Sunday, October 31, 2010

Terra Madre - Day 3 - Oct. 23, 2010

Day 3 – 10/23
 The USA Regional Meeting convened this morning to a standing room only crowd of about 700 participants. The meeting was opened by Alice Waters who gave her speech while holding a head of celery that someone had given her. She expressed her hopes for a U.S. Terra Madre to be held in Washington, D.C. in the near future. She then passed the floor to Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA. It was only six years ago that Josh attended the first Terra Madre as a farmer. Quite a rise in such a short time. His goals included having more school gardens than McDonald franchises; more good food available to all regardless of class, race or demographic. He borrowed from Gandhi and stated that when you start to create a revolution, people first ignore you, then mock you, then fight against you, and finally they lose. We are well into the second phase of this revolution. Raj Patel, an award-winning writer, activist and academic, who recently became a U.S. citizen, encouraged corporate accountability and mentioned the “ Retire Ronald” campaign, because children cannot differentiate between ads and lies. The meeting continued with stories from chapter leaders, activists and farmers from across the nation. Stories included the increased role of women in the social change in food policy, a surge of small-scale growers and a transition to farmers who are not from agricultural backgrounds, the appearance of more local, sustainable food being served in schools and hospitals, and the increased activity of youth throughout the world and in the U.S. Sam Levin, who started Project Sprout at age 15 and spoke at the 2008 Terra Madre, shared a poignant story about his frustration with the slow progression of his project and the movement in general, to which Carlo Petrini reminded him to remember the SF mascot. Snails move slow, after all, but work no less hard than a sprinting cheetah, and will eventually reach their goal. He reminded us that he would like to see his generation be the one who reunites mankind with the earth. Josh took the stage again and directed all to introduce themselves to someone they didn’t know and spend 5 minutes telling each other what they did, why they were here and what they would take back home from the conference. For the next 5-10 minutes the room was alive with hundreds of dialogues, uniting everyone there and affirming the role we are playing in the food movement that is gaining in numbers and importance. Finally, Carlo Petrini rose to close the meeting with his ever-inspirational words. He expressed his affection for all the leaders in the room and said that all the other continents of the world were simultaneously going in similar directions as the United States at their own regional meetings. He referenced the International SF Congress to be held in our country and asked us to show the politicians that we exist, and that the world would listen. He pleaded with us to look to Africa and to help its inhabitants in any way that we could. With knowledge, a little intelligence, and a lot of taste, we can go a long way. The transformation is stronger than the revolution, and even if we do not all live to see it, the transformation will happen.
After an exhilarating, extremely full, and inspirational morning I was left with an incredible appetite. Eating food prepared by street vendors on the side of the road is common practice for millions of people around the world. Many Italian regions also have their own street food specialties that bring together tradition, freshness and seasonality. I didn’t have far to go to sample cucina di strada (street food) from all over Italy and other parts of the world. I lunched on bombette from Puglia, Recco focaccia from Liguria, piadini from Romagna, minestrone di faro from Tuscany, olive ascolane from Le
Marche, among others.
Instead a needed walk followed by a nap, I attended the US chapter leader meeting, followed by a meeting with students and advisors for SFOC (slow food on campus) members. Both were very informative, inspirational, and confirmed that SFOC chapters from around the world share many things, including some of the same frustrations.
After another very long, yet incredibly full day, I felt like an over-saturated sponge. On my way back to the bus stop to take me back to my hotel, I stopped at Eataly
What a sensory experience. Just recently, Eataly, New York has opened in Manhattan. I was happy to be experiencing the Eataly that started it all.

1 comment:

  1. Mashed cauliflower? I never would have guessed, great suggestion!


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