The center piece of Slow Food Ireland’s current Terra Madre event – a day-long conference of workshops involving more than 400 small farmers, artisan food producers, chefs, students, stakeholders, retailers and the general public – concluded this afternoon with a closing speech by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
Delegates spent the morning in more than forty thematic workshops, discussing their concerns and visions for the future of food on topics ranging from school gardens to food regulation, health and diet, raw milk cheese and GM food production as well as various individual food sectors.
‘Slow Food and Terra Madre, help us focus much more deeply on this little word ‘food’ and on all the values surrounding it,’ said President McAleese. ‘Caring for one and other, for our planet, our rural way of life, and caring deeply and intelligently about what we eat’.
‘We must work as you are all doing, and as Slow Food is doing around the world, to build a society of individuals passionate about food,’ continued President McAleese. ‘We must encourage those who are central to its production and the next generation of farmers.’
Proposals formulated during the public workshops were presented to Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland Food Ministers – Trevor Sargent TD and Michelle Gildernew MP MLA –in the afternoon session.
‘On this historical day, great work has been done by the small-scale farmers, fishers, artisan producers chefs, students and citizens who have come here to reaffirm the need for a new approach to agriculture,’ said Carlo Petrini, Slow Food International President. ‘We leave here today with increased strength, having put forward our requests for a better agriculture to the Irish politicians’.
Terra Madre Ireland is a four-day festival celebrating Ireland’s food culture and producers, organized by the national Slow Food association. The event continues throughout the weekend, with festivities kicking-off tonight with a Slow Food Feast, a nine-course meal for several hundred guests showcasing the best of Ireland’s produce from the southeast. Artisan food tours and picnics will be held in six of the nearby counties on Saturday morning, and a special farmers’ market will be held on Sunday.
Further information on Terra Madre Ireland is available at www.terramadreireland.com