Health, Nov. 14, 2019, 12:39 p.m.

Slow Food: 30 Years of Projects Around the World

Author: riaan@wecanchange.co.za

The international campaign to celebrate the signing of the Slow Food Manifesto in Paris in December 1989 has been launched: a chance to talk about our many past successes and look forward to the challenges of the future

Thirty years have passed since the weekend in December 1989 when delegates from 15 countries met in Paris to sign the Slow Food Manifesto. This moment formalized the birth of the international Slow Food movement, until then solely Italian. Today the Slow Food flag flies in 160 countries around the world and the movement embraces over a million members, volunteers and activists. 

“We came up with the idea for this campaign because it seemed right to celebrate such an important birthday, but most of all because these 30 years offer us a chance to tell everyone about what we have managed to do, about how much the world of food has changed thanks to Slow Food,” says Carlo Petrini, Slow Food’s president. “And this reflection on the past, which we hope will reach many people, is also a step towards our future. 2020 will be crucial to the story of Slow Food, as well as the opening of a decade during which the entire human community will be called upon to make the major changes necessary to save our species from extinction.”

With the international campaign 30 Years of the Slow Food Manifesto – Our Food, Our Planet, Our Future (https://www.30ym.slowfood.com/en/), from December 1 to 10 the Slow Food network will be celebrating with hundreds of events around the world, open not only to Slow Food members but to all those who have walked alongside the Snail and everyone who wants to join us on the path going forward. “With these initiatives we want to look to the future, not just of Slow Food but of food and the life of the planet itself,” says Edie Mukiibi, a member of Slow Food’s International Executive Committee. “The last Slow Food International Congress, in fall 2017 in Chengdu, China, put at the top of our priorities the fight to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. To guarantee this right we still have a long and tortuous road ahead of us and we can only do it if we are a multitude. A multitude, however, organized into communities, not just single individuals. We need to unite our forces, we need alliances, and that’s why we love to say that Slow Food is a global network of local communities.”

And it is from the local communities that we can hear many stories that exemplify the Snail’s long journey to date and the new projects that are constantly emerging. Manvester Ackson, the coordinator of Slow Food in Malawi, tells us: “As well as contributing to food education for the younger generations, the Gardens in Africa have seen an uptick in school enrollment. The kids have returned, encouraged by the possibility of learning how to grow their own food and having it available for them and their family.” Thanks to the 10,000 Gardens in Africa, 30 community food gardens have been created in Malawi, involving around 10,600 people.

“The first Earth Market in Italy’s Veneto region, created by the Slow Food Garda Veronese Convivium in 2018, involves 50 food artisans who present their local products, bringing the piazza to life with the flavors, traditions and colors of their land,” says Cristina Piazza, who runs the market together with Flavio Marchesini. “To warm up the winter months we’re going to have a Market Osteria, where a local chef will prepare dishes based on products from the market,” she adds, reflecting the fact that the typical Earth Market goes well beyond just selling fruits and vegetables. Most offer educational activities and workshops for adults and children and a chance to learn about local biodiversity as well as a place to buy good, clean and fair food.

Lastly, a story that symbolizes the power of food when it comes to integration: Igor Stojanovic is a Rom cook originally from Serbia who has opened a home restaurant in Italy, offering a concrete example of how food can become a political tool that lowers barriers and brings cultures closer together. Says Igor: “I have to admit that before getting to know Slow Food I didn’t pay much attention to labels, to the origin of food and to its true value. But by participating actively in the Snail’s projects I’ve realized the importance of recognizing the value of our gastronomic roots so that everyone has a chance to get to know and taste good, clean and fair food.”

In these 30 years Slow Food has boarded over 5,000 products at risk of extinction onto the Ark of Taste, contributing to turning the political and media spotlight onto biodiversity. It has created almost 4,000 food gardens in Africa, each one a practical contribution towards improving access to food and the recovery of sustainable agronomical practices and local plant varieties in a continent plagued by social injustice. It has involved hundreds of thousands of children in food and taste education projects, helped to change agricultural and food policies all over the world for the better, constructed a new narrative for food and food production and fought against the deadly mix of financial speculation and unbridled globalization that has transformed the vital and sacred act of nourishment into pure consumption, without respect for our health, the environment, the rights of those who produce our food or the pleasure that should be physiologically linked to the act of feeding ourselves.

Many challenges have been won but there is still much to be done, which is why the 30th anniversary celebrations will be looking to the future as well as the past. With the funds raised during the 30 Years of the Slow Food Manifesto campaign initiatives, Slow Food will be able to finance some of its ambitious program of activities for 2020, which includes boarding 600 new passengers onto the Ark of Taste and creating 30 new Slow Food Presidia, 300 new food gardens in Africa and 15 new Earth Markets. Concludes Edie Mukiibi: “Support our projects and look for the event closest to you. We can’t wait to celebrate our first 30 years together!”

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