Posted on Fri, October 19, 2012 by Slow Food USA
0 Comments | Categories:
Slow Food seeks to help us connect to the story behind our food –its cultural and historical context, the politics of its production, and the diversity of our ecosystems and communities. As 2000 delegates from 130 countries prepare to attend Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre and the International Congress in Torino, Italy from October 25th to October 29th, we thought we’d check in with some of our delegates to hear what’s on their minds. The delegates we interviewed, like so many others who will be at the global gathering, are the everyday food movement leaders who are “feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way”, this year’s theme for Terra Madre.
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Slow Food Connection:Mid-Atlantic Regional Governor, farmer (Ark of Taste)
Hometown: Savannah, GA
Slow Food Connection:Slow Food Savannah Board of Directors
Lauren Lin Howe
Hometown: Easthampton, MA
Slow Food Connection:Co-Founder and Co-Leader of Slow Food Hamilton College
Hometown: San Francisco, but has resided in Oakland, CA for 8 years
Slow Food Connection:My connection to Slow Food is in the work that I do and my colleagues. I work for Oakland Food Policy Council where we work to establish an equitable and sustainable food system. Personally I believe one of the most powerful ways to affect food choice is to awaken, explore and practice one’s food heritage. I appreciate the message of Slow Food yet also see an opportunity to bridge the dialogue of food injustice to the message of sustainability.
Age: I am 63 years old but I represent 2 million years of human evolution, 4.5 billion years of Earth evolution and 14 billion years of Universe evolution…so I am as old as dirt!
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Slow Food Connection:I have been a member of Slow Food Bluegrass since 2008, a Terra Madre delegate in 2008 and 2010, delegate to the International Congress in 2012, supported hosting the Slow Food USA National Congress in Louisville, KY this past April, and speak about Slow Food in some 40 talks each year.
Vince Vang Lee Xiong
Hometown: Plymouth, MN
Slow Food Connection: Minnesota Food Association (a friend of Slow Food Twin Cities), farmer
Hometown: East Coast of the United States (NJ, NC, and VA)
Slow Food Connection:SAAFON, SoGreen Network, Slow Food Atlanta, and I want to start a campus Slow Food chapter at Spelman College
Esperanza: I imagine it is going to be very busy, that there will be an extensive international network and education on food-related work going on around the world, and abundant information on the local food of the Piedmonte region. One thing I hope to find there is how people are creating the narratives around food.
Greg: Reconnecting with friends I have made in previous trips, meeting and connecting with new friends - eating! Delicious food, wine and world delights. But most of all experiencing the oneness - the unity that I feel when African and Asian farmers are telling me about corporate invasion, the threat of GMOs and the callous destruction of local water reserves which is driving small local sustainable farmers to the brink. It is amazing. How farmers around the world are up against the same issues and are challenged by overwhelming odds - but are finding consumers to be their biggest allies as they struggle to survive and provide great food for their villages and neighbors. To reinforce the understanding that we are all in this together is the greatest reward of the conference.
Lauren: I imagine that it is going to be overwhelming in the best way possible! That is, I expect massive crowds of diverse people from all over the world conversing and exchanging both ideas and food items. I anticipate that it will be gloriously stimulating to all the senses, not just taste! I’m looking forward to the sight of artistic food displays, the aroma of ethnic dishes, and the sound of countless languages.
Cynthia: I am really hoping to witness a strong participation of people of color from Slow Food USA. The energy is good that the representation will be much higher than the Slow Food 2010. Which is great! I think it is important that the “fair” piece is evident and there is evidence that a sincere effort was made to be inclusive.
Vince: I imagine there will be a lot of people in traditional clothing. I might try to bring some but the silver would be too much. Maybe I will bring the vest. From what I can tell it will be an eventful time there. I can only wonder if I will have any time to visit the town.
Frances: I am really excited about attending the Terra Madre Conference and Salone de Gusto in Turin Italy as a delegate with Slow Food Atlanta and SAAFON. I have heard that it will be an amazing experience and allow me to network with farmers, artisans, concerned citizens, activists and foodies from all over the world. Some have dubbed it the “United Nations of Food,” so I imagine that it will be a conference highlighting the cultural food diversity of the world. I imagine that it will be a welcoming atmosphere where people can learn from each other and collectively devise solutions for the world’s emerging food crisis as well as promote food justice. I imagine that it will be life-changing due to exposure to various foodways, preparatory techniques and traditional ecological knowledge, as well as initiatives to protect such knowledge for generations to come. It should be a positive and truly educational experience.
Jim: I have had the honor and responsibility to serve as a USA delegate to Terra Madre in 2008, in 2010 and now in 2012 as a delegate to the International Congress. My, my, what a blessing! In 2008 as a newby I was mesmerized by the shear size of the crowd and number of workshops at Terra Madre and did not quite realize until late in the week that the Salone was just next door. But I received so many blessings from meeting so many kindred spirits from all around the world. In 2010 I knew just what to do but also tried to be very supportive of the other US delegates attending for the 1st time.
