Slow Food launches its newest project called Earth Markets this weekend in Montevarchi, Tuscany. The goal is to build a global network of farmers’ markets, a network that creates a viable economy in both developing and developed parts of the world while still respecting the earth, local culture and diversity, and the importance of food.
Slow Food President Carlo Petrini says these markets are “… not just an attempt to return to the past or to completely reject the current system. It is an economic system able to compete at a global level with the old systems.”
Building this network will also help cut out the intermediaries between producers and consumers, reduce the food miles, and therefore also the price of the food.
The Earth Markets project got underway after a survey of farmers’ markets was conducted in Canada, Great Britain, the United States and at organic markets in Italy. The first markets were launched in El Mina, Lebanon, near Tripoli, and Bamako, Mali in 2007. Slow Food has set a goal to open 20 markets in the next 12 months in Italy, in addition to others around the world.
The markets will be made up of and run by local producers who agree to sell their fresh, seasonal products and guarantee fair prices. Shoppers at the Earth Markets will be more than just consumers, they are part of the mechanism that makes the market successful. Consumers will have the opportunity to get to know the producers personally, and hear stories about their lives and products.
The three-day meeting brings together 70 participants from across Italy and other countries around the world such as Mali, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is being coordinated by Slow Food Italy, The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Slow Food Tuscany, with the support of the Region of Tuscany, ARSIA, the Province of Arezzo and Municipality of Montevarchi.
The conference is being held at the same time as the Montevarchi Market, which has been held once a month since 2005. This market is a good example of a successful local small-farmers’ market.