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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Slow Food

Since 1996, the year the first Salone del Gusto was held, Slow Food has evolved and grown significantly, developing new initiatives and expanding its horizons. Thanks primarily to the institutional backing of the Piedmont Regional Authority, the Salone has always reflected these developments, so much so that it is now at once a showcase, a springboard for initiatives and a celebration.
Slow Food’s commitment to defending biodiversity (hence endangered foods, occupations, production methods and local areas) was founded, formed, defined and internationalized through the Salone. The Ark of Taste, the Italian and, subsequently, the International Presidia, the specific features of local areas round the world, undefended small-scale artisanal production, outstanding virtually forgotten products—these were the main themes of the Salone in the pas
t. People came, forged contacts and also, why not, did good business.
Now get ready for the 2004 Salone, which is up and ready to go. Our ‘festival of responsible taste’ has grown in scale and is now ready to host greater cultural diversity and welcome a more informed public. After highlighting wine, food, processing and consumption, this year we focus our attention on people. The people who are behind what we eat and enjoy, producing it with their precious labor, frequently insufficiently respected or rewarded.
The men and women who cultivate, grow and process what we eat: in short, food communities. This is the term that will be circulating at the Salone: round the pavilions, the Buon Paese Market, the Enoteca, the World Kitchens and the Presidia and Biodiversity spaces. You will hear it a lot because this Salone heralds a revolutionary new initiative: "Terra Madre – World Meeting of Food Communities".
Five thousand people – farmers, fishermen, nomads, artisans – will be arriving to Turin from all round the world to represent all the many communities that grow and produce food sustainably. They will come to Turin and Piedmont to describe their experiences, to learn from their counterparts from elsewhere, to compare and to analyze common problems. This will be a first, unprecedented attempt to gather together and bring to the fore people whose work involves a wiser form of agriculture based on the traditional practices and knowledge that are emerging as the most appropriate solutions to ongoing problems. It will also be a valuable experience for the for participants themselves, people who face economic hardships and for whom just to travel to the meeting is a considerable sacrifice.
In short, this year’s Salone, which looks to a future that one day we hope will materialize, will be more interesting than ever. And thanks to the people who wish it, maybe that future has already begun.

Carlo Petrini
Slow Food International President

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