Slow Food Toronto supported several Youth Delegates to attend and participate in Terra Madre 2014 in Turin, Italy this past Fall through a financial contribution. Our fundraisers, members and donors helped to make a magical experience possible for these youths – here are their stories of Terra Madre.
“I began my Salone Del Gusto Terra Madre journey filled with excitement, a sense of nervousness and anxiety. I was excited to try new flavours and meet like minded people, nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and anxious that I hadn’t done enough or known enough to be there. Little did I know the next five days would be a constant tidal wave of inspiration. My taste buds were in heaven. I was privy to tasting fresh in season white truffles, cheese aged in a cave in Slovenia, Jang (a Korean soy cure all) fermented by Korean monks, a six course meal made by six aspiring female chefs who each thoughtfully crafted dishes that explained their life stories.
I experienced food as an art, food as spirituality, food as tradition, food as politics, celebration and medicine. Medicine not only for our own bodies, but for the earth, the animals and social problems. All of these medicines involved the art of putting time, love, passion, and traditional methods into our food, to create real, great, slow food.
Learning about different initiatives around the world from 10,000 gardens in Africa, to urban bee keepers in Amsterdam, to fights against GMOs in Mexico, to youth soup discos in Germany has motivated me to be more aware of Toronto initiatives and get involved in them and promote them by word of mouth.
The most important thing I learned on this journey was that slow food is not a club. Firstly, it is for everyone, because everyone is a daily participator in our food system. But most importantly it is a movement created by like-minded people all striving towards the same goal. Putting a name on the movement helps create an easily accessible network of producers, chefs, and good old food lovers. This network helps to inspire and motivate us as we move towards our goal; everyone deserves the right to good, clean, fair, slow food.
On the first day of the conference all the delegates received a little notebook that had “I have a dream…” inscribed on the first page. At the beginning of the week I started to him and haw over what my dream was. By the end of the five day tidal wave of inspiration it was so simple. “My dream is to create a meal that has been nourished into existence by me. Seed to plant to fruit to kitchen to table.” I will continue to work towards this dream by being very involved in the world of slow food. I started off the week with a list of subjects that sparked my interest and ended with having a list of concrete activities and contacts to help these food dreams become realities, including apprenticing on a heritage and organic farm in Canada to wild foraging in Greece. I am so proud to be a part of this ever expanding, positive, loving slow food movement.”
“Maybe it was because we had gone 32 hours without sleep, maybe it was the sheer fact that after months of planning and anticipation we were finally in Italy but for some reason, emotions were high as we walked into Terra Madre’s opening ceremony. We arrived early, an hour and half before the ceremony started, and so we thought we were ready for what we were about to witness. we weren’t. The parade of flags belonging to countries Slow Food is active in went on for seemingly ever. Many of the countries were present, and so a small outburst from somewhere in the crowd erupted as each country was announced and their flagged marched towards the stage. We heard from people involved in Slow Food from all over the world, we heard from Italy’s minister of agriculture, Alice Waters spoke, we received a video recorded address from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and finally we heard an inspiring speech from the man himself, Carlo Petrini.
The following days went by too quickly to differentiate between. All I know is they were filled with interesting food, drink, and people from all over the world. We browsed the Ark of Taste and it’s thousands of food items, we chatted with Slow Food members from all over the place, and we tasted and compared food items from Slow Food countries the world over. For example, we tasted oysters from the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada. We decided, with some obvious prejudice, thats Canada’s oysters were the best.
Nights at Terra Madre were amazing. The Slow Food Youth Network stand played host to dance parties and gatherings almost every night. There we would sample drinks from the nearby British Pub or from our home countries at the SFYN Drink In. We would also meet with youth from the world over and talk about Slow Flood projects we were involved with back home. I talked with youth and 20-somethings involved with everything from the current Disco Soup craze sweeping the Slow Food world to Farmers and Permaculturists heavily involved with the “10,000 Gardens in Africa” Project.
One of my favourite parts of Terra Madre, though, was the North American SFYN meeting. The 3 Canadian youth delegates met with the nearly 20 American youth delegates and discussed the state of Slow Food in our respective countries. the meeting was heavily dominated by the Americans. they would banter back and forth about how Slow Food USA differed from California, to Florida, to Kentucky, to New Hampshire. They divulged that Slow Food is present on U.S. college campuses, holding weekly meetings and at least attempting to have a say in what the College cafeteria makes available each day. This is the only time I have felt inferior as a Canadian. I currently attend a well respected Canadian college and have nearly completed a diploma in Culinary Management. I assure you, Slow Food is not present on Canadian college campuses.
This is where I began to get reflective. What if Slow Food was active in Canadian colleges? What if Canada had 20 youth delegates at Terra Madre from all over the country instead of 3 from Toronto? how much of a difference could we make if we were as heavily involved with Slow Food internationally as the U.S.A. apparently is?
And I believe these are the next steps for us as Youth Delegates. Build on the already existing Slow Food Youth Network in Canada and get Slow Food into both colleges and universities. Make no mistake, Slow Food needs scientists and statisticians just as badly as we need cooks and farmers. Once this happens, we need to connect ourselves with the conviviums across the country. Slow Food Vancouver, and Slow Food Calgary, And Slow Food Toronto, and Slow Food Halifax need to be plugged into, and supportive of, one another, this is the only way we can maintain a stable and truly effective Slow Food Canada.
I spent nearly 5 hours at the Turin Airport the day I Ieft. I was among the last of the youth delegates to leave, but this allowed me to watch my newly acquired friends take off into the sky. I found a bank of seats in front of a window facing the runway. It was a very bittersweet experience. On one hand, these people had Inspired me so much, and I will never, ever, forget that. On the other, I may never see these people again. While I had all their email addresses, and facebook accounts I could possibly never interact with these people in the same capacity again. Yet as I finally boarded my plane bound for Pearson International Airport I wasn’t sad, because I knew that just like the plane I was stepping onto the Slow Food Youth Network in Canada was about to take off.”
The Slow Food Toronto convivium looks forward to seeing these youth continue to grow and learn about all things good, clean and fair and bring their knowledge to the community.