Slow Food

Terra Madre’s Closing Assembly

Italy - 30 Oct 06

The closing ceremony of Terra Madre took place in Turin’s Oval this morning. The speakers included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D’Alema, President of the House of Deputies Fausto Bertinotti, President of Slow Food International Carlo Petrini, Mayor of Turin Sergio Chiamparino, President of the Region of Piedmont Mercedes Bresso, physicist and economist Vandana Shiva, International Coordinator of the Network for Ecofarming in Africa Samuel Karanja Muhunyu, the scholar and writer Fritjof Capra, wine producer Marc Parcé, and the chefs Ferran Adrià and Teresa Corção. Sergio Chiamparino thanked all the Piedmontese families – over a thousand of them – who hosted delegates from all over the world; he also thanked all the residents of Turin who rediscovered the Olympic spirit of the city during Saturday night’s huge outdoor concert. Mercedes Bresso, for her part, discussed her pride in the global importance of Terra Madre: ‘The more developed countries have a duty, and a strong responsibility, toward authentic agriculture in the less industrialized nations of the world,’ she said, promising that the Region of Piedmont would continue to work to make the Terra Madre network even stronger. Evaluating the previous editions of Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, Carlo Petrini recalled how many things had changed. Initially, 75% of the exhibitors at Salone were merchants, and the remaining 25% were producers; now those percentages are reversed. If anyone thought, when Slow Food first began to address the ethical and political questions of food, that the public would shy away from Salone, the high attendance of the last few days belies that prediction. Terra Madre aimed to put food back at the center, as a primary element of life, along with farming. Petrini then urged the delegates to continue working toward alliance and dialogue with chefs and scientists upon their return to their own countries: ‘Remember that you are producers of culture, the defense of the planet is in your hands, and only you can strengthen local economies. The network of Terra Madre communities is not a hierarchical one. Heaven help anyone wanting to turn it into an association or a political party; its strength is in its freedom, in its anarchy, in the victory of emotional wisdom over rational intelligence. Here, we are learning to do the impossible. When the Middle East meeting took place, everyone was a little stiff at the beginning, but eventually they understood that they were all part of a large family. It is gestures, more than words, that have a symbolic, sacred role. Let’s hope that the 2008 edition of Terra Madre can restore the dignity and the value of gestures.’ Fausto Bertinotti linked the feelings of Terra Madre to those that arose during the assembly of Sem Terra, the movement that gave strength and a voice to Brazilian farmers. Citing The World of the Defeated by Nuto Revelli, the President of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies asserted that, over the course of thirty years, the farmers of the Langhe, who had seemed beaten down by history, were able to rise again. Many foods once considered junk can today be found in the dining rooms of the rich and in great restaurants. Bertinotti then recounted an anecdote about Cervi brothers’ father, who at one point found himself in the USSR discussing local agriculture: when people asked him how he would understand the Russian farmers, he responded, ‘Farmers speak the same language all over the world.’ He acknowledged the difficulty of representing all communities in one place, including the cooks and teachers and protagonists of Terra Madre, to decide on objectives and tackle challenges from now until 2008. Giving voice to the concerns of Indians and women was Vandana Shiva, a physicist and economist, who has always been on the front lines of the struggle for the rights of Asia’s farmers. It was she who proudly presented to the audience the Manifesto on the Future of Seeds, called ‘the first official document of the Republic Terra Madre Farmers and an alternative to the false democracy of Washington. Multinational corporations’ behavior with respect to seeds is food fascism, carried out with the complicity of the WTO and the World Bank. Every year in my country 120,000 farmers, indebted to Monsanto and other agricultural holdings, commit suicide. No one cares, because profit has become more important than human life. Agriculture lacks free distribution of seeds. There is fear of small, decentralized producers, who are being destroyed by absurd regulations. Terra Madre is a tool for escaping from these food prisons, through valuing biodiversity and respecting all countries; and here begins the agricultural revolution, without hybrids, that will respect nature and labor.’ Representing South American cooks was another woman, Teresa Corçao from Brazil. ‘In the Middle Ages,’ she said, ‘cooks were among the most respected people in the court, but ours became a profession for poor immigrants, until the arrival of the French, who were considered the gods of cooking. Thanks to them, we became aware of its importance, but today we are taking another step forward by becoming ecochefs, people interested not only in the technique, but also in the culture of food.’ Marc Parcé from France spoke with the voice of French winemakers. ‘Enough hypocrisy from the false defenders of the terroir, who believe that the consumer is ignorant. The future is in “equal commerce”, one that weighs the needs of the buyers and the producers according to the ethics of quality, respecting the traditions and flavors that wine contains.’ From Africa came the impassioned testimony of Samuel Karanjia Muhunyu, the coordinator of a food community in Kenya. ‘It’s an emotional thing to think that the seeds planted at Terra Madre 2004 have sprouted today, thanks to the care of teachers and cooks who share ideals. Today the only people missing are statesmen, but we will discuss the great family of Terra Madre with them during the world forum in January.’ There was roaring applause for one of the most famous names in cooking worldwide: Ferran Adrià, a Spanish chef, who came to Terra Madre thanks to his friendship with Carlo Petrini. ‘This event has allowed chefs like us to get in contact with the reality that we cannot know and apprehend from our kitchens. We are public figures now, and in our television appearances, we must spread the spirit of Terra Madre. And then we must help producers. It is a paradox that they have to export their products because they cannot be integrated into the menus of local restaurants. Food today is gravely ill, it lacks education, and the result is alarming obesity in children. The Western model is losing, because it places money rather than concern for human beings at the center. But you all are different; you are proud of your diversity.’ The Berkeley teacher Fritjof Capra concluded the technical speeches, speaking of the relationship between food and life, proposing the pairing of knowledge and flavor. Massimo D’Alema, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized how civility, culture, and history coexist at Terra Madre. Producers, according to the minister, are defenders of life’s quality and must contest the two great lies of our time: homogenization is neither progress nor democracy. Today, Slow Food’s message is no longer elite, but it aims upwards, for example, toward important countries like China. The task for government now is to construct an agriculture based on quality and sustainability, without the protectionism of the past. In conclusion he also declared that the time for unilateralism is over, and that markets must be opened into a mutilateral economy. D’Alema concluded by expressing the hope that good, clean and fair would not remain a slogan only for food, but would grow to encompass the political sphere. At the end, there was an emotional standing ovation for Carlo Petrini, who called to the stage with thanks Paolo Di Croce, General Secretary of the Terra Madre Foundation, as well as the representatives of the 1500 host families and 800 volunteers. ‘Now, dear delegates, you have become part of the Terra Madre network, and it remains for you to cultivate the contacts you’ve made the past few days. We give you neither money, nor prestige, but a great deal of self-esteem. If you have that, you will move the world. See you in 2008!’