Tag Archive for: Slow Food

Diane Campion, Carlo Petrini & Scott Lewis

We were asked to write about our experiences as Slow Food USA delegates to the 2012 Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy as information and details for the 2014 delegates. Here’s our story!

Terra Madre for the First Time

The Terra Madre gathering was something Cindy and I had heard of several times during our decade long Slow Food membership, most often at Slow Food events in Flagstaff or Phoenix, AZ. Our formal introduction was a presentation by a college student who attended the 2010 event with her family who are farmers from Oregon. The photos and descriptions were sensual and alluring, drawing us into a different world where food is revered and the producers and chefs are celebrated. The young woman was at a loss for words a number of times during the slide presentation and we attributed it to nervousness or lack of public speaking experience. Later on, we would come to realize that there really are no words to describe the entire experience; only bits and pieces, thoughts, ideas, flavors, aromas and sights. Even two years later it is difficult to capture many of the sights, sounds, flavors and aromas with words.

Map of Terra Madre

Map of Terra Madre

Once our applications were in, we fervently hoped that we would be chosen as the experiences would be a keystone in our lives, both personally and professionally. You see, we are not only serious foodies, but have an heirloom garden seed business named Terroir Seeds that focuses on why the quality of the soil influences the resulting flavors from the garden so much. We felt that attending Terra Madre, meeting the growers, producers and chefs along with the sights, textures, tastes and scents would better our understanding of food and why its origins are important.

Opening Ceremony Stadium

Opening Ceremony Stadium

When the email arrived announcing our selection as Delegates, we began reviewing the events, conference topics and taste workshops along with the International Congress schedule. We had been selected as Congress delegates as well as Terra Madre ones, so had an extra schedule of meetings and presentations from 130 countries around the world. The sheer number of things to do, see and taste was overwhelming! Fortunately, we were able to attend a “Pre-Terra Madre” event hosted by Slow Food Phoenix with other new delegates along with experienced attendees that gave us some very valuable and useful information that made our trip more enjoyable.

Korean Delegate at Opening Ceremony

Korean Delegate at Opening Ceremony

Probably the single most important tip was that we would be on “Italian time” and not to worry. Things might not seem to be progressing like they would in America, but it would all turn out well in the end. They were right, we did get where we were supposed to be even though there were thousands of people from all around the world speaking many different languages. The logistics must have been a nightmare, but everyone was polite and friendly.

The other great tip was to expect the first day to be very long, exciting and exhausting. We landed in Milan mid-morning and didn’t get to our hotel until after midnight, after a trans-Atlantic flight starting in Phoenix, AZ at 7AM the previous morning. Our schedule didn’t allow us to arrive a day earlier, but if you can it will help to have a full night’s sleep before starting the marathon that is Terra Madre!

Oval Lingotto Building

Oval Lingotto Building

Another tip that is not immediately obvious, but will prove to be invaluable as time goes on is to take lots and lots of high-quality photos. Documenting the experiences will revive memories that fade shockingly fast. Looking at a single photo, I can still vividly remember the Provolone cheese being opened up early on the second morning. The indescribably delicious and powerful aroma, along with the complex and lasting flavors were an eye-opening experience, showing us that we hadn’t tasted anything close to this in the US.

Handmade Provolone Cheese

Handmade Provolone Cheese

When we landed at the airport in Milan, we were with a large group from the USA, along with people from several European, African and Asian countries. The bus ride to Turin was spent getting to know others, finding out what they did for work as well as what things they were doing in their area that related to Slow Food. It was a real eye opener to see how many creative, passionate and dedicated people there were in every conceivable situation all over the world working to make food more accessible, better and healthier for everyone. We felt like we were re-discovering a tribe we belonged to but hadn’t known we had lost. It was a homecoming of sorts, a place the heart knew well but the eye hadn’t yet seen.