This year I know that I will experience a similar resonance of love, sharing, excitement, concern and great food! I am once again expecting that the new delegates will be mesmerized as I was. And I will have the divine blessing to be of support to the members of the USA delegation by providing information, experience and direction that will enable folks to enhance their experience at Terra Madre. With the greater diversity in this 2012 delegation I am expecting that the experience within the US delegation to be enhanced with a heightened level of warmth with hugs, more focused conversations on the intersection of social justice and a sustainable food system, and overall a magnified inspiring experience that comes with diversity.
As a 1st time International Congress delegate I am expecting the unexpected… I anticipate the unexpected yet delicious full course menu that will come from the Congress. So this discovery of new experiences at the Congress, coupled with the additional duties of helping create the Slow Food platform for the next 5 years fills me with excitement and inspires the expectation of leaving Italy with additional responsibilities that will serve to guide my Slow Food work back in the USA.
Cynthia: I think Terra Madre is a place to meet people from across the globe to discuss everything from global warming to seed saving. I look forward to seeing some friends I made in 2010 that I understand are returning. What I get out of this experience is knowledge, and information, and a global network of people that understand the challenges of providing good food.
Vince: Meeting all the different farmers and hearing of their different struggles and solutions. The full experience is what I hope to receive. I believe it is through experience with our own eyes and heart that we can truly grow and change for the better.
Frances: I am most looking forward to learning about food issues I never knew existed. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge base of food issues so I can share that knowledge with Slow Food Atlanta and my local community. I am looking forward to all the unfamiliar tastes, sounds, smells and visual images that will surely characterize such an experience. I am looking forward to networking with like-minded individuals concerned about food from many different backgrounds. I hope to become a more informed food scholar-activist by attending Terra Madre, as well as use the knowledge gained in transformative ways to truly make a difference as well as hopefully start a Slow Food chapter on my college campus. I want to use this experience to teach others about food issues in the United States, develop international bonds of friendship, and learn more about the importance of grassroots organizing. I hope to gain confidence in my decision to ultimately dedicate my life to the scholarly study of food from various geographical, sociological and anthropological lens. I hope to eat well too!
Jim: Forgive me but I try real hard NOT to think in terms of “most” or “best” anymore cause it seems too linear or Newtonian. But I am looking forward most to being fully present in, engaged with and appreciative of the wondrous and enchanting Terra Madre/Salone Experience. I want ALL my senses to be fully alert and fully open to tasting the delicious food and appetizing conversations, to sniffing the aromatic and rich diversity of the people, to seeing the vibrant colors of dress and presidia products, to hearing the lyrical sounds of world music and languages, and feeling the love and absolute determination for food that is good, clean and fair! I know with this cyclical giving and receiving, I will receive once again a full array of: 1) oceans of inspiration from speakers and workshop leaders, 2) flowers of re-affirmations of our work, 3) increased spider webs of friends and kindred spirits, 4) peacock-like examples of how to think and act like a snail and 5) flames of motivations to seed, grow and harvest the local good food revolution. However I must confess that I am especially looking forward to strolling through the Salone and sampling ALL the delicious food and delectable conversations with the people from around the world. But of course I am never able to taste all the food because there is just so very much. But the sensory experience of being with all these people with kindred spirit and great foods from all around this beautiful Earth…this Terra Madre… is so memorable and inspires me for years!
Esperanza: Being an International Congress Delegate means I am representing the culture, thinking, work and practices of the Bay Area, more specifically Oakland, CA. It also means I will have the opportunity to meet others from around the world who will be resenting their regions in the same manner.
Greg: I am proud to be a delegate to “the congress”. That means business. My voice is important to defining the future of Slow Food around the world. I hope I am able to effectively convey the message that sustainable farmers in America are up against the same challenges as rural farmers around the world. And that building stronger food communities will only work when we take responsibility ourselves and stop leaving our human fuel system - our food system – in the hands of the windbags in power, who would soon enough keep feeding us sugar coated garbage. The time is now to demand good clean and fair for all - and to remove from power those who have otherwise.
Lauren: I am really looking forward to being around thousands of other people who share a common vision for the future of food and farming. I hope to get a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment at Terra Madre, as well as practical and tangible tools I can bring home and use to create effective change in my own community.
Greg: It means that I am an elder, an experienced mentor for the newbies - even the 60 year old first timers. Helping them is my responsibility. The conference is overwhelming. Especially with Salone and Terra Madre both! So much info - so many classes and workshops and tastings. I hope to give to others what I’ve seen and learned. Like the delicious roasted chestnuts outside of Eataly.
