The naming of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming offers many potential opportunities for the collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Slow Food, made official by the memorandum of agreement signed in May this year by José Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the FAO, and Carlo Petrini, the president of Slow Food.
Carlo Petrini recently participated in the conference Family farming: a dialogue towards more sustainable and resilient farming in Europe and in the world, organized in Brussels by the European Commission and the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. The FAO’s director-general was also one of its key speakers, declaring that family farming should be seen as an opportunity to be promoted, not a marginal element, and that we need to shift from the paradigm based on the fast-food model, with commercial production on a huge scale, to the new Slow Food paradigm, based on local distribution and traditional foods. (Video recording of the conference here)
The solution to the serious food problems affecting our planet lies with the local communities and family food production. Slow Food, which created the Terra Madre network and works to facilitate small-scale producers’ access to the market, has been saying it for years, and so has the FAO.
One initial fruit of the collaboration has been the production of a book, entitled Quinoa in the Kitchen, during the last month of the International Year of Quinoa.
“Quinoa is part of the effort to recover lost foods and to promote traditional and forgotten crops,” said Graziano da Silvia. “It is also part of the idea that food is not only a commodity. It is a lot more than that. It is also culture, it is also taste, it is also a lot of things that are closely related to our history. During 2014, the FAO and Slow Food will work to recover the wealth of local recipes preserved by communities, and especially by the mothers who feed their families local food.”
Carlo Petrini stated that both organizations share a vision “of a sustainable world free from hunger that safeguards biodiversity for future generations. Slow Food will make a great contribution to family farming. In 2014, we will continue with renewed energy our work to support the Terra Madre food communities, organizing local markets and school and community food gardens, encouraging small-scale producers’ access to the market and cataloguing the food biodiversity at risk of extinction. At the center of the process is gastronomy and the idea that this multidisciplinary science, which includes everything, from agriculture to history, from economics to anthropology, from botany to the culinary arts, can be a liberating force for communities suffering from malnutrition.”