Saturday, December 10, 2011

Terra Madre Day

Today, December 10, 2011, marks the third of  "Terra Madre Day", celebrating eating locally. What, you ask, is this all about? and what does it have to do with us here in the alps and for you, wherever you might be? Well, whatever you want it to be or nothing at all. Terra Madre is an off shoot organization of the "Slow Food" movement that was born in 1986, in the Langhe, which is a little over an hour away from us here in Val Chisone, in the neighboring province of Cuneo. "Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is part of a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members in over 150 countries, which links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment."  Terre Madre's vision is " working to create an alternative model of food production and consumption, in line with Slow Food's philosophy of good, clean and fair: good for our palate, clean for humans, animals and the environment, and fair for producers and consumers.   New to all of this? You don't need to "join" anything, just think about your food choices and try to bring them and your life in a lignment with what is not only best for you and your family, and the people who raise and process your food, but for the planet as well.
Why is all of this important to me? I have been intimately involved in the myriad of faces of food for most of my life, which included a college degree in horticulture and teaching and free lancing  my way through said college catering with vegetarian d and natural foods with a collective of like minded women. Cooking and baking my way through most stages of my life, food has and remains to me a fundamental passion not only what I eat and where I source it, but also how it is produced, it's impact on the environment and availability to everyone. Food, is an intimate and daily experience that can gather us round the table to share our daily bread, banter about the latest trivia, recent world events or the more profound subjects of our lives or it can be a solitary ritual to keep the body going. Food has so many faces and roles that it plays in our daily life and in the economics of our world. It is truly amazing how one whiff  of a particular aroma can  bring memories crashing forward that were seemingly  languishing in the quiet recesses of our minds. 
So today, why not celebrate your local food and it's producers in whatever way you think best. Most market days you'll find us celebrating what our local growers have raised and  brought from their fields that will eventually make it to our table. 


We had to the good fortune to listen to Carlo Petrini speak last week in Torino at an intimate gathering at Torino's IED, school of design. Carlo is one of the founders of Slow Food and has become the most recognizable face and voice of the organization. I find him to be quite personable and entertaining as a speaker, as I have heard him speak on various occasions in the area. This time he challenged the young people and the rest of us to be innovative and use all the resources that are available to us to in new ways to bring change and to connect us to one another through our food and food systems. He spoke about how Slow Food is a continually evolving organization as more people bring more issues to the able as well as more resources. He spoke about the Pollenzo school of Gastronomical Sciences , whom we have been involved with, changing their focus to begin add actual food skills as part of the degrees, like cheese making and baking to preserve traditions from being lost. These are two programs close to my heart and very happy to hear this indeed.  The other program he introduced was their project to bring "A Thousand Gardens in Africa" to 25 countries in Africa. A practical hands on experience starting in the schools giving critically insufficient acces to land and developing skills and experience to help grow food that is so vital in developing countries especially. It was a great talk and an interesting  evening out in Turin. 
So when you sit down to your next meal, why not think about where your food arrived from and who benefits from your choice of food. It might bring about some interesting dining room conversations and push you to think globally and act locally. Shop local and support the small businesses. They little businesses will really feel the difference and I think you will too. 
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