Slow Food is celebrating two important anniversaries this year: twenty years since the foundation of the association and the tenth anniversary of the Salone del Gusto.
The inaugural Salone del Gusto, held in 1996, was introduced as a fair concerned with providing visibility and opportunities for small producers and disappearing products. It provided an alternative to mainstream producer events that were becoming increasingly monopolized by large industrial companies. Salone instead focused on traditional or DOC products, and also dedicated significant space to educational activities, providing visitors the opportunity to develop their understanding of the features and nature of the products on display.
Since these beginnings, each biennial edition of the Salone del Gusto has seen an evolution of these themes and the physical manifestation of the event.
The Ark of Taste was highlighted from the beginning; it promoted the need to catalogue threatened food biodiversity and has from 1998 onwards featured products from around the world that showcase such biodiversity. In 2000, 90 Italian Presidia producers made their Salone debut. The following edition in 2002 went international, bringing in 19 Presidia from around the world to join the fair. Meanwhile, the Slow Food association continued to grow worldwide and support important projects around the world.
An enormous development occurred in 2004, when Salone del Gusto was joined by the simultaneous Terra Madre event, a meeting of world food communities. This momentous gathering, which brought together 5,000 farmers from 130 different countries, marked a memorable experience and turning point for Slow Food and event partners Turin and Piedmont. With the ethical and sustainable vision of agriculture and food production central to Slow Food, Salone del Gusto offers a huge increase in its international showcase of worldwide food biodiversity in 2006.