Meat Counter at Eataly

Meat Counter at Eataly

After checking in at the Oval Olympic Arena, also known as the Oval Lingotto, we stashed our luggage and wandered over to Eataly for cappuccino and snacks. It was a great introduction to the event, as it seemed to be a Slow Food superstore! Every area in Italy and from other regions of the world was represented, with signs and cards explaining where the food was from and why they were special. We had been advised to eat often the first day and get a cappuccino whenever we started to feel a bit tired. Italian cappuccinos are much smaller than we are used to, so they were the perfect pick-me-up during the entire event.

French Cheeses

French Cheeses


Once we had fueled up, we wandered back through the Lingotto Fiere as the booths were finishing set-up. The event is held in part of the repurposed Fiat factory, and is huge. The stroll through the vast building really wet our appetite for the next few days! Several of us made notes on specific booths and stages we wanted to come back to visit. Even after spending most of 3 days in there, we missed seeing a lot. The sheer size is vast, much bigger than the entire Las Vegas convention center or other convention centers we’ve visited, and they are filled with food!

1st Cappuccini

1st Cappuccini

The opening ceremonies were held at the Palasport Olimpico – also known as the Palaisozaki after the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki – where we were bussed and re-deposited our luggage at a baggage claim area. As the arena started to fill up, we talked to more people and snacked on fresh made sandwiches and more cappuccino. The opening ceremony was impressive with a warm welcome from the officials from Turin, along with an incredible flag procession from each country attending. Afterwards, we walked to our group of buses for the ride to the hotel.

1,000 Gardens in Africa Display

1,000 Gardens in Africa Display

The next 4 days were a whirlwind of food tasting, cooking demonstrations, learning the history of a regionally famous food and bumping into all sorts of people, like Alice Waters, Vandana Shiva and the ever-delightful Carlo Petrini. We were continually impressed with how friendly, helpful and engaging the artisans were, eager to share their knowledge and experience of their particular food, along with delicious samples. It was great to spend a little time at a booth, talking with the family that produced the food and learning more about their lives and how much work or experience went into each taste we had.

Alice Waters at Terra Madre

Alice Waters at Terra Madre

They were equally interested about our lives in America, with most being fascinated when we said we were from Arizona. Many Italians want to see the Grand Canyon, and a surprising number had been there or in other parts of the southwest. They always wanted to compare food notes, what we ate, what we raised or grew and what we considered to be our “traditional” foods. That was difficult, as the USA is truly the melting pot! They were fascinated at the variety of foods we ate on a regular basis and were impressed that we didn’t live off of McDonalds or other fast foods. Yes, American commercialism at its best!

LaVazza Cappuccini

LaVazza Cappuccini

On the other hand, we received a valuable lesson in viewpoint when we were at the La Vazza booth sampling regional coffees paired with a traditional treat. The young woman guiding us through the selections was a student at UniSG – the University of Gastronomic Sciences that is part of Slow Food in Italy. When we remarked on how wonderful it is to have an event like Terra Madre celebrating traditional foodways, she commented that what we were seeing was indeed special, but everyday Italians were much more like Americans in the respect of wanting convenience and “progress” in their food choices, so traditional ways were declining. We were surprised, mainly because of the image of Italy as a bastion of traditional, honored food systems and regions. During our conversation, we learned that there was a very strong movement in Italy to continue the local and regional foods that had become more sustained and successful. Part of this was due to the influence of Slow Food in Italy!

Pizza Workshop

Pizza Workshop

In talking to the growers or vendors about their foods, taste and flavor were always one of the first things to be mentioned or demonstrated. Those were the primary concern, with everything else being secondary. What a refreshing change for us, where we are used to flavor being heavily advertised but rarely well represented! When we would talk about wanting to bring seeds back and introduce those varieties to the American public, the very first comment – always – was, “It won’t taste the same!” They were right, of course, but we were looking to introduce flavors and different varieties of traditional vegetables that are unknown here. After some discussion, several growers understood what we were trying to do, but always came back to the flavor being different. They were happy to see that we were trying to spread the word about the uniqueness of their foods, however.

