Monday, December 5, 2011

December: Terra Madre Day

December 10th marks Slow Food International’s signature event, when people from 120 countries celebrate their commitment to good, clean, fair food in an amazing variety of events. Last year, events around the globe ranged from a wild food festival in the forests of Java to traditional cooking workshops in Palestinian villages, to a solar cooker banquet in Costa Rica, to a mammoth eat-in in Kings Cross, London.

As you can see, Slow Food is an enormously variable concept, meaning many different things to people around the world. But what binds them together is a belief that locally sourced food is best; that traditional recipes, cooking methods, and varieties should be preserved; that those who produce our foods should be fairly paid, acknowledged, and supported; that bigger, faster, easier, and cheaper is not always better when it comes to what we eat; and that ceremony, family, and friends have an important place in the consumption of our food.

Among the most important of the many initiatives undertaken by Slow Food International is the 1000 Gardens in Africa project, a grass roots movement to create 1000 gardens across the continent to preserve local methods and types of agriculture. Gardens are springing up in villages, school grounds, church lots, and communal spaces. People are being encouraged to produce their own food in sustainable and traditional ways in an attempt to answer, village by village, the food crisis that is afflicting so much of Africa.

Here in Pelham, we are reflecting the global initiatives of Slow Food in our own small way. Members of Slow Food Pelham have been working with a local group home to encourage the young people living in difficult circumstances to discover the joys of producing their own food. By supplying gardening tools, expertise, and sweat, Slow Food members have helped these young people to produce a variety of vegetables and fruits in a working garden. For two years now, the small garden plot has yielded fresh produce… but more importantly, it has taught some young people the responsibility, the satisfaction, and the pleasure, as well as the hard work, of small scale home gardening.

One of the more than 1200 Terra Madre events that take place worldwide on December 10th will be a gathering of Slow Food Pelham members in rural Pelham at a member’s home. There, we will celebrate Terra Madre in company with tens of thousands of other Slow Food Members around the world with a tasting of Niagara wines and Canadian-produced raw milk cheeses. Although our event is small in scale and global impact, we are able, in our low-key way, to be part of an enormous movement that is changing our world for the better… Slowly.