Themes from Terra Madre: A Journey to the Roots of Food

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

“Good, clean, and fair food as a universal right for all” drives the Slow Food International movement. Support for this cause brought a worldwide community of producers, chefs, students, and food activists together for five days in Turin, Italy in the Fall of 2008 for Terra Madre — the 6,000-delegate convention themed: “Journey to the roots of food.”

Farmers from Minnesota’s own Moonstone Farm, Gardens of Eagan, Callister Farm, Pastures a Plenty, and Loon Organics attended the international convention and gathered together this past Sunday at Bryant Lake Bowl to share their experience, a conversation sponsored by the Land Stewardship Project.

Described by panelists as the “United Nations of Food,” the convention encouraged attendees to explore and understand each other’s cultures through traditional dress (of course, the Americans were in jeans and T-shirts as compared to the colorful costumes of other countries), music, and food. Relying on hand gestures, interpreters, and “food as the common language,” delegates bridged language differences throughout the conference. This experience affected Gardens of Eagan’s Atina Diffley in a “profound and beautiful” way; she says that she realized although we are a diverse planet, we are brought together by the fact that “every species and life form on the planet eats.”

Social justice dominated the conversation — the need not only to make good food available, but to treat the people and animals who make this possible in a socially responsible way. A living wage, health insurance, and ethical treatment of animals arose in the context of “how cheap is too cheap to make food available?” Discussion also addressed the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, who are fighting for their right to earn a fair living for their tomato harvesting. It ended with the consumer challenge to ask ourselves “why?” when a product is offered for little money.

Additional Resources:

Slow Food Minnesota

Community Supported Agriculture