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'Slow Food' movement may protect rural villages from extinction | Coastweek

At least 500 million of the world's [estimated] 570 million farms are managed by families, making family farms predominant in global agriculture. Dispersed settlement landscape [left] in Carinthia, Austria. In the foreground, a few houses from Obermillstatt near Lake Millstatt (Millstätter See), district Spittal an der Drau in Carinthia. Behind the western view of Grantsch and Lammersdorf. In the background of the Lake Millstatt. Historical farming [right] estate Stoffl in Radenthein, Carinthia, with an 18th-century arrangement of a main building, a granary and two buildings used as stables and barns. WIKIPEDIA PHOTOS - ALOIS AUER VLG MESSNER and JOHANN JARITZ

'Slow Food' movement may protect rural villages from extinction

by Alessandra Cardone TURIN Italy (Xinhua) -- As it happens to plant varieties, seeds, or animal species, also villages can be at risk of extinction.

Yet, they should be preserved as much as biodiversity, for they are part of the gastronomy and cultural heritage, and usually provide a model of production sustainable for the environment.

This message was largely discussed at the 12th edition of the Terra Madre-Salone del Gusto, one of the world’s largest exhibitions of local food cultures that ran in the Italian city of Turin on Sept. 20-24.

More than 5,000 delegates from 140 countries and regions, over 800 exhibitors, and 500 food communities took part in the event this year.

Representatives with Slow Food—the grassroots movement promoting the right of access to sustainable, healthy, and fair food at global level—said this would become a new guideline.

"The defense of villages represents the new frontier on which Slow Food has to work globally," Carlo Petrini, founder and president of Slow Food International, told a conference.

The risk of extinction for villages was directly connected to the urbanization of hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Experts warned such wide trend would risk making development less and less sustainable for environment and human health, unless a partial balance could be found in small-scale production communities.

Abdullahi Adem from Ethiopia could easily agree with this concept.

Behind the desk of his country’s stand, he explained properties and benefits of an organic honey made in the Oromia region.

"This honey comes from an area some 3,000 meters high in the mountains, and it is not their only special product," Adem told Xinhua.

Yet, he said, if that community was not to be protected by social and climate changes, farmers could gradually disappear, along with all of their farming knowledge.

The stalls of the international exhibitors offered a wide variety of products to discover and taste, mostly food.

For example, there were special teas from South Africa and forest-friendly teas from Thailand, organic cranberries from Latvia, saffron from Afghanistan, wild fruits from Argentina, seaweeds from Japan, lupine beans from Peru, karité butter from Burkina Faso, among others.

Andrea, a 36-year-old office worker from Rimini, Italy seemed interested in everything.

The man stressed local productions and environment-friendly consumption were both crucial in his idea of development.

"My family and I like genuine food that is also produced in a sustainable way," he told Xinhua.

"Unfortunately, daily life in a city does not always make this practice easy to follow, and the access to large-scale distribution is still the simplest way to buy food."

For Slow Food’s Petrini, the link between protecting villages and promoting a sustainable food production (the "Food for Change" campaign) was strong.

"The more you protect life in villages, the stronger our ‘Food for Change’ message is," he told Xinhua.

In fact, people would take care more easily of their original land, and best practices were easier to implement in small communities.

"But if we lose all small centers, raising awareness about a eco-friendly food production becomes harder," Petrini said.

A project repeatedly mentioned by experts at the Salone del Gusto referred to China, where the local branch of Slow Food planned to create 1,000 "slow villages" by 2025.

"We are outlining the specific guidelines on how to create a slow village," Sun Qun, secretary general of Slow Food Great China, told Xinhua.

"We will be ready to start the construction of the first village by the end of this year, with the help of the Chengdu city’s government."

The pilot project would be developed in the community of Anren near the city of Chengdu, in the Sichuan province, which hosted the 2017 Slow Food Int’l Congress.

Sun explained the goal was to have slow villages formed by original farmers, original inhabitants, and original food productions.

This might not be easy, since many local farmers would not easily believe a slow village could become a new community.

Yet, Sun stressed, China today offered big opportunities.

"I see at least three major tools: the first is communication, which is very developed in China and could help us present the slow village to the society as a ‘fashionable’ model," he said.

Secondly, major players in the logistic technology sector might get involved, providing small farmers in villages a larger access to the market.

Finally, Sun suggested Chinese big chains of restaurants could play a role.

"These chains have young chefs, who aim at becoming not just good professionals in the food industry, but ‘fashionable’ chefs," he said.

"If we are able to involve them in the project, invite them to visit a slow village ...

"We could show them one way to be really innovative in their profession."


European Union project to preserve gastronomic
heritage across central Europe launched in Italy

by Alessandra Cardone TURIN, Italy (Xinhua) -- A new European Union (EU) project to preserve gastronomic heritage was launched at the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto Expo running here on Sept. 20-24.

The project "Slow Food-Central Europe (CE): Culture, Heritage, and Food" will involve five cities in five countries: Venice in Italy, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Krakow in Poland, Kecskemet in Hungary, and Brno in the Czech Republic.

