Here I am in a small cafe on a Greek island, Kefalonia, with sand on my feet and more ideas in my head than my fingers can handle. For weeks Team Origins (thats Kristen, Dana & Sandy) have been on the road, backpacking across Italy and Greece on our neverending exploration of food and culture. We set of on this journey to connect to the global movement toward good, clean, fair food, and first found this in Torino, Italy.
[[Wild fruit juices from Senegal. Date palm syrup from Morocco. Honey, mango jam and shea butter from Mali. Walking through the electrifying mosaic of cultural diversity that is Terra Madre, I have stumbled upon Africa. In just a minute’s walk, I may be immersed in the heavenly cheeses of Switzerland and France, sweet olive oils of Greece and Spain, even reindeer meat of nomadic Scandinavian people.]]
Terra Madre is a network of 'food communities,' bringing together players in the food chain who support sustainable agriculture with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity. Food communities represent a wide variety of social groups – ranging from whole villages to clusters of families, to associations of small-scale producers. At the event, each representative shares his or her unique product. The result is a sea of flavors and colors, an exhibition of the co-evolution of people and food since the dawn of humanity. These are the true ‘intellects of the earth,’ as Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food says, because they hold the wisdom of traditional food production.
This experience brought to life the idea that, more than physical nourishment, food is a network of people, places, products and knowledge. It revealed that food holds the power to bond together a global community with shared values. We were fortunate to hear the perspectives of food producers, experts, community representatives and youth from all over the world during daily conferences. They gathered around issues that have no borders - like food systems education, seed freedom and sustainable production & consumption.
And as luck should have it, we had several close encounters with personal heros, some of the greatest leaders of the food movement. We shared a meal with Vandana Shiva, an activist for biological and cultural diversity. We drank Italian wine with Alice Waters, who advocates universal access to healthy, organic foods on the national level (basically the reason there is a garden at the White House). And we danced with Carlo Petrini, the founder of the international Slow Food movement himself, the reason that hundreds of thousands of people continue to come together for a better food system.
We went to Italy to connect to this global grassroots movement and we did so without a plan - knowing the next part of the journey would present itself. All signs pointed to Greece. Now we're on this small Greek island of the Ionian Sea, harvesting olives & almonds, making olive oil, and learning how to keep bees! More to come. Stay tuned.