My Trip to Terra Madre 2010

More than 6,400 Farmers, Cooks, Food Preservers, Food Activists and Educators were represented from 161 different countries for an incredible Slow Food experience. So how do we all communicate with each other? Just like it is done at the UN with headphones dialed to a language and a translator assigned in translating from spoken languages of those presenting to various languages of those attending (I am thankful that most seminars had a translator assigned to English).  There could be any number of spoken languages during a seminar because those presenting are from all over the world: French, Italian, Moroccan, Algerian, English, etc) KUDOS to the translators who translated all the languages into English for me!
It was an astonishing logistical organizing feat to have all the attendees housed and transported from the various motels/farms to the conference each day. SO THANKS TO THE TERRA MADRE ORGNANIZERS for doing a FANASTAIC JOB.
Terra Madre Opening Ceremony with flags being carried in by representing countries.
Terra Madre Opening Ceremony with flags being carried in by representing countries.
I went to Terra Madre with the question, “How do farmers from around the world earn a living from growing food?” I believe for the Slow Food Movement to be sustainable we will need more young people to choose farming as a career. I learned that most farmers from around the world are struggling to support families off their farming income. Our country is not alone in this issue.
– In Kenya, where folks spend a high percent of their budget on food, the farmer growing perishable produce will bring their harvest to market only to have customers talking them down in prices. The farmer can’t afford to dump the food so they sell it for less causing them to not earn a decent living.
– Today in Norway the average amount budgeted for food annually is 10%. That figure was 25% in 1970.  I think that I could make a living off the farm if I could charge 15% more for my food. These statistics are similar in many of the EU nations and are also similar to what is happening in the US.
– Such suggestions made from the various seminars I attended is if society were to place an environmental impact rating on our food, taxing food that is harsher on the environment, then perhaps my food would compete with that grown/raised in California. The idea is that all food should be “CLEAN” which is food produced with as little negative impact on the environment as possible and free of pesticides for consumption. It is also suggested that placing a “value” on preserving culture so those foods that have been grown/preserved for centuries in villages around the be given a higher priority.  This would help meet Slow Foods goal for “FAIR” and “GOOD” Food.
– Another suggestion is that we not measure our growth by the GDP because it does not consider happiness, quality of life or a sustainable lifestyle. (Sustainability is not encouraging folks to consume unlimited materialistic goods but to live as low impact life on the earth as is possible.)
Kenyan Farmer Harvesting
Kenyan Farmer Harvesting

Young people don’t want to farm nor do many of them have the resources. Why should they want a quality of life with hard work and such a low monetary reward for doing so? I know that farm subsidies are not good in creating a level playing field for all farmers but I think that we need to help young people purchase land or perhaps the “people” need to own the land and let farmers lease the land. Land for Food Production should be owned by all the people not individuals or corporations.  I realize this is an idealistic point of view for a culture like the US but one worth considering.
A small farm with haygrove tunnels in the Bussolino valley of Italy where Peatro lives and keeps his hives. Next time in Italy I would like to visit this farm!
A small farm with haygrove tunnels in the Bussolino valley of Italy where Peatro lives and keeps his hives. Next time in Italy I would like to visit this farm!
After talking with farmers from around the world I am not sure how to solve the problem of farmers earning a decent wage from growing food, but folks from villages all around the world like Carl and myself, continue farming because of our passion for preserving biodiversity in our food system and producing GOOD and CLEAN food. We also do it out of security for ourselves in knowing that we will have food on the table regardless of what happens to us financially!
Vandana Shiva, who has spoken out against GMO crops, in her closing speech said that: “Indigenous People Hold the Earth Sacred… And that is a problem for exploitation.“ Her speech gives me hope for our future because while she was speaking I was surrounded with thousands of people all with the same belief. Folks attending will all take these beliefs back to our villages, plant a seed, and spread the good.