Led by Slow Food—a global movement promoting the right of access to good, healthy, and fair food at global level—it would see each of the cities launching a pilot initiative in public spaces.

Such initiatives would imply multiple actions, "within the Slow Food philosophy that aims at enhancing specific characteristics of the local gastronomy, its roots, and cultural heritage," the Salone del Gusto organizers said in a statement.

For example, Venice would launch a "Venice APPetite" project to guide local people, students, and tourists to the discovery of the most typical Venetian cuisine.

The initiative would include two new gastronomic paths in the small islands of Sant’Erasmo and Pellestrina in the lagoon, and 10 information boards on local products to be set up across the city’s most central areas.

A mobile app would also be launched to promote virtual thematic itineraries.

In the Croatian Dubrovnik, a multimedia exhibition will be devoted to the local gastronomic and cultural heritage.

The Croatian initiative—called "City Feeders"—would include video interviews with selected local farmers still following traditional production practices, and analyses by local experts of written documents and popular works on the local gastro-cultural heritage.

The project in the Czech Republic would focus on specifically promoting the gastronomy of the South Moravia region among school children and teachers of the regional capital Brno, along with the broad public.

Among the actions here, a Slow Food taste educational kit (called "To the Origins of Taste") would be provided to teachers, while practical workshops will bring together school children and local farmers in common cooking activities of seasonal foods.

A Children’s Farmers’ Market would also be organized in Brno in October 2019, with students managing the stalls and selling their own grown and baked products.

Similar actions, yet adjusted to the respective local gastronomy traditions, will be launched in Poland’s Krakow and Hungary’s Kecskemet.

Financed through the Interreg Central Europe—the EU funding program encouraging cooperation among central European regions—the Slow Food-CE project would run until May 2020.

This year’s Terra Madre Salone del Gusto event drew in the northwest city of Turin some 5,000 delegates from 140 countries and regions, over 800 Italian and foreign exhibitors, and 500 food communities.

It is the world’s largest exhibition devoted to local food traditions and cultures, and to the exchange among small-scale producers.

The Slow Food association was founded in Italy’s Piedmont region by Carlo Petrini in 1986 to defend the country’s regional gastronomic traditions, and overall promote a "slow pace" life model.

It grew into a global movement that today involves local farmers, producers, agronomists, and academics in some 160 countries and regions.


Chinese food producers joining 'Slow Food' movement

ROME Italy (Xinhua) -- Small food producers, restaurant owners, chefs, and professors from China are joining the Slow Food movement worldwide in order to create a greener and more sustainable lifestyle in the future, according to the head of the Slow Food organization for China.

"For the first time in its history, Slow Food China took part in the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto gathering in Italy," president of Slow Food China Qiao Ling told Xinhua in a recent interview in Turin, referring to the annual exhibition of food, agricultural products in Italy.

"The association aims to preserve the tradition of food processes and to preserve the variety of food,"she said.

Slow Food China was inaugurated in January 2015 at the Italian Embassy in Beijing.

Slow Food China has set up an alliance with the China Association for the Promotion of International Agricultural Cooperation, and is currently registered as a non-profit organization.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is an international event dedicated to food and gastronomy that takes place every year in Turin.

The 2016 gathering wound down last week.

The meeting is organized by Slow Food, an association founded in Italy by Carlo Petrini in 1986 to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure, and a slow pace of life.

The Slow Food movement "aims to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat," according to Qiao.

It now promotes a comprehensive approach to food and involves people in over 160 countries "working to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food," she said.

Slow Food China, as a Chinese association linked to the Slow Food International network, always follows international values, criterion, process and structure, Qiao added.

This time,"our delegation brought to Turin around 70 products that belong to the project Ark of Taste," Qiao recalled.

It is a catalogue of endangered Chinese traditional food, the goal being to protect culinary heritage, she stressed.

Products exhibited in Turin included Hanyuan Pepper, a perennial and spiny plant.

"Its berries are collected and harvested just like common pepper,"Qiao explained.

"It has been collected for more than 1,000 years in the Sichuan province in southwest China.

Other products brought by the Chinese delegation to the international show were the Leishan Red Bean, Ordos Yellow Millet Wine, wheat sauce, hand made oat bread, and Qingyi River Yayufish.

They also displayed the fancy buns of Huanghua, a type of sweet and soft buns native to the town of Yang Erzhuang in the northern part of the county of Huanghua.

Since they require a lot of manual work, they are an artisan production, said Piero Ling, co-founder of Slow Food China.

"Our aim is to promote the message of Slow Food in China and what they are doing,"said Vittorio Sun, the other co-founder of Slow Food China.

"Last year we organized an event in Beijing, the so-called Slow Food Beijing Festival."

The Chinese association wants to promote the development of the Slow Food movement, and share its vision, objectives and basic ideas, Sun said.

Among their goals is "to set up a communication platform in order to exchange different cultural experiences and information relating to the extraordinary Chinese food heritage," he added.


Slow Food is worldwide organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking



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