Inspiration for Preserving Biodiversity from Terra Madre
Dec. 9, 2016
By Jenna Mobley
It was an incredible honor to serve as a delegate for the US at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto. At home in Atlanta, I am the Director of Educational Programming for Community Farmers Markets (CFM). The goal of my work in CFM is to educate our Atlanta community on the value of supporting our local small farmers. I believe that through our small farmers and producers, it is possible to sustain biodiversity, along with preserving culinary techniques that have been passed down for generations.
My experience at Terra Madre brought new meaning to our work at home to preserve biodiversity. Our local farmers pride themselves in the unique aesthetic and flavor of many heirloom varieties that they plant - varieties that have been passed down for generations and that have been woven into our local culture. But as Carlo Petrini mentioned in his presentation of Slow Food’s new EartHeart Campaign, the type of agriculture that supports biodiversity and small organic farms is one that doesn’t just produce beautiful delicious food, but it is also one that is good for the environment and beneficial for our health.
Throughout the week, this theme was reinforced and examined on a global scale. In one of many fascinating panel discussions, we explored in depth the various effects of the decreasing biodiversity of bananas in Uganda as a case study. And in a project of Slow Food Presidia, we tasted gelato that featured the distinctive tastes that have been protected in the Piedmont region of Italy from the Toronta Strawberry to Strevi Moscato dessert wine. This global context gives a new perspective to the work that each of our farmers is doing as they choose what to cultivate season to season for their market community and for our environment.
The opportunity to explore gastronomical traditions at Terra Madre further extended my appreciation for our farmers and producers that preserve culinary skills, techniques, and knowledge. On the morning of the first day of Terra Madre, I had the opportunity to visit a 5th generation cheesemaker at La Baita Del Formagg and I enjoyed comparing their process to the cheesemaking process of our local Decimal Place Farm.
In a tasting workshop and presentation called “Honey Around the World,” my eyes were opened to the diverse production and harvesting techniques of honey from Italy, Ethiopia, Brazil, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Macedonia, and Japan, giving a context to the work of Bee Wild Honey in North Georgia. We watched as pasta was shaped by hand at Pastificio Sapori and I had a new appreciation for the skills and knowledge that Antonio brought to the states to sell pasta to our farmers market shoppers. These are gastronomical traditions that stretch back much further than the generation that is experiencing them, traditions that have deep meaning in not only our culture but in cultures around the world.
Terra Madre creates a vibrant space for people from all over the world to come together to celebrate the food and food traditions of their home culture past and present, while also furthering our collective experience of food and the affect of our choices around food on the planet that we all share.
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016 was held in September 2016 in Turin, Italy. Held every two years, it is part conference, part marketplace, part party, and all inspiring. Click here to learn more!
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