, distributing recipes, and decorating their market in blue and red in the theme of “Berries Gone Wild”. Slow Food Presidia producers in Belarus will open a Museum of Tea, transformed out of an abandoned house, and the Les Bituriges Vivisques convivium in Bordeaux, France will prepare and taste ancient potato varities. There will be a local ‘red rice’ party in Bali, Indonesia, while in Ireland, the Tipperary convivium will prepare and enjoy traditional Irish black pudding, a dish with a history as rich as its flavor.

Promoting and celebrating a local food product is just one of the many ways communites around the globe are choosing to celebrate Terra Madre Day.
To view all the events, visit the interactive world map
To join the celebration, find out more on the Terra Madre Day website and register your activity here.

Simone Gie
[email protected]

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