Genovese Pesto Demonstration

Genovese Pesto Demonstration

With all of the centuries of traditional food production, some with defined methods dating back 300 to 400 years in an unbroken line, there were definitely creative twists and experimentation represented. Several craft breweries were showcasing their approach to small batch, handmade beer with unusual herbs and spices, all of which were completely different than what craft brewing is in America, but completely delicious. One family of cheese makers from southern Italy stand out in our memory, as the son was telling us that he had been in the international banking business but had returned to making cheese after the economic downturn. He showed us several of the traditional aged cheeses his family had been making for over 100 years. Then, with a bit of awkwardness, he introduced us to his own creative twists – aging cheese in the local winery’s grape must, or crushed grapes, for a completely different approach and beautiful flavor for his goat cheeses. He said that the local area thought him crazy at first, but were starting to come around after several years of tasting his new cheeses.

Lazio Region Cheesemaker

Lazio Region Cheesemaker

If one story can sum up our experiences at Terra Madre, it would be this: during the International Congress presentations, just before lunch, a young Palestinian woman spoke about the hardships and challenges her community faced in finding land and enough water to grow fresh food for their villages CSA or community supported agriculture program. As she started speaking, the entire room grew quiet and charged with anticipation, waiting to hear what she had to say. Their village was split by the dividing walls, and her talk was charged with emotion and passion. Despite the incredible challenges, she talked about the successes they had gained, growing more and more food to feed themselves and gain a measure of self-respect and resiliency. We broke for lunch after her presentation.

Chile and Garlic Bouquet

Chile and Garlic Bouquet

Soon after the break a young Israeli man got up to speak, and the room once again became silent and charged with anticipation. After he introduced himself, he stated that not all Israelis supported the current program, nor were all antagonistic against the Palestinian situation. He then described his village’s challenges in obtaining enough land and clean water to grow fresh, healthy food for his community, which was also close to the dividing wall. After a couple of years, they were able to grow more and more food, gaining some independence from the food trucks that so many were living off of.

Both young people exemplified what we saw time and time again at Terra Madre – individuals in all kinds of situations and conditions all around the world working diligently day to day to make a positive difference where they lived, no matter the beginning challenges. It really gave us hope that what Slow Food stands for – good, clean and fair food – is a powerful, positive change in itself.

Salone del Gusto

Salone del Gusto

While we may not agree on many things – religion, politics, race, nationality and economics – we can agree on the foundational importance of food and our need to eat and eat well. Maybe, just maybe, food is that place where we can meet, eat and begin to find more common ground to agree on.

100 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Italian Balsamic vinegar is pretty amazing, as even the “everyday” variety is highly tasty. Surprisingly, the traditional balsamic vinegar isn’t “true” vinegar in the classic sense of a fermented product that is removed from the fermentation after a specific period of time such as apple cider, wine or rice vinegar. Balsamic vinegar remains in the fermentation vessels for the entire time it is aging. It has been made in the Modena and Reggio Emilia regions since the Middle Ages, being mentioned as an established and highly regarded product in documents from 1046.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is produced by reducing pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes over low heat until the desired syrupy consistency is reached, called mosto cotto in Italian. This syrup, called a “must” is then aged for a minimum of 12 years in a series of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. The barrels or casks are made of different woods such as chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and in the past, juniper. The results of this aging is a thick liquid that is a rich, glossy deep brown with complex flavors and aromas from the grapes and different woods that they’ve absorbed over time. The typical time for aging is 12, 18, 25, 50 and up to 100 years in those assorted wooden casks. No sampling is allowed until the aging is finished, and then a unique method of production is put into motion. A small amount of finished balsamic vinegar is drawn from the smallest and oldest cask, with each cask being topped off from the next largest and youngest cask. This happens once a year and is called “in perpetuum”. This is one of the reasons that certified traditionally produced balsamic vinegar can cost upwards of $150 – $400 for a 100ml bottle!

While we were at the Slow Food Terra Madre event in Turino, Italy last October, we were fortunate enough to be invited to sample several traditional balsamic vinegars produced in the Modena region, and certified as traditionally made. It seems that being tall, from Arizona and wearing my Australian Akubra hat gave us an open invitation with many of the food vendors that were eager to talk about the American West and share their culture!

