Each month Slow Food pops up in an increasing number of places and is presented to an a wider range of people thanks to the growth of the movement and the increasing strength of the newer Terra Madre network; launched by the association seven years ago to give a voice to sustainable food producers. In an important moment last month, the “A Thousand Gardens in Africa” project was presented to American First Lady Michelle Obama by Edward Mukiibi, Slow Food Mukumo Convivium leader who first came to Slow Food through the Terra Madre network and coordinates the food communities in his country.
Slow Food and the Terra Madre network are inextricably joined by now. Slow Food has been the driving force that organizes, provides services and communicates for this network. As an international association of members – who join in local chapters called convivia but do not necessarily participate in the Terra Madre network of food communities – it has its own structures and mechanisms. But in essence, the convivia are communities of people connected together around the centrality of food: food communities, to all intents and purposes. Similarly, not everyone who belongs to a Terra Madre food community has a Slow Food membership card: Terra Madre is the network which also includes Slow Food, and that Slow Food is committing to grow, work and see prosper.
While Slow Food is preparing to hold its next International Congress between the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, Terra Madre is expanding further into many national, regional and local initiatives and members are being made more aware of the importance and centrality of the network. Similarly, the Terra Madre communities, if they haven’t yet, are becoming ever more aware of this friendship that links them to the Slow movement, often as card-carrying members of Slow Food.
Our internal diversity remains our greatest strength, and we must always nurture that as without understanding, exchange, comparison and awareness of our identities, diversity loses its powerful creative force. Terra Madre Day 2010 showed how united we are, and how strong. It doesn’t matter what label we have. What matters is knowing who we are and the project we share and that we are supporting together as one big family.
President of Slow Food International