At the Slow Food councilor’s meeting held in Istanbul from June 14-16, Carlo Petrini spoke at length about the crucial role of indigenous peoples, women, youth and the elderly in leading us to a better food system. The following is an extract from his talk.
Our meeting here in Istanbul has been a very rich experience, showing us first hand our extraordinary diversity. Slow Food embraces diversity through its networks in 150 countries and events such as AsiO Gusto, happening this October in Korea, and in particular the next Terra Madre Indigenous Peoples, an extraordinary meeting of native populations to be held in 2015.
I was lucky enough to participate in the meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and this means that the global assembly of indigenous peoples recognizes that Slow Food speaks for it. On that occasion, I was able to see once again how much the knowledge of the indigenous peoples of the world must be a source of inspiration for all of us. Violence against indigenous peoples deserves not only our attention, but for we as humankind to be able to interact with those who are the expression of a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. What is taking place in Turkey shows the suffering of a relationship between humans and nature that has been completely compromised by violence.
This is the same violence that indigenous populations have been subject to, and where there has not been a physical genocide, there has been a kind of cultural genocide. The future of humanity must have a different foundation. It must be very attentive towards the indigenous peoples, women, youth and the elderly who are cast aside by high finance. These are the groups that will show us the planet’s sustainable future. For Slow Food, listening to women, the elderly, young people and the indigenous must be the first and most important activity that we carry out in our convivia and communities.
What I’m saying is not poetry, but reality. These people are the future of the planet and anyone who thinks they are at the margins is wrong. There is not one of the Terra Madre food communities in which women are not involved or the wisdom of the elderly is not taken into consideration. Looking at the indigenous communities, often we find how modern their practices actually are. We are defending and supporting the planet’s vanguard, those who have a concept of development that does not prioritize only profit and the arrogance of the economy of the strong. But we are coming from the other side: We are the 99% of humanity that has less power than that 1% that has the big capital, but this cannot go on forever.
In this sense Terra Madre has been a life teacher, teaching us that gastronomy is not the right of the few but of everyone, that the planet’s resources are not infinite but have an end, that real democracy is practiced every day. Whoever thinks that all this is part of a poetic vision is cut off from the world: We are not writing poetry, but we do think that poetry can change the world. We didn’t come into the world to make money, but to be happy, and this is the future. If humans really are sapiens – the Latin for ‘wise’ – they will realize that sooner or later this system will destroy the environment. And showing us the way forward will be the indigenous peoples, youth, women and the elderly.