Surrounded by thousands of people with the goal in keeping and maintaining biodiversity, not to mention a brief conservation with Dave Bauer, I have begun rethinking our farms mission. When we first established our farm, one aspect of our mission was specializing in heirloom and open pollinated varieties. We have changed our varieties over the years to those better yielding in our mountains. For a small farm such as ours it does come down to economics and trying to find the highest yielding crops possible for our small mountain farm. My mission is to work with the other small farms in my area to preserve varieties and species. If all our small farms in Western NC choose one or two varieties then we are taking steps in preserving biodiversity in the mountains all the while continuing to farm trying to earn enough to continue farming. Here are some of the things I want our farm to consider: (a) raising heritage pigs (b) raising a crop of heritage chickens for meat. We think they would be smaller so more affordable to the customers. (c) Choosing a few heirloom varieties of vegetables that can be grown and figuring out how they won’t cross pollinate with those we are growing for production. These might include corn (maize), tomatoes, winter squash, a dry bean and green beans.
Vandana Shiva who is an idol of mine and a great environmentalist, a food activist, proponent of social justice!
Vandana Shiva who is an idol of mine and a great environmentalist, a food activist, proponent of social justice!
This is a picture of curred ham, sausage, cheese stored at room temperatures.  The meat is curred using centuray old traditions preserving the meat with incredible flavor.  These traditions are still alive in Italy but have been lost in the United States.
This is a picture of curred ham, sausage, cheese stored at room temperatures. The meat is curred using centuray old traditions preserving the meat with incredible flavor. These traditions are still alive in Italy but have been lost in the United States.
After being at Salone del Gusto, the largest food fair in the world which coincides with Terra Madre but in a diferent building, I realize it just isn’t all about preserving species/varieties but there is so much more to it in preserving traditions. Salami and meats cured with century old techniques is a means for food preservation while maintaining flavor. The American culture is so far removed from preserving food traditions. Both curing and fermentation have allowed our culture to preserve food for centuries bridging the gap between spring/summer/fall and winter in preventing starvation and assuring our specie survives. My guess is that traditioinal techniques in food preservation used less energy because refrigerators and freezers were not required nearly as much when food was stored at room temperatures for a portion of the year. I noticed that many stores in Italy had a fabulous selection of meat and cheese stored at room temperatures. Any guesses of the energy savings if we all didn’t need to keep our meat or cheese cooled/frozen?

Another quote from Vandana Shiva…. “Gandhi is the other person. I believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy — not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you. Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred. To me, those are the real freedoms on the basis of which good human societies are based.”
The resulting work of Terra Madre 2010 was a document that could be adopted by nations around the world with the goal of GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR food.
Oi-Johan Sikku, a Sami from the Sápmi region of northern Europe, at the opening ceremony said, “We want to build a future where traditional knowledge can tie together the past and the times to come,” he said.
Gorgeous cheese using century old techniques for creating cheese that can be stored at room temperatures with incredible flavor!
Gorgeous cheese using century old techniques for creating cheese that can be stored at room temperatures with incredible flavor!
“All indigenous people have similarities,” continued Sikku. “We know we cannot waste the environment on which we live. We are only borrowing anything we take from the earth. We know how to keep the earth clean. Together we can advise and instruct the world on how to take care of nature. Together we have the opportunity and strength to influence the world’s leaders. We no longer have time to wait. Mother Earth needs our collective wisdom and power to make a change.”
Another quote, from Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, an Aborigine from Australia, “We do not own the land but the land owns us.”. She emphasized that we need to preserve our natural resources for years to come.”
The goal of Slow Food in Food Soveriengty is to achieve world peace which can be done much easier if indiginous people from all over the world have access to food and aren’t hungry. This must be done by re-creating the local food systems in villages throughout the world.
I am hoping that Slow Food Asheville can adopt a village every couple years. Perhaps we meet someone at Terra Madre who needs financial/resource support for getting a farming/food system working in their village. I think a small sustainable food system can be set up relatively cheaply with minimal resources: irrigation, water encatchment systems, tillersl, etc. I think that perhaps we can have a “Farmer Mentor” from Asheville area to assist with infrastructure solutions all the while working with the person from a village who is familiar with their own climate and what food crops are adapted to their area.