Jim: Returning as a delegate to Terra Madre for the 3rd time has become for me like the biennial pilgrimage to our Mecca! It is a ”return to the source” of this magnificent movement in northern Italy which then allows us all to “sit” at the table with the old master himself, Carlo Petrini. While this ”return to the source” means being at the epicenter…the vortex… of this now global Slow Food movement, returning as a delegate also means: 1) at home working daily to create increased awareness of Slow Food in my community, 2) during Terra Madre providing support and being of service to the new Terra Madre delegates so they can maximize their experience, 3) as a delegate to the Congress executing my responsibilities as a delegate with intentional enthusiastic participation while wearing my Jedi warrior suit, 4) getting lots of hugs and kisses from old and new friends, 5) being playful, loving and inspiring to others so I can receive the same from others. Also being selected again as a delegate is an affirmation that the work we are doing is respected and appreciated. So I return as delegate with still a profound thirst and hunger for connections, inspiration, information, and of course the pleasures of good food so I can return to my community, share the experience widely and continue to fertilize the good food revolution!
Esperanza: In a broad sense, I think being a Terra Madre delegate means that I support, practice and wish to share work that both links food heritage to sustainable food practices.
Cynthia: I am really excited about the International Congress meetings. I have always wondered how the agenda for Slow Food is set. What goes on behind the scenes. I am looking forward to meeting more of the leaders in Slow Food International and witnessing how the priorities for the organization are set forth. Looking forward to it.
Lauren: Being an International Congress delegate is a great honor and privilege. I could not be more grateful and excited to represent both my hometown and my home institution of Hamilton College. Holding voting power at this historic event is incredible. I am eager to serve as a liaison and to share the thoughts and opinions of my friends, classmates, and neighbors.
Frances: To me, being a Terra Madre delegate means that I was selected to represent my city, state and country in a respectful and positive manner. It is an honor that highlights Slow Food’s commitment to increasing diversity and participation of underrepresented groups at Terra Madre. Being a delegate also means that I am charged with the responsibility to represent and advocate the concerns of the Southeastern US as well as farmers of color at the conference, learn as much as possible, and share the knowledge with others once I return to the USA. It means that I am a voice for the United States, and have a privilege and opportunity that I should use for the betterment of everyone. It means I am partially responsible for how others perceive the US delegation and I am entrusted with strengthening ties with other concerned citizens across the world so we can continue to implement global change.
Vince: I am still trying to figure that out but I do know it can be a life changing experience.
Frances: As part of the SAAFON delegation, we hope to bring traditional delicacies from the Southeastern USA including green tomato chow-chow and muscadine jelly for other delegates to try and taste. However, I really hope to “gift” other delegates with knowledge about food issues in the USA, and receive information about local and regional initiatives to promote good, clean, fair and just food. I hope to give and receive friendship and mutual understanding. I also hope to taste food from all over the world and learn new recipes!
Esperanza: I have to think on this. I have no idea. It’s tough because I am Latina and associate with Mexican food traditions, but I was born and raised in the Bay Area, CA. When I think of Oakland food tradition, I think of rustic, hyperlocal foods, artisanal preparations and of course “homemade” as a unique brand unto itself. I’m thinking I will harvest what I have growing in my backyard, make a Mexican recipe and can it to swap. That is very Oakland.
Greg: Knowledge. Experiences are the most important. I share photos and ideas. And I enjoy hearing about rural technologies.
Lauren: I plan on gifting small bottles of maple syrup from Mayval Farm, a producer of dairy, cattle, and maple syrup, in Westhampton, MA. In fact, just this morning, I drove down the road to Mayval where I met the farmer, whose family has operated on their land since 1778. In terms of what I hope to receive, I would be delighted to receive anything from Bolivia, Tanzania, or India. I single out these specific countries because I am currently applying for a Watson Fellowship for which I would travel to these places to learn more about their food and agriculture systems.
Vince: We do have a common dish - pickled mustard greens, but I don’t know how I am going to get all that liquid past security. I hope to receive and taste some unique red wine.
Jim: In previous years I have brought various items to swap and this trip will be no different. But I usually bring food items for consumption and food items for thought. So this year we will be bringing small jars of local honey “grown” on former strip mine sites that are now being reclaimed with pollinator-friendly flowers. With food for thought I am bringing copies of our colorful annual report, copies of books by Wendell Berry, and posters with photos from previous Terra Madres. On previous trips I was gifted with such items as hot peppers, moringa tea, bead work and a shirt. But on my 2010 Terra Madre I was given some insanely delicious balsamic vinegar and would love to get my now empty jar replenished because that stuff keeps me sweet!
Cynthia: I want to gift what our farmers produce here in the Southeast. We are bringing everything from green tomato chow-chow from a coop of Native American SAAFON farmers in NC to pear per serves from a group of women farmers in north Georgia. I am not looking for anything particular to be gifted to me. Anything will work. The best thing will be just looking into everyone’s faces and giving out big hugs!