Italian Balsamic Vinegars

This is what we were greeted with when he motioned us over to sample his treasures! There were some empty jam jars in front, followed by an apple and pear vinegar, made very similarly to how traditional balsamic vinegar is made, but not aged nearly as long – only 3 – 5 years. Very light, intensely fruity and delicious. We never knew that these kinds of vinegar existed.

12 Year Balsamic Vinegar

Next he started sampling the aged balsamic vinegars. The 12 year bottle was the first one, much like what we are used to seeing in the United States in consistency, but darker and much more aromatic as he poured the small sample out onto our spoons. Even at almost arms length, we could immediately smell the complex aromas of wood cask aged balsamic. Our mouths were watering before ever tasting the first sample!

18 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

This is what the presentation or shipping box looks like for the 18 year old balsamic. You’ll notice the price – 47 Euros, which translates to about $63.00 in late 2013. That sounds expensive until you look online at what DOP certified balsamic vinegar produced in Modena sells for in the US. We didn’t taste this one, as there wasn’t an open bottle.

12 Year Old Balsamic Vinegar

Next up was the 25 year old variety. Noticeably thicker in consistency, almost syrup-like. It moved slower out of the bottle and clung to the walls for longer. The aroma was much more complex and intense. The flavors really popped on the tongue with 4 or 5 flavors readily identified, then others showing up that surprised us. The flavors lasted for a long time, showing us how a tiny bit could be used for a powerful intrigue in dressings or sauces.

25 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

The presentation box for the 25 year balsamic, with pricing. 75 Euros is $100. It takes some dedication and patience to take a quarter of a century for a $100 bottle of vinegar!

50 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

We were then treated to a 50 year old balsamic vinegar. This was much thicker than the others, the gentleman had to shake the bottle a bit to get a few drops onto our spoons. It was different in that it didn’t have as much of an immediate aroma, but really lit off some fireworks of flavors in our mouths! As soon as it warmed up on our tongues, our sinuses were filled with multiple scents that continued to surprise us, coming from what was originally grape juice! The flavors didn’t just linger, they dominated our palates for a couple of minutes – to the point where we couldn’t smell anything other than this vinegar. After a couple of minutes lost in wonder at the craftsmanship and experience that created such a wonder, we took some swigs of water to prepare us for the Holy Grail of aged balsamic vinegars.

100 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

100 years of aging for this balsamic vinegar. He showed it to us, and I was very impressed that he would share such an expensive and precious delicacy with a complete stranger. I had read about these ancient balsamics, but had not expected to come across one or be invited to taste it. These highly aged balsamics are so valued that there are families that pass a bottle like this down from one generation to another.

All through this process, there were a number of people visiting his booth and a number of people were curious to see what we were sampling, but no one else joined us during the tasting. The proprietor explained in his limited English what we were tasting and the ages of the different samples. One of the impressive things that we experienced was the continuation of the flavors from the youngest to the oldest. There was a clear connection between all of them, with each successive taste getting stronger, more complex and more intriguing. It was like walking into a hall with a few doors, opening one to see hundreds more doors, then opening another to see thousands. That was what each taste was like!

100 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar Presentation Box

The presentation box for the 100 year old balsamic is hand made of wood, with a satin lining to cushion the bottle. There was no price tag, but when we asked were told that it was “around 450 Euros” or $605 in 2013 dollars. It has been made this way since 1850 by the Malpighi family in Modena. They are truly connected with the land and the craft of making artisan balsamic vinegar.

It was an education and an honor to be invited to sample such flavors and aromas that take time and dedication to produce. It was another reminder of why food is truly important, why the quality matters and why care and dedication to craftsmanship remains a valuable part of our food pathways even in today’s ever-connected and busy world.



Slow Food Southwest Regional Meeting

The Slow Food Southwest regional meeting was held in Chino Valley, AZ on June 8 and 9, 2013 with members from several Slow Food chapters including Phoenix, Prescott, Santa Fe, Southern Arizona and the Navajo Churro Lamb Presidia. In addition, Slow Food USA was present with Richard McCarthy, Executive Director and Aimee Thunberg, Associate Director of Communications.

