Allegrini 2018

WineNews interviewed Carlo Petrini: to overcome the crisis we need to focus on economy of proximity

Agriculture in rural communities is center front said the founder of Slow Food (and Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020)

The Covid-19 Pandemic is still scaring Europe and keeping the Americas staggering. It has literally overturned the cards on the table. First the lockdown, and then a renewed sense of the food we eat and the territories and cities where we live, taught us to look at the world through different eyes. The Pandemic has made us re-evaluate and re-discover our social, economic and cultural fabric, focusing on the major issues of the rural communities around the world, as well as the small rural villages and their products, explained the Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, to WineNews,
“One of the contradictions we face in this extraordinary, but also distressing moment, is that the entire distribution economy has concentrated on large-scale retailers, and partly on online distribution. Actually, we should implement an economy of proximity to overcome this situation. It is the only way to re-generate agriculture, and make sure that communities have good food available nearby their homes, while at the same time develop an economy totally different from the concept of consumption for consumption. Local economy develops an enormous wealth of relationships. We must consider relational goods absolutely the same as consumer goods and common goods, and this is where we will find a new economy”.
In these past few very challenging months, we have re-discovered the importance of food and agricultural production, which has never ceased to supply us food. “I hope that the value of food economy will remain”, continued Petrini, “and get stronger as new good practices are put into place. New agriculture and food rules mean not stressing the earth with pesticides and the excessive use of chemicals, having respect for animals, refusing intensive farming, and reducing CO2. All of these are the basis for a new agriculture and new food habits. Let's all together demand it as a distinctive element in our daily diet”. In our profoundly changed global scenario, the founder of the “snail” said, “Slow Food today is the manifestation of a network that involves 160 countries”, thanks to the excellent idea of “Terra Madre”, which includes thousands of farmers, fishermen, and processors in every corner of the world, who are trying to create, starting from their own sectors, a world that is more sustainable and respectful towards Nature. This network expresses itself in all its diversity, but also maintains a fixed direction, working for the common good”.
The Coronavirus is still with us, and more than anything it is changing our lifestyle, from the small things to our more traditional habits. For instance, no random hugs, no (or almost) short or long-range travel abroad, and events are more and more online rather than in person. “Terra Madre Salone del Gusto” 2020 is no exception, so, Slow Food has been reworking the event, according to new needs. Instead of the traditional 5 days, it will last six months (from October 8th to April 2021, when the International Slow Food Conference, sponsored by the Municipality, the Piedmont Region and the Ministry of Agriculture, will be held in Turin). The event will be held all over the world and there will be hundreds of initiatives, organized by the Slow Food Network, and of course, online.
The Network will be found in Italy and around the world starting October 8th, and above all, online. The conferences, Food Talks, Network Forums and a myriad of other innovative formats created for this edition and summarized in the topic, Our Food, Our Planet, Our Future, will be broadcast online. The kickoff is Thursday, October 8th (at 12 noon), broadcasting video speeches by the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the vice-president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Marie Haga, and the president of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini. Then, in the afternoon, at 5:00 pm, the event will officially get underway with the inaugural conference, entitled, New Geographies and Possible Futures, with the participation of Franco Farinelli, former Professor of Geography at the University of Bologna and Professor at the University of Geneva, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and at the Sorbonne in Paris, Paul Collier, director of London's International Growth Center (IGC), and Virginie Raisson, analyst in international relations and director of the French study center, Lépac.
In the first conference, we will discuss how to cross over national borders and unite people, starting from the ecosystem in which they live. This topic responds to Terra Madre's basic requirement to offer interpretations of what is happening in the world, as well as present an opportunity to think about how to guarantee a better future for the planet and those who live on it. According to Slow Food, the only way to guarantee good, clean, healthy and fair food for everyone is to protect biodiversity in all its stages, from the invisible level of bacteria to that of species, knowledge and cultures. We will talk about this, and how to regenerate the fertility of the soil, aware that we can change the climate even while sitting at a restaurant table. Larissa Bombardi, the key speaker of the Food Talk on October 11th will explain it. The South American teacher will talk about Brazil that consumes 25% of the pesticides in the world, spreading them especially on the enormous soy and corn plantations, i.e., crops destined to become feed for animals (whose products then end up on our tables), which require a great amount of land, forcing us to deforest large portions of the Amazon.
There are numerous conferences, not only the ones mentioned here, and many in person events up until April 2021, in Italy and worldwide. Even though the health crisis has created difficulties, Terra Madre has scheduled a full calendar of events and the appointments are not only in Turin, as it has been traditionally, but all over the world, touching 160 countries; i.e., those in which the Slow Food Network is active, which is organizing hundreds of local initiatives. Out of all the events spread throughout the peninsula, during the six-month event, the one scheduled in Bergamo on October 23rd and 24th stands out. Slow Food Italy, together with the Municipalities of Bergamo and Milan, has organized a meeting between the Italian cities that signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. It will be a valuable opportunity to discuss how to feed cities without upsetting all the resources on the planet.
The next not to be missed appointment is Terramare in Naples from November 12th to 15th. It will be a four-day event to discover the excellence of a territory capable of communicating both sea and land products at their best. There will be meetings on the world of Campania agro-food; an exhibition-market including about one hundred stands of legumes, zero-mile fish, wheat and its derivatives and many of the excellent products in Campania, including the Slow Food Presidia.
Since we are on the subject of Presidia, we must mention Open Presidia, the celebration for the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Slow Food project, which promotes biodiversity and protects traditional products that are good for the earth. The event will be held throughout Italy, on Sunday October 18th. Producers will open their doors and their processing workshops to let visitors experience their daily routines, taste the products and learn the stories of the keepers of biodiversity. On Saturday, the 17th, a conference is scheduled at Nuvola Lavazza in the Piedmont capital, as well as streaming on the platform, during which we will unveil our plans for the future.
Further, there will be discussions on food sovereignty, regenerative agriculture for soils, how to fight climate change, food education and food security the world over, from November 17th to 22nd, from Terra Madre Brazil, to Uganda, and Terra Madre Philippines, where Food Wise 2020 is scheduled on November 27th. These are the topics that Slow Food has committed to for over thirty years. The 2020 edition will be spread out globally, but Turin and Piedmont will always be at the center. In 1996, the journey of the Salone del Gusto began here, and it is from here that the 2020 edition symbolically will begin, starting with a series of events from October 8th to 12th. The kick-off is chock full of events, including meetings and conferences, dinners and tastings, visits to museums and companies, which will be the appetizers to the over 200 events that will enliven the region and the capital during the Terra Madre six month event. The selection also includes guided tours of Slow Food Presidia companies, Earth Markets, conferences, film screenings, concerts, activities in museums as well as food and wine tours, recommended by Slow Food.

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