THE BELOW ARTICLE IS written by Slow Food, A UNITED VOICE, Italy 28 Oct 10, Closing Terra Madre
The fourth Terra Madre gathering of food communities came to a close on Sunday with more than 6,000 participants filling a stadium in Turin to hear a panel of distinguished speakers present the sustainability and food policies drafted during the preceding four days of meetings.
Small-scale farmers, fishers, producers, cooks and youth gathered to discuss eight key policy directions for a sustainable food future, led by eight leading thinkers from around the world: Marcello Buiatti, professor of genetics at the University of Florence (biodiversity and ecosystems); Serge Latouche, professor emeritus of economic science at the University of Paris-Sud (social systems and transformation); author and journalist Raj Patel (goods, exchanges and shared resources); co-founder of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment, Daniele Giovannucci (laws, rights and policies); Angelo Consoli, European director of the Foundation on Economic Trends (energy and systemic production); scientist and eco-activist Vandana Shiva, (traditional knowledge, gender and immaterial values); economist and environmentalist Manfred Max-Neef (sustainable education); and Slow Food’s founder and president, Carlo Petrini (pleasure and well-being).
Through these policies, the global Terra Madre network will clearly articulate its shared vision and objectives. The draft policies where drawn up four months ago at the University of Gastronomic Sciences through the collection of suggestions from online forums and other universities around the world, and further contributions were made during the workshops last weekend during the international Terra Madre meeting. The final polices will be presented on Terra Madre Day this December 10, and sent to governments, food policy makers and organizations around the world.
Each policy was presented at the closing ceremony in a round table discussion. Marcello Buiatti spoke first, affirming the value of diversity and change. Responding to a previous protest by animal-rights activists, he said: “Human rights and animal rights go together. We eat plants and animals because we humans are omnivorous. But we must live in harmony with them. Biodiversity is made of living beings, which change constantly, while industry makes cars, which can’t change with the environment. Industry works with dead things. Big multinationals want to control us with this absurd system in which life is money. They are killing the land and killing living beings and making them into machines. They want one type of machine in the whole world. We must change the economy and we must use our cultural diversity to defend ourselves. We must be proud of our diversity.”
Next came Serge Latouche, one of the founders of the “degrowth” movement. “We must de-colonialize our imagery and remove from our minds the myths about modernity and productivism and consumption, based on the religion of growth. We cannot exploit nature endlessly, with no limits. Even a child would understand this is impossible. Techno-science pretends to create an artificial world in place of the real world it is destroying every day.” He described the current depletion of natural resources and fossil fuels as “total nonsense,” saying: “We have to reinvent common goods like water, soil and air, and focus on what is produced locally, in families and villages. We have to find a healthy relationship with nature and food. We must nourish ourselves with nature and let nature nourish itself from us.”
Inspiration on how to preserve nature and share resources can be drawn from indigenous people , said Raj Patel. Citing the work of the Via Campesina movement towards creating food sovereignty, he said that we need democracy and open conversation within our food system. He described the transformative power of food in political movements and the importance of pleasure in recruiting people: “With the leadership of indigenous people and the rocket fuel of pleasure, together we can reach the stars.”
“Many countries have the right to food enshrined in their constitution,” said Daniele Giovannucci, “but very few have laws to guarantee it. The right to food in the same as the right to life.” Hunger has nothing to do with the amount of food we produce, he pointed out. Instead, it comes from a lack of access to the resources necessary to grow food and to markets. “Women, the indigenous and the poor suffer the most from lack of access,” he said. He went on to talk about the importance of “tangible patrimony,” our common heritage of biodiversity and culture, which needs to be protected by laws, humanistic policies and public and private investment. “The basis of all this,” he said, “is education. We have to deepen our knowledge.”
