Saturday, November 6, 2010

Terra Madre Update

One of the things that Slow Food emphasized to the Terra Madre 2010 delegates was that it is very important bring back the "message" of Terra Madre to our local counterparts in order to build capacity for the movement in our local communities.

I am quite new to Slow Food as an organization. The movement has been around since the 1970's and seems to have a huge following all across Europe, considerable political clout and and some serious government support which enables it to pull off the huge event that is Terra Madre. However, my exposure to the organization is limited to the little bit of volunteering that I have done for events that the Vancouver chapter puts on. I found myself thinking quite a bit during the event and workshops about this "message" we were supposed to be bringing back and proliferating amongst our local communities. After 3 days of intensive workshop sessions, conversations with other farmers/foodies and serious amounts of delicious food samplings it turns out that the "message" of Terra Madre isn't so simple that I can type it into a sentence, or a paragraph, or perhaps even an essay. Even Slow Food themselves have written pages and pages of documentation in order to explain the ideas and opinions of the organization.

From what I gather the "message" of Terra Madre is one of support for a number of important factors surrounding food and agricultural governance, sustainable resource management and ecological agriculture, socially acceptable food and agricultural systems, recognition and support for traditional ecological knowledge and traditional/historical foods. Pretty all encompassing eh? For me, it is still a little unclear how we go about achieving steps towards these reforms in our food system.

If I had to narrow down MY one take home message from the whole event it would be that gatherings of farmers which allow us to converse, share and exchange ideas are possibly the single most important means of social collaboration that we will need to keep us motivated. It is pretty amazing that we had to travel half way around the world to be able to find a time and space that allowed us farmers to openly share our experiences...makes me think that we should try to replicate this type of knowledge exchange more close to home on a more frequent basis (apparently more easier said than done).

Terra Madre day is being held on December 10th at the Italian Cultural Center. The delegates from 2010 will be in attendance and we hope to share what we learned from the whole experience with others in the local food community. Perhaps I will have some more concrete thoughts flushed out by that this point I am still recovering from a whirlwind trip and subsequent scramble to catch up at school. Please do consider joining us if you would like to enjoy some delicious food and speak to some folks involved with food and farming.

With that I will leave you with some photos from the Salone del Gusto (overwhelmingly large room of deliciousness that was attached to the actual conference) and a couple of the markets in Venice.


  1. Great summary of a huge movement that could be made more "real" by people who care like all of you joining with others in the Fraser Valley and gaining knowledge and motivation to expand your skills for the future. Have a great time at the event in Vancouver. I hope other farmers will benefit from your global perspective.

  2. Hi there, I just followed the link at I was supposed to go to the salone del gusto in Turin a month ago, but didn't make it! I hope to go next year.