Slow Food Nippon, a weeklong program of activities with a focus on sustainable agriculture and the restoration of food biodiversity, began today in Yokohama, bringing together the Slow Food network from across Asia and providing a program of events to represent the region.
During the week, visitors be able discover fresh and authentic flavors from every region in Japan, and enjoy soup and other dishes produced along the Yokohama canal. Slow Food members from across the country will sell goods at a central market, assist with the creation of an organic garden, and participate in cooking classes, a symposium, film festival and more.
The inaugural Asian gathering of the Terra Madre network, a project initiated by Slow Food in 2004, starts the event today. Slow Food President Carlo Petrini is attending and will join participants in a wide range of discussions about Japanese food and agriculture, including topics such as youth and agriculture, protecting Japanese food varieties and breeds, the future of Japanese fishing, and the national Agricultural Land Act.
Producers from other Asian nations are joining this regional event to share knowledge and experience across the region, such as the Organic Rice Producers of Tan Lac food community from Vietnam. These farmers are from a region of traditional rice cultivation, in which most farmers became dependant on pesticides and chemical fertilizers following the Green Revolution.
Quickly realizing the negative consequences, these rice growers started to learn about integrated rice-duck farming – a traditional, organic mixed-farming technique which is starting to regain popularity. In this system, rice and ducks are raised simultaneously on the same land. The ducks effectively control weeds and insects, thus helping eliminate the application of pesticides and herbicides, reducing weed growth by as much as 92-96 percent.
They found that introducing ducks to the rice paddies has improved the soil and the water conditions, and increased their security as they now produce both rice and duck meat and eggs. They have also started to bring back local varieties of rice to protect biodiversity and their food security for the future.