The number of people in the world suffering from hunger is higher than ever before, and one of the reasons is the failure of “aid” policies in developing countries. As a result, there is a general rethinking going on in the world of ‘development’. Within this context comes the 4Cities4Dev project, co-funded by the European Union and involving Slow Food and the cities of Turin, Tours, Bilbao and Riga.
The project will illustrate the approach Slow Food has developed over the years in its biodiversity-protection work. This approach not only protects a local food product, but also strengthens the community that identifies with the product, uniting care for the environment with a strong social and cultural impact. It goes beyond providing financial assistance, to focus on motivating the recovery of dignity and pride in local traditions.
Often ‘local’ is seen as outdated and useless, and everything that comes from the West is automatically believed to be better. Slow Food’s many micro-interventions aim to reverse this and are based on the structured network of Terra Madre communities, who are working to improve the world in which we live, starting from food.
4Cities4Dev has identified seven examples of this approach in Africa, representing diverse aspects of the global food system: the exploitation of marine resources, countered by safeguarding sustainable small-scale coastal fishing (Imraguen Women’s Mullet Botargo Presidium in Mauritania); the challenges facing herders in Africa (Pokot Ash Yogurt Presidium in Kenya); the defense of primary forest and the production of natural shade-grown crops (Harenna Forest Wild Coffee Presidium in Ethiopia and the Mananara Vanilla Presidium in Madagascar); food gardens as education and means of subsistence (community gardens in Côte d’Ivoire, part of the Thousand Gardens in Africa project); the protection of traditional seasonings as resistance against the industrial stock cube (Dogon Somè Presidium in Mali); and grains processed using traditional techniques (Fadiouth Island Salted Millet Couscous in Senegal).
The project also wants to raise awareness among the European public and direct consumers towards more conscious and responsible choices that show an understanding that everything is connected and that our choices have important consequences elsewhere in the world.
A traveling exhibition will bring this message to four events in the partner cities: Eurogusto in Tours held last weekend, Algusto in Bilbao in December, an event in Riga in April 2012 and the next Salone del Gusto/Terra Madre in Turin in October 2012. At each of these events, a photographic display will illustrate some of the problems with the global food system, while interactive areas for children and adults will tell the unexpected stories behind foods we think we know well and teach us how to use all our senses when sampling food. A food garden will show how to reconstruct a healthy relationship with the earth, while a virtual supermarket will provide an opportunity to reflect on how we can make our choices more responsible, and learn which small actions can have big consequences.
Additionally, a cinema room will show short films made in four of the seven African countries, highlighting small examples of resistance and showing how theory can become practice. Read more about the first film to be produced here.
Find out more:
www.4cities4dev.eu (currently in Italian, English and French; Spanish and Latvian will be online soon)