It’s Terra Madre Day! This global event is an offshoot of the biennial international Slow Food gathering that happens every other fall in Turin, Italy.
Slow Food started in 1989 in Italy, in response, as the story goes, to the opening of a McDonald’s at the foot of the Spanish Steps, one of Rome’s most well known landmarks. Carlo Petrini, Slow Food founder, outraged at the encroachment of fast food on his country’s cultural heritage, decided to respond with a a push for re-valuing and celebrating food that isn’t eaten behind the wheel, at your desk, or in front of the television, but rather that’s prepared with care and knowledge handed down from previous generations, and that is eaten communally and savored.
Terra Madre Day is supposed to be a way for attendees of the Turin gathering to bring inspiration and motivation back to all corners of the globe; to maintain the momentum from Italy where hundreds of people gather to share ideas about small-scale agriculture and heritage food processing techniques.
Since I was incredibly fortunate to be a delegate to that Slow Food gathering in Italy way back in the day in 2010 (gracious), I thought I’d share an article I wrote shortly after returning from my trip. Oh, the memories! That was a truly magical experience.
Read (and squint at the ridiculously tiny pictures — though yes, you can click on them to see the full-sized images) the article here:
My favorite memories of the trip are the dinner with the Frenchmen, the lunch with the amazingly international crew, and hearing the story of the French interpreter getting emotional as she translated Carlo Petrini’s words at the closing evening’s gathering. But I had forgotten completely the sentiment from one economist who spoke several times throughout the event:
Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef, whom I heard speak on several occasions during the conference, put it best when he explained that, just as we see and feel disease but don’t see the immune system at work, we are seeing and feeling the negative effects of our current food system but not seeing as publicly those working to combat it. We are the collective immune system for our food system, and our strength lies in our diffusiveness. It is necessary for us and for our resources to be spread around the globe.
In the spirit of it being Terra Madre Day, for dinner tonight I made crepes with my sourdough starter that’s been passed along from kitchen to kitchen since originating with an early 20th century Alaskan pioneer woman.