The meeting was held at the Prescott chapter leader’s house, Molly Beverly. Regional and seasonal dishes were prepared and brought to the meeting, or cooked at the event. Several fermented salsas were offered as starters, with a wide range of dishes for the dinner and next day’s Sunday brunch.

Richard McCarthy, the new Executive Director for Slow Food USA opened the meeting with a thoughtful and honest overview of Slow Food’s successes and challenges that have come from its growth in the past several years. He then turned to look at the future and what he and the board have for the vision of Slow Food in the United States. There are some great things that are set to appear on the horizon in the next few months!

After the meeting finished, dinner was prepared by the Prescott chapter while everyone enjoyed getting to know each other. New friendships and partnerships were formed over some incredibly tasty food, along with a lot of laughter and joking. At our table the two Navajo representatives demonstrated that they have a seriously funny side to them that is both creative and has stamina as we were hooting and hollering for well over an hour! Several people from the other table came over to see what all the noise was about, and wound up staying to enjoy the good times.

The next morning started with an indescribably delicious Sunday brunch, after which we finished up the meeting. A lot of networking happened both days, with a result that the Southwest chapters are looking forward to working much more closely together to share and spread the word of how wonderful Slow Food is.

Enjoy the video and overview of the Southwest Regional meeting!

The Slow Food Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto events are world-famous for their sights, tastes and smells of top-shelf quality foods made in a traditional way. It is exciting to see, taste and contrast flavors from different regions of Italy and across the world with just a few steps and a couple of minutes of your time. Much of this is serious business as artisanal food producers showcase their hard work and experience in creating classical foods.

Not everything and everyone is all about work with no play, however. There is much to see and hear that is fun, unusual and surprising to see amongst the booths that is light hearted and enjoys a laugh with friends, new and old. There were an abundance of children soaking up the sights, aromas and flavors of the Salone with their parents or in groups doing tastings, cooking or creating spice mixes.

Our presentation showcases some of the fun sights we came across during our visit to Slow Food Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto. Enjoy!


We are pleased to present our experiences of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Slow Food Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy. It was held the evening of October 24 at the Palasport Olimpico, also known as the Palaisozaki, after the Japanese architect’s name – Arata Isozaki. This is in the Santa Rita district of Turin, just east of the Olympic stadium. It was built for the 2006 Olympics and hosted the ice hockey events. With seating for over 12,000, it is an impressive venue!

We arrived early after registering at the main Slow Food event center and waited for the gates to open. We quickly learned to make use of these periods of waiting and not be impatient that things didn’t run on an American schedule. Introducing ourselves, we quickly made some new friends and were once again impressed with the dedication, creativity and just plain genius with which so many people were applying themselves in their search of how to answer Slow Food’s directive of “Good, clean and fair” food for all. This opening ceremony was for and about the international delegates but was open to the public.
Once the gates opened, we checked our luggage into the baggage claim area and made a line for the latest in a long line of cappuccinos (cappuccini in Italian!), as we had been awake for the better part of 30 hours at this point. We had arrived in Milan at 7:30am that day after a combined flight of almost 13 hours, and wouldn’t check into our hotel until after the opening ceremony. A long but exhilarating day!

People were encouraged to dress in their native clothing, and it was a grand sight to see, with the entrance being made coming down the long stairs into the delegates seating area. The surrounding stands were soon filled almost to capacity with the public, who was very enthusiastic. The energy and excitement was contagious and had the whole arena buzzing.

After the opening welcome speech by the Mayor of Turin, the parade of flags commenced. A delegate from each nation present presented their native flag and was seated in honor above the podium. 95 countries were present this year! Afterwards there were many presentations and speeches about the different directions Slow Food has moved, as well as live poetry acted out by Nobel literature prizewinner and playwright Dario Fo, live music by Italian trumpeter, singer, composer and arranger Roy Paci. Both Vandana Shiva and Alice Waters presented their thoughts to thunderous acclaim. The United Nation’s FAO Director-General José Graziano Da Silva gave praise and strength to the Slow Food movement, acknowledging the impact it has had worldwide and noting that governments and advocates for sustainable food are turning to Slow Food for help in writing proposals and drafting legislation.

