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Coronavirus. Support our local and small businesses during this difficult time. 

Brothers and Sisters:
As the entire world is faced with the concern of the new Coronavirus known as COVID-19, I feel it is important to speak to this topic with all our Slow Food Toronto membership.

This is a strange and difficult time. We are all concerned about what the coronavirus pandemic means for our health, our livelihoods, our food system, and our communities, both in the short and long term.

We hope that this current situation will not detract from the exceptional artisans, cooks, bakers, and farmers that work diligently to provide local, fresh and handmade items for customers every day, while supporting their families, and their communities.

We at Slow Food are trying to save the planet by encouraging people to live in a healthy and sustainable manner.

We invite you to Support Local And Small Businesses:
• It shows you care about your local community. The number one perk to consider, for obvious reasons, is that supporting local means that you care about the community that you live in. You’ll be able to put money back into your community and the other people who call it home, too.
• It shows respect to the business owners. Local business owners don’t have the funds to go big or go home, so when you buy local you are going to be respecting that they are getting out there every day and trying their best to make an honest living even against all of the competition out there.
• You’re helping bring character to the commercial world. The commercial world is full of companies that all offer basically identical options. It’s hard to find anything that is entirely unique anymore.
• You’ll get unique products. Unlike big corporations, shopping local is going to offer you unique products that will be as incredible as you think they will. You’ll find unique twists on traditional possessions, or entirely unique ideas that create products that you never even knew you needed before you saw them in that shop.
• They always want the best final result, not your money. There’s no secret about it, a big company is going to be all about the money. They only care about making a final profit so they can get richer and pay their shareholders a fat return on their investment. Not to mention that lots of them provide lower quality products that are less fresh and full of trashy ingredients. A local company is more than that. They’ll guarantee you a product that is the real deal. A reliable purchase that will promise you quality and a fresh twist on something that you saw by a big brand elsewhere.
• You are giving people jobs. There’s no question that the job market is tight these days, and by shopping local, you are keeping a business open (one that cares about you) and giving people jobs within it so that you can help the local economy in more ways than one.

When it comes to supporting a local business, you can do a lot of good even if you don’t want to shop there for whatever reason. Follow them on social media and make sure you share their deals or sales or announcements so that you can network and help them get a wider net for people who will be interested in shopping there.

We want to spend a moment to talk about basic and simple hygiene practices that, according to the CDC, we can all practice to help each other maintain a level of potential protection against the spread of any and all viruses, including COVID-19:
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if the soap is not available with at least 60% alcohol.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or cloth when you sneeze or cough
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Finally, a note of caution as Spring and Easter Break approaches to keep in mind these protocols when looking at family travel and these best practices.

In this uncertain moment, I have every confidence in our community’s ability to pull together with kindness, care and concern for the common good.

In Solidarity,
Luciano Schipano
President – Leader Slow Food Toronto

Together in Solidarity: We Stand as One Movement

from Slow Food

 9 MARCH 2020

The spread of COVID-19 around the world is having enormous impacts on our lives. In Italy, the government has placed all of the Lombardy region as well as several other provinces in the north of the country under quarantine, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Schools, universities, cinemas, gyms and other places of public gathering have been closed across the country. In our home town of Bra, Piedmont, the streets are quiet as people stay at home as much as possible.

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Slow Food Terra Madre)

“Until a few weeks ago, the bogeyman of the European economy was the tariffs the US government applied to some food products of the old continent, but today the expansion of the coronavirus has completely reshuffled the global papers. To make the economic scenarios gloomy is no longer an aggressive protectionist measure, on the contrary we are faced with an unprecedented situation that opens equally unprecedented scenarios. Stationary tourism, the limited mobility of citizens at all latitudes, closed schools and emergency hospitals are conditions that we have never seen all together and that at the moment no one is able to circumscribe over time. Not to mention the very object of the emergency, a virus that, although at the moment it still seems to be under control, continues to spread and has now touched all Italian regions and the vast majority of European, Asian and North American countries,” said Carlo Petrini.

Here at Slow Food, we are continuing to work on the projects and programs we’ve been carrying forward for 30 years, all while adhering to the latest government decree, washing our hands often, avoiding close contact, and being cautious when coughing and sneezing. We will continue to go ahead with our work to promote a good, clean and fair food system, strengthening our network and supporting each other during this difficult time. Our mission to promote the work of communities around the world will continue to drive our goals, whether we work from the offices of our headquarters in Bra, from our homes, and everywhere else we’re present around the world.

(Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Slow Food Terra Madre)
(Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Slow Food Terra Madre)

“So here is the time of solidarity and no longer of competition, it’s time to find strength to emerge not with the desperation of all against all but with a renewed solidarity of momentum and with the reconstruction of a sense of community that for too much time we neglected … A season full of obstacles and unknowns awaits us, but we can play the game with awareness and determination: solidarity, community and cooperation are the keys to start again. “

Our movement is not defined by physical location so much as by the people whose hearts are fully committed to fighting for equality and food sovereignty for all. We will use this situation to reinforce our human connections, rather than creating panic.

This is the time for solidarity, not competition. It’s the time to rediscover our collective strength, so that we may come through the other side of this difficult period with a reinforced sense of community that we the world has neglected in recent decades.

TURIN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 23: Atmosphere during the Terra Madre Parade during Terra Madre Festival by Slow Food on September 23, 2016 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Slow Food Terra Madre)

Happy Lunar New Year


With celebrations around the world, the Lunar New Year brings the spirit of renewal. Streets dressed in red and gold to signify the energy of a fresh start following the journey of the moon.

January 25 commemorates the start of the Year of the Rat, the first animal in the 12-animal zodiac cycle according to the Chinese calendar, and it symbolizes new beginnings.

The Chinese New Year begins with the first New Moon of the year, as it is based on the lunar calendar rather than the standard Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregorio XIII in the 16th century.

The celebration is enrobed in history and folk tales, like the one about the Jade Emperor who gathered 13 animals and told them he was going to name the years on the calendar based on the order the animals arrived during The Great Race. Only twelve made it, as the cat drowned on its way, thus creating the zodiac cycle.

 “In our community, Amis an indigenous community in Taiwan, we put a coin inside the dumplings. We believe that this will bring us good luck and wealth in the coming year. After the meal, we bow down to our elders and thank them for their efforts for the family. The children of the family receive red envelopes with money inside. Once we finish, we sit down to make dumplings together and after midnight we set off firecrackers and play the Mahjong (a sort of gambling game) until the next day.”

The Chinese calendar is based on astronomical observations of the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases. It is believed that Emperor Huangdi introduced it sometime between 3000 and 2600 BCE. The phases of the moon are an intricate part of biodynamic agriculture, and through the centuries indigenous peoples around the world have used the cycle of the moon to plant and harvest their crops.

“We sow in spring, the seeds develop through the summer and we harvest in autumn. So, on the day of the New Year, farmers gather together with their families to celebrate the efforts of the year gone by and begin preparations to sow for the next year,” said Kung from the Slow Food Community Hualien, Taiwan for the preservation of indigenous biodiversity.

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Tables overflow with traditional dishes like spring rolls, rice cakes and rice balls, and dumplings.

“Traditionally, we celebrate it with our father’s side of the family. My grandfather is from northern China and we follow the food traditions of that region, which includes baos, noodles and dumplings. We also celebrate with a hotpot in the middle of the table, it include meats like fish, whole chicken and pork. We don’t eat beef as cows help humans to work.”

It is also known as the Spring Festival, as it falls between the December solstice and the march equinox. Festivities usually begin the day before the new year and continue until Lanter Festival, fifteen days later.  Families decorate their homes with fresh yellow flowers and fragrant tangerine and oranges to bring good luck.

Photo credit

In the Philippines, for example the Lunar New Year is celebrated at the table. One of the most popular foods to celebrate is tikoy, a sweet treat made of sticky rice. This treat is essentially a Filipino spin on the Chinese nian gao, a popular rice cake. Some other popular New Years foods include fish, pansit, and boiled dumplings. These are all related to bringing good fortune in the upcoming year.

Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year, or ‘Seollal‘ in Korean, which is one of their biggest holidays. Traditional Korean New Year’s Soup is the star of the celebration. Tteokguk is a soup with thinly sliced rice cakes.

In China, celebrations include whole fish steamed divided in two. One half to eat on the new year, the other half to eat the next day. Many vegetables decorate the tables and bring specific meaning to the celebration. Among them are seaweed, which symbolizes wealth and fortune. Lotus seeds are a blessing for many children and a healthy family. Bamboo shoot represent longevity.

This is a busy travel time as many take time to reunite with family. This year the coronavirus has quarantined at least 20 million people in 10 Chinese cities due to travel restrictions.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year by planting seeds of change for a good, clean, fair food system.