Lack of access is also a problem within our current energy system, explained Angelo Consoli. Our current energy model based on fossil fuels and nuclear power is neither good, clean nor fair, he said, echoing Slow Food’s principles for food quality. “It’s not good because it creates entropy. There is no pleasure in its fumes and nuclear waste. Energy should be integrated with ecosystems. I don’t need to tell you why coal and oil are not clean, just look at what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. And it’s not fair. We have a very unequal society in which half of the world’s population have little or no access to electricity. The 350 richest people in the world make as much as the poorest 3 billion.” He said this inequality was created by the current capital-intensive, profit-focused, monopolistic energy model. “The energy monopolists only see the profit side, but there is also a spiritual side to energy.” Energy is a human right, like water, food and freedom. “Everyone should have their fair share. The sun gives us more than enough energy.” If only the money spent on researching fossil fuels and nuclear power had been invested in solar technology, we would have affordable solar panels, he said. “We have to fight for energy sovereignty and energy biodiversity,” he said, calling for the creation of energy communities. “We must harness the sun and distribute local energy. Food and energy must be decentralized for humans to remain on the earth.”
“A living, nurturing mother has been transformed into dead matter,” said Vandana Shiva, decrying the mechanistic, violent way of thinking that lies behind industrial agriculture. She contrasted this with the world view of indigenous cultures, who hold the earth as sacred. She went on to condemn seed patents and biopiracy: “If you patent life, you’re claiming you created life, claiming it’s a product of your mind.” But corporations do not have minds, she said, they are just “fictions with a legal personality.” She said that by building movements, creating knowledge sovereignty and nurturing the biodiversity of knowledge systems, we can fight this already-collapsing industrial world view.
“We have reached a point where we know a lot but understand very little,” began Manfred Max-Neef. For example, you could study everything there is to know about love, anthropologically, socially, biochemically, but until you fall in love you’ll never understand it. He called for the world to move away from the fragmented accumulation of knowledge and towards a greater capacity for understanding. Since the age of seven, he said, he had always wondered what made humans different from animals. Was it a soul, intelligence or humor? He dismissed all of these, and said that eventually his father gave him the answer: stupidity. “There are no stupid elephants, no stupid dogs,” he said, while no human being is free from stupidity, and the more power they have, the more stupid they become. “They have all the knowledge of what should not be done, and they do it.” He then lauded the power of Terra Madre to fight this stupidity, the power of hundreds of thousands of groups each working in their own small way. “We see and feel disease but we don’t see the immune system,” he said. “All the people here are the immune system of the planet. We are one united system and the only possibility for saving the planet.”
Finally Carlo Petrini took to the podium to deliver the closing speech of Terra Madre 2010. “This has been a marvelous edition, extraordinarily beautiful,” he said. He said the seeds sown six years ago were bearing fruit. “It has been hard and difficult because the soil was not well prepared, it was arid and polluted. Arid like the dominant way of thinking, polluted by consumerist, financial thought. Sowing seed in that ground was wasted time because it was so unfertile. But slowly the land has been improved and reclaimed, and now plants are growing in every corner of the world.”
“Terra Madre is immensely larger than the people gathered in this hall,” he said. “It gets no respect from politicians, no attention from the media or the world of finance, but this humanity is more widespread than ever before. Diffusion is our strength.”
He said that during these days of Terra Madre, he had the impression the financial crisis didn’t exist. “We work every day concentrating not on the crisis, but on the earth, and that gives us enormous strength,” he said. Those who say that more consumption is the way to get out of the crisis, that consumption makes us happy, are “out of this world.” Instead, we need to fight for everyone to “have the right to the good and the beautiful,” he said.
Returning to Max-Neef’s metaphor, he told the delegates that they were the real antibodies who would cure this sick world. Terra Madre is not just a biannual gathering, but continues to grow daily in every corner of the world, through the everyday good practices and strength, determination, pride and patience of the network’s members. “Terra Madre Day will be celebrated by a million, by two million people around the world, physically united by this celebration of Mother Earth.”

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