This was a fine promise of things to come, that was more than fulfilled in the next 4 days!

Our local Slow Food Prescott chapter held its almost-monthly meeting and potluck, along with a fermentation workshop hosted by Allison Jack, Agroecology faculty at Prescott College and Molly Beverly, Chef at Crossroads Café of Prescott College. This workshop was a reprisal of the fermentation workshop and book-signing that Sandor Katz presented on October 24th. Unfortunately, we were in Italy, tasting our way through Turin and missed his presentation and workshop.

The evening got its usual tasty Slow Food start with a potluck of home-made, home-grown or locally sourced dishes. It has been remarkable to see the growth of this chapter in the past couple of years in respect to its palate, understanding of quality ingredients and love for truly locally made foods. It is pretty common to hear of someone describing their dish as having the majority of the ingredients from their own garden, or proudly naming who grew or raised them from the area. The array of dishes from almost 40 people was inspiring! Not only was the number of people attending impressive, the quality and flavor of the dishes would be at home in a high-end restaurant or supper club. There was a fermented section, with fermented tomato paste, beets, carrots and sourdough bread all adding their unique flavors to the dining.

After dinner was finished the main event was then opened, with Allison presenting some tried and true recipes for a quick kim chee and Hungarian sauerkraut. Everyone brought assorted vegetables that they wanted to ferment, and the fun began! After a short presentation by Allison, everyone got to grating, chopping and slicing their veggies and putting them into jars to start the fermentation. People got to see some new techniques of vegetable processing, new combinations to ferment and generally had a lot of fun learning from each other.

We recorded a short video to help bring the experience and flavors to you. Enjoy!

Slow Food International’s premier worldwide event – Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto – happens every two years in Turin, Italy. Terra Madre is educational workshops, culinary tastings, speeches and panel discussions with 130 countries represented this year. Salone del Gusto is a world’s fair of food, with 4 huge halls devoted entirely to food of all kinds from around the world. We were fortunate enough to be chosen as US delegates, along with about 230 other people. We had been somewhat prepared by others that had attended before so the scale didn’t overwhelm us. The quality and diversity of what was presented, both edible and educational, was astounding. At some points in the day, there were over 15 different workshops, panel discussions, regional tasting events and special culinary projects showcasing a specific regional treasure all happening at the same time! This was in addition to the Salone which occupied more than double the space of both buildings of the Las Vegas convention center. One of our delegates responded to the question of what it was like with “Tasty and tiring.”

It will take several other articles and videos to give a more rounded overview of the event, as it is really several events all rolled up into one. We were chosen as International Congress delegates, which was a completely separate event that is held only once every four years and is attended by those chosen for their work in advancing the core tenants of Slow Food – “Good, clean and fair.” To say we were honored to be among the likes of Alice Waters, Vandana Shiva, Carlo Petrini and 650 others is a monumental understatement. On two separate occasions we felt we were in hallowed company. The first was the opening ceremony for the 230 Slow Food USA delegates where Carlo had some remarks that were amazing. I walked up to the front of the room just before the opening ceremony started to get a photo and stood there for a minute looking at everyone getting settled and chatting with their new neighbors. It was both humbling and inspiring to be in the same room with so many talented, dedicated, passionate and brilliant people who are all working at the same goal from so many different angles – good food that is real and honors all who are involved with it. The second time was in the gorgeous theatre that housed the opening ceremony for the International Congress. This theatre was in the renovated Fiat factory that has its own test track on the roof, a huge building in itself. The theatre was red velvet and oak, with all 650 delegates sprinkled throughout. It was the same feelings as with the USA delegates, but on a larger scale; especially when we heard several of the speeches of what other countries were working on or had accomplished.

With that teaser, we present for your enjoyment “A World of Taste – Slow Food Terra Madre/ Salone del Gusto 2012.” This is a short overview of photos and some short video we took while attending the event. This is only a small sampling, so stay tuned for more to come!

