Slow Food for Thought...

“Defending the earth means safeguarding biodiversity, the landscape and farming. Those who haven’t seen the importance of farming haven’t understood anything!”
Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Terra Madre Memories

Just one year ago this weekend, Northeast Ohio's Terra Madre delegates were gathering in Turin for Terra Madre 2006. Over the next week or so, we'll be sharing items remniscent of this important event. We'll also check in with our 2004 and 2006 Terra Madre delegates to learn what's new in our food community and what we have to "cluck" about. To kick things off, I'm posting this editorial by Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini that appeared in the Oct. 7 edition of the Terra Madre Newsletter. -KM

Something to Crow About

Where I come from we have a metaphor to explain why chickens produce eggs that are more in demand than those laid by turkey hens. Chickens cluck when they are laying, and this is how they “market” their eggs. They make themselves noticed and turkeys do not.

Our regions, the regions of food communities, are full of excellent and important products that are wonderful to promote. They come from fascinating traditions and we know it. Too often these things are outside of our network and we don’t know how to share them with others. Many communities despair in how difficult it is to find the right channels to sell their products, even within their own local markets. Because standardized products have become more international and available to the masses, local products with unique characteristics from their origin have been forgotten.

Thus it becomes necessary to know how to “cluck” about these products even in the regions they come from – to describe and explain traditions to those that are no longer aware of their real identity. It’s fundamental to allowing the products to be better understood and valued within and also outside of the community. It’s a crucial part of a strategy for local economies. In clucking, we tell a story and sell something intangible, the human and characteristic ways of life of a place, the lives that are behind these foods. In crowing, we glorify diversity and the special qualities of a region.

In a local community network, in a world where it is necessary for local economies to prevail in large-scale systems, it is diversity that can be most striking or fascinating. In terms of visibility and success, a community is best able to grow by focusing on itself and on its unique identity. This is because food is not only fuel for the body. And likewise, pleasure owing from exceptional taste qualities is not sufficient either. It must be conveyed always in respect to cultural diversity. If a community – not only the food community, but all of the local community – is aware, therefore also proud, and keeps its traditions alive and incorporates their own products into their everyday diet, it does not need to follow the classic rules of marketing. It will be enough to cluck just a little to make itself noticed because the community is acting as it naturally should.

-Carlo Petrini

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