I still get shivers when I think back to the five days I spent in Turin at the end of September this year. I still see a beautiful melting pot of people from all nations, I still hear them talking in languages I’ve never heard before and sharing food from their home countries in the middle of a huge piazza in Turin. The letters on the colorful billboards still ring in my ears: Vote with your fork, Good Clean Fair Food, They are giants, but we are millions, …
Originating from Slow Food in 2004, Terra Madre is a network of farmers, craftsmen, fisherman, and other small scale producers who have joined forces to work towards a more sustainable and social food production as well as food consumption all over the world. They collaborate with universities, communities and scientists to raise more awareness about the origins of our food, the effect of globalization on food culture, water rights and agroecology. Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is a biannual food and gastronomy fair that brings together international producers, cooks, scientists and many people interested in food to exchange ideas and following this year’s slogan Loving the Earth. The website takes a clear stand on what this means: “Taking care of our planet and its environment is an imperative for us all, and we want to put it into practice by rediscovering the pleasure of working together, be it with food producers, educators, chefs, researchers, farmers, food communities or families.”
From a very personal perspective, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto has been a truly emotional time for me that has impacted my way of thinking about many things related to food, culture and consumption. I attended inspiring interviews, marched with more than 7000 people in a parade that promoted good, clean and fair food, listened to Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini holding up his vision for a better world and met lots of great people from all over the world, who joined forces to make this remarkable event happen.
From a global perspective and shortly before the release of Leonardo DiCaprio’s phenomenal documentary “Before the Flood”, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is a very important event in terms of our environment, global warming, human health, animal welfare, fair trade and biodiversity. We have to take these issues seriously, if we want to prevent the downward spiral that is already manifesting itself in many terms of our daily life. We know that a handful of multinationals control the industrial food production, destroy our planet and environment with monocultures, risk many people’s lives, irresponsibly ignore animal welfare and inadvertedly contribute to so many valuable species going extinct.
The interest in the various workshops, discussions and conferences was astonishing! The abundance of topics, ranging from meat consumption and agroecology to indigenous people as well as from sustainability and eco-gastronomy to food waste made it hard for visitors to decide which speech to attend. Given that there were more than 7000 delegates from over 160 countries as well as more than 800 exhibitors and a kaleidoscope of different events, such as taste workshops, dinner dates, cooking schools, educational activities, conferences and Terra Madre forums, it is understandable that the choice was not an easy one to make.
Historical buildings and the mesmerizing scenery of Turin blended perfectly into the good cause and strong impact that Terra Madre had on the visitors. I could hardly take my eyes off the view from the castle in Parco Valentino or decide which building was most intriguing in the middle of Piazza Carignano. Instead of withholding the event to insiders and paying visitors only, the fair was open to the public, which allowed for everyone to visit, learn and become part of Terra Madre – free of charge.
To meet the urgency of this important issue, I will list a few recommendations for actions, that each and every one of us can start implementing today.
- Question where your food, clothes and everything else comes from and go for the option that you know is safer for you, the planet, other human beings and animals
- Buy local produce
- Don’t support multinationals that destroy our planet with monocultures
- Protect biodiversity by buying products that are threatened to go extinct: Rare types of beans, apples, root vegetables and many others
- Eat less meat, but of better quality
- Use less plastic
- Don’t waste food – buy only what you need and try to use up leftovers, even if it’s for a face mask or body scrub
- Be respectful towards animals, plants and our soil
- Don’t kill bees – they ensure all life on earth
- Support small scale farmers, craftsmen and fisherman by buying the different varieties listed in the Slow Food Presidia and Ark of Taste
- Try buying organic whenever you can
- Buy seasonal products
While Gaetano Pascale, President of Slow Food Italy, sounds quite optimistic in his final statement, “The challenge of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016 for Slow Food was political, cultural and social: to assert that good, clean and fair food is a human right, something we must all feel part of, and that means loving the earth! We can proudly say that we’ve succeeded in this challenge.”, it remains unclear what impact Terra Madre will eventually have and what each and every visitor will remember and apply upon their visit to this great event.
Let’s hope that educating ourselves will lead to all of us making better choices in favor of protecting our planet, health and animals. We all have a responsibility toward future generations to inherit a world where our grandchildren can grow up safely in. Start investing right now in a sustainable future by treating the earth respectfully and always bear in mind: There is no planet B.