Carlo Petrini Slow Food

The co-founder of Slow Food International, Carlo Petrini took the stage after the opening ceremonies at the Slow Food USA delegate meeting during the 2012 Slow Food Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto conference in Turin, Italy this past October. He gave his remarks to about 230 delegates from all across the USA who are working daily on the core tenants of “Good, clean and fair” food for everyone. It was impressive to see the amount of passion, dedication, talent and genius gathered together in that room, all for the sake of one of our most important yet overlooked foundations of life; food.

Carlo seemed to be impressed as well, with comments like “What you’ve done in America is extraordinary, not just for the USA but for the rest of the world. A Slow Revolution toward respecting food, a deeper appreciation of food that serves as an example for the entire world.” He went on to say that we’ve helped “Achieve the most important thing that Slow Food needs to achieve – given back a holistic sense of food.” We’ve started to show that food is not and never can be a commodity, merchandise, just a price point.

Its story is important – the memory, the people and its history. By reducing food and everything about it to its commodity values of productivity and profit, we are approaching a brink. That brink is the loss of diversity, not only of the varieties of foods that have nourished us for thousands of years, but the loss of human and cultural diversity as well. Those different types of diversities have enabled us to withstand and overcome many different challenges over the millennia, adapting and growing stronger in the process. Without all of those diversities, we are all weakened and more vulnerable to changes, whether expected or unexpected, human or natural caused.

Carlo closed by saying that the people of Slow Food have the holistic vision of the path back to the healthy diversity that will make our food and our communities whole again. Slow Food delegates practice that vision daily, working to strengthen our food connection everywhere we are, every day. Watch the video and see Carlo’s thoughts for yourself!

Slow Food Terra Madre 2012

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2012

Here is where we will document our trip to Turin, Italy to attend Slow Food Terra Madre 2012, so watch this Topic/Category for updates. We are International Congress delegates, which is a separate conference at the end of Terra Madre for Slow Food leaders worldwide to discuss the direction of Slow Food globally. It is held every 5 years. This is the first year the International Congress is being held concurrently with Terra Madre.

We are honored to have been selected, especially as International Congress delegates. We will be meeting with local, sustainable food leaders from across the world to exchange ideas, challenges and successes and plan a way forward for a sustainable food economy based on the Slow Food precepts of “good, clean and fair”. This is some truly ground-breaking, leading edge work and we are excited to be a part of it. We will be attending the full Terra Madre event before the Congress starts.

There are a couple of distinctions for this event:

Terra Madre is the place where workshops, meetings, demonstrations and panel discussions take place. There are over 100 Taste Workshops and Meet the Maker events where people are guided through regional tastings by international experts. There is also many different Theatres of Taste where chefs prepare their signature dishes in front of the audience, demonstrating their unique approaches and discussing influences. Internationally acclaimed chefs from around the world put on special Dinner Dates where they prepare their specialties for a very small group of people. You can watch a short YouTube clip of the 2009 Terra Madre.

Salone del Gusto is an international market and showcase for food communities from around the world. Three pavilions of the Lingotto Exhibition Center will be dedicated to Italy, while the adjacent Oval Olympic Arena will host producers from all five continents. Special areas will be serving Italian regional dishes, while Terra Madre cooks will be preparing ethnic specialties and street food that will highlight the diversity of gastronomic heritages from around the world. The area will host around 1,000 exhibitors from 100 countries. Arriving from Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Asia, local food producers will once again be the stars of the event, offering cheeses, cured meats, fish, breads, sweets, grains, honeys, fruits and vegetables from 50 different countries.

2012 marks the first time that Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto have been hosted in the same place and are also the first time the events are open to the public. In previous years, only Slow Food members were invited. This is also the first time that the International Congress is occurring at the same time, as it meets once every 5 years. This year will truly be a special event! There are estimates of around 200,000 people will attend one of the events, so we will be busy.

