By Christina Allain, Slow Food in Canada Board member
From October 3rd-6th 2015, the Slow Food Youth Network held the We Feed the Planet International Conference to discuss the future of food and the planet. Over 2,500 youth from 120 different countries gathered in Milan, Italy, to gain knowledge and discuss about all elements of the food system.
This event was organized in response to this year’s World Expo theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Big players in the food industry such as McDonald’s and Coca Cola heavily sponsored the Expo, but there was no organization to represent small-scale producers. This led the Slow Food Youth Network to recruit young farmers, fishermen, chefs and food activists to raise their voice about sustainable food production, the future of food.
A total of sixteen young food producers and activists from Canada participated as delegates in the conference (see below for the detailed list of delegates). Matty Neufeld, a young chef from Winnipeg currently studying at the Slow Food Gastronomic Sciences University in Italy, lead this ambitious project with the support of the Slow Food Youth Network. When Matty learnt that the Canadian government decided to not participate in the World Expo, he made it his mission to bring as many young Canadian producers as possible to represent the country.
Matty Neufeld proudly waving the Canadian flag in front of the World Expo 2015 sponsors board.
Canada was definitely well represented by these young producers. We got plenty of attention from international press. Just to mention a few, both Ayla Fenton (Ontario) and Callum MacLeod (Alberta) were interviewed on camera by Slow Food International. Julie and Sean Keenan (New Brunswick) were approached by an international photography project that wants to showcase their farm. And finally, we’re in several photos in a Milan Newspaper: http://milano.repubblica.it/expo2015/2015/10/06/foto/expo_parata_contadini-124465146/#4
The Take-Away: Slow Food is a Network
We held a few Canadian meetings during the event in order to discuss what our group will bring back to our country as a result of this conference. In addition to producing food, many of us youth are already involved in other organizations that are leading food initiatives at both a local and national level. Many of these initiatives are working towards the same cause or even have some overlap. This just confirms the importance of the Slow Food Youth Network Canada’s role of connecting various organizations and individuals together, such as Food Secure Canada, National New Farmers Coalition, Young Agrarians, etc.
Carlo Petrini himself said during this conference: ‘‘Slow Food is not a political party, it is not a union, it is a network.’’
The Canadian delegates with Alice Waters, Founder of the Edible Schoolyard Movement and Vice-President of Slow Food, and Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food.
We at Slow Food in Canada believe that one’s willingness to get involved in our projects should never depend on their geographical location. In this day and age, it has never been easier to connect virtually: email, Facebook, Skype, etc. This is currently how we operate with our various committees. For any youth who would like to get involved: find us with our newly created group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/160734260938591/) or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to have more youth onboard!
Canadian Youth Delegates (from left to right in photo):
- Tessa Terbasket, British Columbia
- Maxime Gauvin, New Brunswick
- Laura House, Quebec
- Julie Baglole-Keenan, New Brunswick
- Sean Keenan, New Brunswick
- Lydia Carpenter, Manitoba
- Rylan Krause, Ontario
- Ayla Fenton, Ontario
- Christian Baxter, Ontario
- Bethany Klapwyk, Ontario
- Virginie Lavallée-Picard, British Colombia
- Kyle Lawrence, Alberta
- Patricia Lussier, British Colombia
- Rachel Purdy Mackenzie, Nova Scotia
- Rebecca Smith, British Colombia
- Callum Mcleod, Alberta
- Christina Allain, New Brunswick
- Matty Neufeld, Manitoba