Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre Event 2012: A Slow Food Success!

Wrapping up on October 29th, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012 was a great success. Over 220,000 people, including both Terra Madre delegates and the general public, occupied Turin, Italy to attend this exciting event. From October 25th-29th, 16,000 of these attendees packed a total of 65 conferences organized by Slow Food. These conferences ranged from debates on various food related topics to presentations from food community representatives, food producers, and even the youth.

Chefs Eunice Domingos Rambai, Mariamo Momade Ali and Sara Ismael from Mozambique prepare a traditional rice and cashew sauce dish from their homeland.

Terra Madre took a deep consideration of the young people attending the event and held several educational for children including one on food tasting. Not only did the children get a taste for sustainable food, but the adults also had the opportunity to gain an immense amount of education through master food classes and hands-on workshops as well.
Local vendors were also present and able to interact with the curious and food-conscious visitors. The attendees were able to taste the exotic foods and meet the people who produced them. This face-to-face, producer to consumer interaction is one of the most important and unique characteristics within the Slow Food community.There were numerous booths and tables highlighting the sustainable projects and products of food communities from around the world.

Coconut and Palm Sugar from Thailand’s Bangkok Green Market featured among the vendors.

Eugene’s own Megan Kemple was among the lucky delegates who attended Terra Madre. Kemple is Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s Farm to School Program Director and is highly educated in local, sustainable, and slow food. She was kind enough to share with us about her experience at Terra Madre in Turin, Italy.

I recently had the privilege and honor of being selected as a US Delegate to Terra Madre, an international gathering of food communities from around the world in Turin, Italy.

The parade of flags at the opening ceremony with 50-100 countries represented was so powerful, followed by inspiring speeches on topics such as biodiversity, education (by Alice Waters), networking, and energy.

I attended workshop sessions including: Engaging Youth in Agriculture, Edible Education, Climate on the Plate, and Guardians of the Ocean.  Most of the panels included speakers from different countries and their presentations were translated into multiple languages for us (via headphones).  The international perspective was refreshing.

I direct a Farm to School Program in the Eugene/Springfield area and for the state as well and so was eager to learn about and connect with other people and projects related to kids and agriculture.  I met a woman from Istanbul, Turkey who is a Slow Food Educator, teaching kids about seasonality of eating and cooking with local foods.  They also do  sessions with parents –cooking, sharing recipes.    She was at Terra Madre with another farmer who is propagating wheat from Mezopotamian times.  So powerful to think of seed from so long ago carried forward by the earth and farmers.

I met a man from Madacascar who is managing 10 gardens in Africa, which are part of Slow Food’s Project to establish 1000 gardens in Africa.  I learned that in Africa many of the children don’t have food at home, so when the gardens are built parents send their kids to school, knowing they will be fed.  The gardens are bringing kids to school!  

There were 200-300 booths of international food communities.  It was so powerful to see people from all over the world, 150 countries show casing their locally produced food products, and projects.  I also visited and loved the Slow Food Educational Exhibit “Foods that change the world” about the many challenges related to food, facing our world and local solutions created by food communities around the world, which are recognized as Presidia.

Did I mention the food?  There were also several hundred Italian food booths from all regions of the country.  The food was amazing!! 

I am so thankful to have had this experience!

 –Megan Kemple

Terra Madre was first organized by Slow Food and held it’s first gathering in 2004 in Torino. It is made up of people who want to preserve the biodiversity, sustainability, and taste of food. Terra Madre’s purpose is “To give voice and visibility to the rural food producers who populate our world. To raise their awareness, as well as that of the population at large, of the value of their work. To sustain their ability to work under the best conditions, for all of our good and for the good of the planet” (Who We Are, Terra Madre). By rallying public, local, regional, and national institutions, Slow Food has been able to broaden the scope of Terra Madre and continue to unite a lavish food community.
Also, don’t forget to mark your calenders! Terra Madre Day is December 10, 2012!
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