Slow Food

Slow Food is Good, Clean and Fair

We are honored to have been selected as US delegates to the 2012 Slow Food Terra Madre in Turin, Italy October 25-29. There are only 200 Delegates chosen from across the country to represent Slow Food USA. This is a very unique and advantageous opportunity for us as a small heirloom seed company to attend while creating and strengthening connections with producers around the world. This event will help to further our work of preserving and promoting heirloom seeds, home gardening and sustainable, local food networks.

Since 2004 Turin, Italy hosts this international event every two years in the northwest Piedmont area. Slow Food is an international grassroots membership organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all. Terra Madre is a network of people who actively work to preserve and promote sustainable farming that respects nature, traditions and communities.

During this trip we plan to meet and make friends with food producers around the world and learn from their experiences while sharing ours. The synergy of a group of committed people with a common goal and interest can make incredible change in the world. Now more than ever we need this change on both a global and local level. Bringing back stories of successes and challenges can help make changes in all of our communities. We have a unique position of interacting not only with our local community but a customer base that expands across North America and many countries, giving us the ability to share our experiences at Slow Food Terra Madre with a very diverse audience. The time is right for us to gain a larger view of the global food system by participating first hand in such a unique event.

The Slow Food organization is an ironic way of saying “No” to fast food and a fast, superficial life. Slow Food means living a deep, meaningful life; beginning at the table. It was founded to counter the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our daily food choices affect the rest of the world.

It has been said that the best revenge is living well. It really starts with eating well, as eating is such a central part of all of our lives whether we consciously realize it or not. Not only is food the third most important ingredient for life behind air and water, but every civilization and culture throughout history has shaped and been shaped by its food traditions. Slow Food is simply reconnecting with those roots in today’s world by opposing the industrial standardization of taste and culture, and the unrestrained power of the food industry and industrial agriculture.

“Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature.” – Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food

The tenants of Slow Food are Good, Clean and Fair. Good simply means a fresh and flavorful seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is part of our local culture. Clean designates food production and consumption that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health. Fair is accessible pricing for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small-scale producers. Farmers Markets, Community Supported Agriculture, local food swaps, community gardens, neighborhood gardens and over the fence backyard garden food trading are all examples of the ideals outlined above.

Terra Madre arose out of Slow Food and is made up of small farmers, producers, cooks, academics, consumers, non-government organizations and youth who come together to discuss how to improve the food system collaboratively at global, regional and local meetings. The many resulting projects and exchanges promote the sharing of knowledge and best practice approaches around the world.

The first world meeting of Terra Madre was in 2004 in Italy and brought together 5,000 producers from 130 countries. The second in 2006 included 1,000 chefs, aware of their important role in supporting local, quality production, as well as 400 researchers and academics seeking to bridge the theory of their work with hands-on knowledge. In 2008, 1,000 young producers, chefs, students and activists from around the world joined the network to show their commitment to ensuring traditions and agricultural wisdom is handed from one generation to the next.

“Foods that Change the World” is this year’s theme. For the first time the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre will be a combined event and open to the public, not just Slow Food members. In years past the Salone del Gusto was the venue where foods and products from around the world were showcased while Terra Madre housed the discussions on successes and challenges of food producers everywhere. This year they are combined, making it the most important event solely dedicated to food, responsibility and respect for those who produce it and the environment.

“Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012 will represent a defining moment for the thousands of people that will come together in Turin to discuss the future of food,” said Slow Food president Carlo Petrini. “Our daily choices and the food that we put on our plates determine the future of the environment, economy and society, and it is more crucial than ever that we raise a collective voice this October and become an active part in solving the problems that are affecting the earth and the global community.”

To make this trip a success, we are asking for your support. As 2 of 200 US Delegates we are responsible for travel to and from Turin, Italy. The costs of international air travel have increased greatly in the past year, and we are seeking support to help cover these costs to attend. 100% of contributions will go directly to travel expenses. This is a very unique opportunity for us as a small family owned company; however the costs are significant. We ask for your support in any amount that you can contribute, as everything will make a difference! Many of you have commented that the work we are doing is significant and important, so please pass this along to your friends, family and neighbors that are interested in preserving heirloom seeds and strengthening local, sustainable food networks.

To contribute, please visit our Slow Food Terra Madre link in our store!