Terra Madre

Last October, a magnificent gathering of 5,000 small farmers and food artisans took place in Turin. Organised by the Slow Food Movement and the Government of Italy, Terra Madre was an historic meeting to honour the oldest and most important of societies’ activities: growing and preparing food.

The colour, the diversity, the joie de vivre ñ the spirit ñ vividly revealed the difference between agri-business and agri-culture. Here was a tremendous demonstration of the incredible diversity of culture on our planet, borne out of small scale, truly sustainable methods that, as well as nourishment, provide identity and a sense of community for millions of people around the world.

There were people from India, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe, all with different clothing, languages, foods, united by respect for the land and a common struggle for survival. Workshops and presentations were held throughout four days on a huge range of topics, from protecting local economies to growing grains at high altitude. Helena Norberg-Hodge, with Becky Tarbotton from the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) were invited to the event, with Dolma Tsering, other members of ISEC Ladakh and the Womens’ Alliance of Ladakh.

Prince Charles made an excellent closing speech, highlighting the vital importance of preserving slow food, local food and sustainable agriculture in the face of globalisation, economic growth and efficiency. Helena Norberg-Hodge added that it was: “significant Prince Charles emphasised that Slow Food is Local Food. ISEC sees it as essential that the two movements colla-borate to create enough momentum to reverse not just agricultural policy, but the trade agenda that is destroying the productive, small scale agriculture.”

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