By Sinclair Philip
In May, over 60 representatives from Slow Food networks in 17 countries from around the world met in Africa for the first time in Slow Food’s history. The choice of Morocco reflects the growth of the Slow Food movement in Africa. The meeting took place in Rabat, the capital of Morocco in mid-June where Zoubida Charrouf, President of Slow Food in Morocco, provided a spectacular setting for our discussions.
The goal of the meeting was to discuss and agree upon actions leading up to our next World Congress, which will take place in October 25-29th 2012 in Turin, Italy. This International Congress will be convened at the same time as the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre. The decision to hold these three events concurrently was made to facilitate the further integration of Terra Madre and Slow Food so they become more unified and mutually supportive of each other. A new constitution, or statutes, will be presented to the international delegates for adoption to reflect the changes within the organization.
Our activities on the local level remain our primary focus across Canada but, at the same time, we should not lose sight of our commitment to the work of the very positive and progressive international movement we belong to. In terms of our national and international commitment, there are three major areas of focus that all of our convivia and members need to keep in mind over the next 12 months:
Terra Madre Day, December 10th
Terra Madre Day on 10 December needs to be strengthened and we must draw more members from our Terra Madre networks into our convivia. This should be one of our major areas of focus in Canada in the year to come and Terra Madre Day is a good time to increase our membership from the ranks of small artisan food producers, butchers, bakers, cheese makers, winemakers, foragers, fishermen, ranchers, rare breeds advocates, small farmers, urban farmers, people in sustainable aquaculture, excluding carnivorous fish farming such as salmon farming, organizers of and participants in small farmers markets, First Nations food harvesters, and Terra Madre participants in general.
The Canadian Slow Food Meeting Next May in Edmonton
It is important that we have a good representation of convivium leaders and board members at our next Canadian National meeting which is to take place in Edmonton from Thursday May 3rd to Sunday, May 6th. In addition to electing a new executive committee and board, we also need to discuss the future orientation of Slow Food in Canada and the selection of our delegates for the next World Congress.
Our involvement in 1,000 Gardens in Africa, our own school gardens, communications, and events promoting small scale , responsible fishing, aquaculture and seafood consumption and Slow Fish need to be discussed. Other issues that emerged from our international discussions in Morocco were how can member countries organize events and activities to promote and share the Slow Food ethos including taste workshops, educational projects, youth events, farm visits, film screenings, markets and festivals.
Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto and the Slow Food World Congress, October 25-29th, 2012.
We need to prepare our delegation for Terra Madre, and the Slow World Congress, which will take place October 25-29th, 2012. Our delegate representation has changed in that fifty percent of those entitled to vote will be made up of convivium representatives, twenty-five percent from Terra Madre networks and twenty-five percent from Slow Food Youth. A new statute or constitution will be presented to the delegates during the Congress.
Other issues arose during this meeting. There will be a big drive behind ‘A Thousand Gardens in Africa.’ South Korea alone is sponsoring 50 gardens and aiming to support for 100. Italy hopes to sponsor 500 of these gardens.
Our next World Congress will debate and establish what Slow Food’s political orientation will be in years to come. The activities of Slow Food are becoming more political both nationally and internationally since our work increasingly raises awareness about sustainability and social justice issues surrounding the food we eat. The right to food and clean water in all countries, climate change, biodiversity, food waste, environmental issues and food sovereignty are all major concerns. It encouraging to note that Slow Food is now officially recognized as environmental association by the European Union. Slow Food is also trying to work more closely to create alliances with other progressive groups that share similar goals.
All in all, this was a very successful and productive meeting with great networking, which laid out a challenging program to take us forward into 2012 and beyond!