Inauguration of Terra Madre

The second edition of Terra Madre was inaugurated today at a ceremony starting at 3pm in the Oval building of the Lingotto, Turin.
After a performance by the folk singing group Le Mondine di Novi di Modena, the first to speak was Paolo di Croce, the Secretary of the Terra Madre Foundation. This was followed by a procession of the flags of the countries participating, held by representatives from each country, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The official proceedings began with a speech by the Mayor of Turin, Sergio Chiamparino. He proudly welcomed the delegates to his city, and praised the ‘sane insanity’ of Carlo Petrini and his dedication and imagination.
The next to speak was Mercedes Bresso, President of the Piedmont Regional Authority. She described how the rural roots of Piedmont’s history were integral to its future. She said that a ‘diffused network’ can serve as a globalized bridge between producers and the market, and said that Terra Madre is ‘the internet of quality production in the whole world’.
Slow Food President Carlo Petrini then took the podium, and warned the audience that the planet is in grave danger, and the only way to change the current disastrous trend is to create local economies, following ‘not the rule of the market, but the rule of solidarity’.
The writer, founder of the Social Forum for Africa and former Minister of Culture for Mali, Amanita Traoré, accused Europe of forgetting a continent that was so close, Africa. ‘If my countrypeople are dying as they try to make their way to Italy it is because no one is able to give them economic and moral dignity. Africans love their land, and if they could they would return to live there’.
Kamal Mouzawak, journalist from Lebanon and founder of the Souk el Tayeb farmers’ market, summed up the secret of Terra Madre, an initiative made up of flesh-and-blood people, not institutions and diplomatic representatives, who can discuss the problems of agriculture and the environment because they experience them directly.
Ihar Danilau, the national coordinator of the Belarus delegation, described his country as being ‘without resources’ and how farmers like him have had to fight against multinationals. ‘Producers of the world unite!’ he shouted triumphantly.
Deputy Foreign Minister Patrizia Sentinelli was the next to speak, followed by the President of the National Association of Ecological Producers in Peru, Moises Quispe Quispe.
The California restaurateur Alice Waters talked about feeling a powerful sense of belonging to a global counterculture in dynamic opposition to existing values after the first Terra Madre. She envisioned a future in which children studied eco-gastronomy and learned where their food comes from.
The writer and University of California professor Michael Pollan spoke next, telling the delegates that they were here to represent themselves but also the species they cultivate, raise and protect, the sheep and bees and chili peppers whose biodiversity is in danger. ‘You speak for the species who are saying “Eat Me” ’ he said, and praised the chefs who are leading us forward in the fight against monoculture.
The Italian Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Paolo De Castro, was next to speak. He expressed his appreciation for the initiatives of Slow Food, from taste education to the University of Gastronomic Sciences, and described the danger of thinking about food as not closely linked to agriculture and the earth. ‘We must defend balance and culture,’ he said, ‘with knowledge and science, technology and humans, not against each other but reconciled together’.
The last to take the podium was the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano. He expressed how moved he was by what he had heard and also restated the necessity to defend culture and traditions — so much so that he left the podium and warmly shook the hand of Amanita Traoré.

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