The Fifth International Slow Food Congress commences today in Puebla, Mexico and concludes Sunday, November 11. The meeting brings together more than 600 delegates and observers from 49 nations, representing the association’s 85,000 members across five continents.
This is the first time Slow Food has held a congress outside of Europe. Mexico was a strategic choice that represents, both symbolically and practically, the launch of the international network which has developed as a result of Terra Madre – the world meeting of food producers, held every two years in Turin, concurrently with Salone del Gusto.
An important prologue to the Congress was held Thursday, a seminar entitled “Defense of our Cultural Legacy and Nourishment of People.” The seminar was organized by Puebla’s Latin American University, in collaboration with Slow Food and ‘Alternativas’, an organization that has worked for two decades on rural development towards sustainable and traditional agricultural – encouraging the cultivation of foods particular to indigenous Mexican culture, among them amaranth, a Slow Food Presidia.
Nicola Perullo, a representative of the University of Gastronomic Science in Polenzo and Colorno, was the first speaker. Other notable participants included Mexican anthropologist Luis Alberto Vargas Guadarrama, Raul Hernandez Garciadiego, Director of Alternativas, with a report on the preservation of Mexico’s genetic resources and Ana de Ita Rubio, Director of the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Ceccam), who discussed world food resources.
Carlo Petrini, Slow Food International President, discussed the new frontier of eco-gastronomy – concerned with environmental protection and the creation of a network of food communities and local economies that come together to form a virtuous form of globalization. Petrini urged young students to pay attention to and respect the knowledge of traditional farmers, and to listen to the stories and history of local people to cultivate the cultural legacy that is an integral part of their identity. It is through gastronomy, he argued, that we can fight for the future of all of humanity – a future that encourages environmental protection, social justice and a new food culture for all nations.
Slow Food delegates will discuss these themes in more details over the three days of the Congress, developing new strategies and project goals of the association.
The president of the Municipalidad Henrique Doges has also presented Carlo Petrini with the Cedula Real, in the Puebla City Hall. This is the highest honor of Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza –Puebla’s traditional name – awarded to celebrated citizens or to individuals who made a significant contribution to raising Puebla’s profile around the world.