The new Slow Food Almanac, fruit of a joint venture between the movement’s International Office and publishing house with the collaboration of other sectors besides, was presented at the Salone del Gusto in Torino last month. The publication will replace the international magazine Slow as a benefit for members.
The stunningly illustrated new volume follows up a series of reports from authoritative Slow Food representatives round the world with monographic sections on subjects close to the heart of the movement—The Network, Biodiversity, Pleasure, Local Economy, Global/Local—together with a special focus on GMOs. It concludes with a handy Appendix that brings together data and statistics about the entire Slow Food universe.
Guest contributors include the likes of the Austrian physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra, the French writer and viticulturist Nicolas Joly, Michel Smith, the Mexican writer José N. Iturriaga de la Fuente, the Tunisian journalist Lilia Zaouali, the Chilean agroecologist Miguel A. Altieri, the Indian activist Vandana Shiva, the British journalist and writer Joanna Blythman, the American sociologist George Ritzer, the French sociologist Serge Latouche, the British industiral economist Robin Murray, the Malian writer Aminata D. Traorè and the Ethiopian biologist Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher.
In his introduction below, Slow Food president Carlo Petrini describes the ideas behind the Almanac.
It is often necessary to interpret major changes not just in terms of their immediate repercussions on our daily lives but also with an eye to the future. Not that I wish to sound immodest but I do believe that, as you read these words, you are experiencing such a change. As a Slow Food member, you are about to browse through the first historic number of our new publication, the Slow Food Almanac.
The Almanac is a milestone in the history of a movement that has become a unique melting pot of diversity. The strength of Slow Food has increasingly shifted from what it gives its members to what its members can give to it, to its intellectual growth and to the perception it generates of itself externally—and when I say externally I mean the whole world.
As we reap the rewards of Terra Madre among food producers worldwide, we are seeing for ourselves how the topics we address and the work we do are so universal that they appeal to any type of human diversity. Food respectful of memory, culture, people and the planet we live on is an ancestral element, a sacred part of our existence that interweaves our experiences and those of nature.
It is a means of self-expression, a way of getting on with mutual respect. More than anything else, food truly is what we are—irrespective of the differences that mark our identities. Today, restoring food—debased along with its overseers, exploited as a tool of control and global power—to its central role in our passage though the world is an act of great political relevance. To some extent, it is a revolutionary act.
Think of what Slow Food is today, think of the people it is made up of: food producers from every corner of the planet (who we should learn to embrace and involve more and more) and all sorts of people who either know or want to know what they are eating—for their own pleasure, for their own health, for the health of their children, for a better world to come.
We are a representation of diversity in miniature. Within Slow Food peasants in the most isolated rural regions team up with hard-bitten city dwellers keen to rediscover slowness as a homeopathic cure, their lives increasingly disoriented by modern complexity and the speed on which it gorges itself.
Yet it is precisely in the complexity that we somehow represent so well that we have to find the creative flair and the force to make our demands for better, cleaner and fairer food heard. We must fear the disorder that surrounds us no longer. Precisely the commitment to keep an association as complex as post-Terra Madre Slow Food united has made us realize that we have to put our faith in that disorder. We only need to decide what type of life we want to live and how we want to live it to realize that complexity can bear glorious fruits.
This is the lesson we learn from nature and biodiversity, this is the lesson we learn from the pathetic failures of all those who have sought to find an easy way out of complexity and disorder with a barrage of fast food chains, GMOs and intercontinental transport, filling up supermarket shelves and making them identical everywhere with no respect whatsoever for the seasons and the diversity of peoples.
The more we grow as an association, the more we will be disorderly. The more we welcome new friends from faraway places, the more we will learn to live in the world. This Almanac cannot represent everybody, but it is our principal point of contact and it does provide a space for us to get to know and talk to each other and understand how this chaotic complexity of ours can improve our lives and even please Mother Earth herself. Yes, because we also defend the right to pleasure of the planet we live on.
Slow Food Almanac
Slow Food Editore
Bra, Italy 2008.
ISBN ALMANACCO 2008
978 88 8499 182 9
Available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish