Get Up, Stand Up for Your Food

From Jamaica to Cuba, new Slow Food conviva are celebrating their opening on island communities across the Caribbean this month, with activities ranging from a Mango festival to highlight biodiversity to a workshop on beekeeping in the tropics.

Slow Food Jamaica celebrated their launch last week with a Mango Festival on the world-famous Negril Beach. A variety of locally grown mangoes – such as the “Bastard Mango” from St. Elizabeth, “Green Skin Mango” from St. Andrew and the “Common Mango” from Hanover – could be tasted and compared, and passes-by could also learn about the history of mangoes and the traditional uses of the fruit and tree.

Slow Food has arrived in Jamaica thanks to the work of the Terra Madre I-tal food community, whose producers have participated in past international Terra Madre gatherings. I-tal is a Rastafarian word that refers to natural, pure, clean qualities in food and sums up their strict diet that forbids chemical additives, alcohol and meat.

The convivium plans to hold a range of events, with a focus on education about traditional Jamaican foods in order to increase awareness of typical products and dishes and generate enthusiasm among young people about their local food culture.

Cuba’s very first convivium, which was opened in province of La Habana this month, has instead decided to focus on working with older people as a way to bring influence and change to the broader community. Among their planned activities, Slow Food La Habana Germinal will be working with older generations to gather traditional recipes, and in two-way exchange on the art of preserving, that will bring together traditional knowledge with modern techniques to safeguard these practices. All of their work will highlight the link between quality food and sustainable development.

And in Puerto Rico, the country’s second convivium, Slow Food Boricua, invited the nation’s leading authority on beekeeping, Dr. Daniel Pesante to lead a workshop on tropical beekeeping and honey production at their opening on June 20. Around 50 beekeeping enthusiasts participated in the discussion on the honey bee in tropical and temperate ecosystems, management strategies for sustainable honey production without chemicals, and early detection and control of diseases and parasites. Pesante also spoke about Africanized honey bees, whose arrival in Central America has seriously threatened to the ancient art of keeping sting-less bees – as their honey productivity far exceeds the productivity of the native bees.

Bess Mucke
[email protected]

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