Slow Beans network expands internationally and meets in Bulgaria

Event to be held in Smylian from June 23 to 26


Slow Beans, the Slow Food network of international producers, cooks and activists who promote the importance of legumes as part of a healthy and sustainable diet, will meet in Bulgaria over the coming days to meet common challenges, address problems and share views for the future. “The main objective of the event is to explain and promote the importance and potential biocultural heritage of beans with concrete examples, tastings and conferences,” explains Dessislava Dimitrova, a Slow Food representative in Bulgaria.

The event will get under way with an international conference entitled Food Protein Transition and Smart Strategies for Territorial Development and Tourism, with the participation of academics and representatives of national and international institutions and the Slow Food network. “We will have the opportunity to explain why we at Slow Food think beans and legumes may represent the food of the future,” explains Slow Food Protein Transition project coordinator Ottavia Pieretto. Joey Enée will talk about the Nourrir l’avenir (Feeding the Future) project, which supports the introduction of healthy food to canteens, while Renata Lukášová of Slow Food Prague will present It’s on Our Plate and We Care, a project to update the Czech Republic’s state school canteen network, embarked upon in 2020 at the behest of the Czech Ministry of Health in collaboration with Slow Food. ”Having meals at school is an important moment in the growth of children,” says Pierettto, “because it helps establish healthy long-term eating habits. But this is only possible if mealtimes are preceded and supplemented by relevant food education with the active involvement of canteen staff, teachers and family members. This case study will help pave the way for other countries to adopt similar behaviors and guidelines too.”

The Slow Beans event, which will involve local authorities, experts and visitors, will stage a market hosting producers from all over the country, educational workshops for children, guided tours and visits, and international debates, with the participation of delegates from countries such as the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania and Turkey.

More on Smilyan Beans

Smilyan is situated in the Rhodope Mountains, where beans has been cultivated for almost 250 years, and has been home to a Slow Food Presidium since 2008. The Upper Arda Valley, close to the border with Greece, is a picturesque patchwork of meadows, pastures, arable land and coniferous and deciduous forests. In recent decades, the role Smilyan beans play in the identity of the local communities has been reappraised and revitalized. Each local family cultivates small plots of land that are now part and parcel of the landscape, and they all practice intercropping – with corn and potatoes, for example – avoiding the use of chemicals, hence adverse effects on the soil. The Cooperative for Support to the Agricultural Producers of Smilyan now boasts 12 members.

Slow Beans is organised by Slow Food Bulgaria with the support of local partners and institutions, such as Meatless Monday and the LIFE programme.

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