Terra Madre Continues: Around the World, Slow Food Is Food for Change

Let’s cultivate solutions for climate change

My name is Tumal Orto Galdibe and I’m an indigenous herder in the Chalbi Desert in northern Kenya. Finding water for my animals is the biggest challenge in my life. We travel long distances, up to 1,000 kilometers, to find shallow wells for the goats. And if the journey is too tough the weaker and younger animals get left behind. For the last 17 years there hasn’t been enough rain and the pastures have been ruined. New and mysterious diseases are spreading among the animals, and parasites are getting more and more resistant. Every year, the harvest losses make it harder to feed the animals, which means that we have less milk and less meat to sell. The incomes of herding families are going down. There’s no question: Climate change is real, and it’s affecting us now. We can’t wait for the situation to get better. It will get worse. To deal with these difficult conditions, we have to travel further and further with our animals from the main grazing lands.

Tumal Orto Galdibe, Kenyan livestock herder

Most chefs don’t think or don’t know that global warming is linked to food. They think about the energy and transport sectors, about overheated homes, but they never make the link to food. But we know that the food system has the greatest responsibility. That’s why we chefs have a key role to play to help fight this phenomenon: We can imagine our cooking with less meat, less fish, more grains, more legumes. We have to be active in reclaiming the freedom of seeds and in encouraging agroecological models and livestock farms that respect the well-being of animals and the environment. We chefs have the responsibility of feeding humanity. Together we can oppose industry.

Oliver Roellinger, Relais et Chateaux chef

Oliver Roellinger is one of the biggest supporters of Food for Change, Slow Food’s global campaign to raise awareness about the relationship between food and climate change. We are calling on our global network and asking everyone to think more deeply and make even small changes to those habits that, all together, are having a drastic impact on the planet.

We believe that this awareness-raising is urgently needed because climate change is a reality with which we are already dealing, and few are willing to admit the seriousness of the situation. Scientists and climatologists are very clear: If we do not take measures to reduce global CO2 by 2100, the Earth’s average temperature could rise by around 4°C. The effects would be straight out of science fiction: less precipitation, but intense and devastating when it does arrive, more hurricanes, tornadoes and extreme weather events, torrid heat and widespread desertification. Some estimates show that a billion people could be left without water and 2 billion could suffer from hunger. The production of corn, rice and wheat would fall by 2% every 10 years, and 187 million people could be forced to abandon their homes and flee from rising sea levels.

Experts agree that we must all work to restrict the temperature rise to 2°C, the limit for acceptable living conditions on the planet.[1]

This is not an impossible mission, and we can all do our part. In fact, we in the West must shoulder the biggest burden, because it is our industrial food system that is one of the biggest causes of climate-altering emissions. At a global level, food production is responsible for a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (21%), primarily due to production methods that have completely lost touch with nature and respect for the environment. This is why subsidies and support should go to more natural agricultural methods. Instead, out of the €62.5 billion of European and Italian funding for agriculture, just €1.8 billion (less than 3% of the total resources) goes to organic agriculture. The remainder is used to finance agricultural models based on the use of fertilizers and pesticides.[2] And yet, the emissions generated by the application of fertilizers represent 13% of all emissions from the agricultural system. This is the most rapidly increasing source of emissions in the sector: Since 2001, it has increased by around 45%.[3] It is a paradox that our taxes continue to fund a system that is poisoning us and polluting the planet.

Another area where we can all make a difference, benefitting both our health and the environment, is meat consumption. Intensive livestock farming is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Once again, the majority of the blame lies with the West, where in the last 50 years meat consumption has quadrupled. On average, a European Union citizen consumes 80.6 kilos of meat a year. According to World Health Organization guidelines, 25 kilos would be sufficient. But if we could even manage to halve that amount it would be a huge victory. Average consumption in  Africa is less than a quarter of that in the Americas, Europe and Oceania, and Africa’s livestock protein consumption is just 17% of the recommended safe level for all proteins.[4]

Despite this, it is the most vulnerable and least responsible populations who are being hit the hardest by the effects of a changing climate. Entire communities are already being forced to leave their homes. According to estimates from the International Organization of Migration, between 25 million and a billion people could be forced to migrate in the next 40 years. Meanwhile rising sea levels will force 187 million people to flee from flooded areas (the costs of tackling the problem of the advancing water have been valued at around 9% of global GDP). If we also think about the contribution of food waste, which generates 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year,[5] it is clear that we need to change the current model. And food must be the starting point: food, the cause and victim of global warming, but most of all the possible solution and factor for mitigating climate change.

These considerations have led to the creation of the Food for Change campaign. Online and offline, it is based on the positive examples and solutions adopted by our communities around the world. But Food for Change is also a call to action, starting with the first challenge which from October 16 to 22 will involve Slow Food followers around the world. For one week, people will be asked to choose to cook using only local ingredients, to give up meat or to produce zero food waste—or to do all three. As an encouragement, Slow Food USA is offering three exciting trips as prizes, to Slow Food Nations (USA, July 2019), to Cheese (Bra, Italy, September 2019) or to Brussels to meet a chef from our Alliance. Based on the number of people who take part in the challenge, working with Indaco2 (INDicatori Ambientali e CO2, a spin-off from the University of Siena) we will be able to estimate how much CO2 equivalent will have been saved thanks to this collective commitment.

On our website (old.slowfood.com/get-involved/food-for-change-campaign/) you can already find not just more information about the data revealing the relationship between the climate and food, but also the results of the Climate-Friendly Diet study. Put together by Indaco2 with advice from Dr. Andrea Pezzana, a nutritionist with the City of Turin’s health authority, the study calculates the cut in greenhouse gas emissions that would come from a more healthy diet. Experts have calculated that choosing more plants and legumes and less meat and giving up processed foods would lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. In short, choosing sustainability and healthiness means saving 23 kilos of CO2 equivalent every week. What does that mean in practical terms? It means avoiding the production of greenhouse gases every year equal to those produced by a car driving over 3,300 kilometers. Given that every European drives on average 12,000 kilometers annually, this means that regularly consuming healthy foods is the equivalent of leaving your car in the garage for more than 3 months every year!


Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018 Press Office

Slow Food, +39 329 83 212 85 [email protected] – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress

Region of Piedmont, +39 011 432 2549 – [email protected]

City of Turin, 01101123602 – 3494162657 – [email protected]


Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is an event organized by the City of Turin, Slow Food, and the Region of Piedmont in collaboration with MIPAAF (Italy’s Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies). It has been made possible thanks to its many sponsors, including the Official Partners, GLEvents-Lingotto Fiere, IREN, Lavazza, Lurisia, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio Di Martino and Quality Beer Academy; with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione CRT-Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Associazione delle Fondazioni di Origine Bancaria del Piemonte, and Coldiretti; and with the contribution of IFAD, the European Union, and CIA (Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori).

Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it, and good for the planet. Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers, and academics in over 160 countries. 


[1] Figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific forum formed in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to study global warming. It is currently the scientific reference point for studies in the sector.

[2] Cambia la Terra. Così l’agricoltura convenzionale inquina l’economia (oltre che il Pianeta), 2018 report produced by Federbio, with the support of Isde, Legambiente, Lipu and WWF.

[3] FAO, 2012.

[4] World Livestock 2011: Livestock in food security, FAO, 2011.

[5] FAO, 2015.

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