Terra Madre Day, December 10th, is Slow Food’s international day to celebrate local eating, agricultural biodiversity and sustainable food production.
“They may be giants, but we are multitudes,” said Carlo Petrini to the Slow Food USA Delegation on the opening day of this year’s Terra Madre Salone del Gusto. Petrini, founder and figurehead of Slow Food, was alluding to the recent Monsanto-Bayer merger in comparison to the good food movement.
More than a million people came to engage in this international gathering of people working to build local economies, preserve land and biodiversity, maintain regional and cultural food traditions, and stop climate change.
This past September I was among those multitudes – honored to be a Slow Food USA delegate representing Wisconsin foodways and pleased as punch to be spending my vacation away from Fondy Food Center to continue thinking about and talking about our local work, and how it fits into the international food movement. I’ve often said that Fondy is a great example of slow food in action; making good, clean and fair food more accessible to more people in our community while celebrating diverse foods and cultural food traditions.
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is simply unique. It is the largest food gathering in the world. Part conference, part food expo (picture the biggest producer only farmers market you’ve ever been to, then multiply it 100 fold and make it international) it happens every two years in northern Italy and gathers together farmers and producers, educators and students, wild-crafters and fishers, authors and journalists, organizers and activists….and lots and lots of eaters who care about the impact of their food choices.
In the past, local friends and luminaries such as Larry and Sharon Adams of Walnut Way, Will Allen of Growing Power , chef Dave Swanson of Braise , Martha Davis Kipcak of Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Lianna Bishop of the Urban Ecology Center, and more, have represented SE WI food communities as SFU delegates to Terra Madre. This year, I was joined by Jennifer Jordan, UWM professor and author of Edible Memory , Joe Sabol of Sabol Farms, and was incredibly excited that the new Slow Food Turtle Island delegation included Wisconsin based Dan Cornelius of the Native Mobile Farmers Market.
Even as a third time delegate to Terra Madre, the experience is so breathtaking in scope that it is nearly impossible to boil down to a few paragraphs or pages. Some lasting impressions include: listening to Winona LaDuke calling on the Slow Food US delegation to remember that it’s a choice between water and oil, that it’s all related to food, and that we must use our privilege to fight for the common good; sharing Wisconsin Hickory Nuts (both a Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market product and on the Ark Of Taste, not to mention easy to get through customs) at the USA booth with visitors from around the world; the Slow Food NOLA & Slow Food Vietnam pop-up event which highlighted two of the world’s incredible food communities fighting against climate change; sharing my grandmother’s Sicilian origin story (in my broken Italian) with people from Sicily and being gifted with food and books and many smiles and hugs; a meeting with fellow Slow Food USA folks where we made good headway in plotting and planning for a “mini-Terra Madre” on US soil next July – Slow Food Nations. (Check it out – you’ll want to join us.)
More than anything, I came away from the gathering inspired, as well as incredibly proud of the work we are all doing here together with Fondy, and in Milwaukee in general.
This Saturday, you can start your Terra Madre Day with a stop at the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market – finding local, diverse, and sustainable foods to celebrate with friends and family.
Happy Terra Madre Day! Wishing you bountiful times ahead with good folks and food.
– by Jennifer Casey, Fondy Food Center
Sharing a few images from my slow food vacation: