Today was the first full day of conference sessions, and my last day at Terra Madre. I am now totally immersed in this world of food, just in time to leave. :(
The impromptu and formal markets are amazing. The first photo shows the informal market in foreground, with the yellow/red booths of formal market in rear. The second photos shows a formal booth of Gorganu citrus products from the Foggio region of Italy. The third photo shows some traditional, yummy peppers from the Turin/Peidmont region.
I have met producers from Brazil, Bangladesh, Basque region of Spain, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Kenya, Poland, South Africa, Italy, and on and on. The food booths are like windows in to our past, with traditional food being offered with the stories of their production and history. I tried some traditional Uzbekistan bread. While it may have not been the best tasting bread, the fact that it was made with the same ingredients in the same recipe that has been used for centuries connected my palate directly with history. That bread is more memorable than any modern loaf that includes modern ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.
The first conference session I attended was entitled "Producing Quality with Dignity"; a comparison of participative approaches to improving small scale agriculture. A gentleman from Brazil enlightened me about Participative Certification: the notion that you get producers and consumers to commit to a set of certifiable criteria that enrich the local food system. A very intriguing extension of Carlo Petrini's notion that consumers are co-producers. A woman from Israel discussed an innovative direct marketing method between Israelis and Palestinians that was basically a CSA project across this divided land. A woman from the Italian trade bureau ICEE spoke about supporting trade networks around the world, supply chain certification (like Food Alliance certifying distributors), and a clarifying notion about how to move forward in the face of uncertainty; that the confusion of which road to take can be clarified through collaborative partnerships, strategic alliances, and/or strategic networks. In other words, when facing uncertainty of what to do next, work with others and move forward together from a stronger, collaborative position. This can reduce risk since one group is not moving forward alone. Reminds me of the Good Food Coalition we have emerging in WA state.
The second session I attended was to discuss the "Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security". This Manifesto presents a series of actions we can take to ensure that food security is considered during the drafting of climate change intitiatives. Vandana Shiva co-authored the manifesto and emphasized that the time is right to change the paradigm that underlies our economic considerations, and urged everyone to sign on to support the manifesto at The International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture. The hope is to present support for the manifesto at the next meeting of the G8, and to place food security on the table for the 2010 meetings in Copenhagen that will lay out the framework for the followup to the Kyoto protocol. Please read the manifesto and consider pledging your and/or your organization's support.
I started in to a third presentation but quickly realized that the best thing I could learn was in the markets outside the conference spaces. Wandering the world in one place has become a mesmerizing experience.
Alas, it is time for ma familia to move on. Cascade Harvest, grazie for the opportunity to share some of my ramblings. Hopefully you have gotten a sense of Terra Madre, and how our little corner of the world is connected to a global effort to secure farms and traditional foods for all.