During my time in Turin, I was fortunate enough to attend Terra Madre Salone de Gusto, a one-week conference conceived from the Slow Food Movement. The Slow Food movement offers itself as an alternative to the fast-food, fast-life lifestyle. It places emphasis on preserving regional and traditional cuisines as well as the local food ecosystem and economics.
This year Terra Madre’s them is “loving the earth.” The conference is built upon the concept of “eating as an agricultural act and producing as a gastronomic art.” This theme was emphasized throughout the many events, speakers, and global food communities from five continents. Some of my favorite events I’ve attended include a bread lab, where students from a local gastronomic university in Turin described the history and gastronomy of bread, and a night spent red wine tasting. Another special event that impacted my thought process and helped to develop my own relationship with food was a conference called “They are Giants, but We are Millions” with Marion Nestle, a university professor, and Jose Bove, a French European Parliament member, which covered the importance of the awareness and understanding of the impact of the collective through political food activism.
As Alice Waters puts it, “We eat our values.” That statement is powerful. There is a strong irony presented in the current situation and dilemma. The majority of access to the seed market is controlled by corporations such as Monsanto, and supermarkets form as another part of the value chain as access to diverse food is limited by supermarkets controlling the access to consumers. Food is not a commodity and should not be treated as such. Food impacts local economies, our personal health, and the sustainability of the future and planet earth.
A concept of agroecology focuses on placing the control of seeds, the biodiversity, lands and territories, knowledge and culture into the hands of the people who feed the world. Local food economies with small production and regional food systems provide a sustainable method. Industrial agriculture’s approach with “one size fits all” methodology does not apply with something as complex as the foods that we eat and consume into our bodies.
What are some steps we can all take to support the local food economy?
- Support local and small-scale producers aka (Check out your local farmer’s market)
- Develop a closer relationship to your food
- Create a closer relationship between farmer and consumer
- As Nestle puts it, “vote with your vote, vote with your fork.”
- We need to be politically active and view ourselves not as consumers but rather “citizen eaters.”