The Future of Slow Food from Slow Food Nations: Let Young Leaders be the Voice of Change

What is the Future of Slow Food? This is the question that surrounded the intensive day of work and discussions at the Leader Summit during Slow Food Nations 2019, a day dedicated to more than 350 Slow Food activists coming from all over the United States as well as some guests from Uganda, Kenya, and Burkina Faso. The aim of the day was to go beyond local communities and to connect with the national and global movement that aims to have Good, Clean and Fair Food for All. A day to step back in order to look forward.

We all have heard in the news lately the alarming prediction about the future of our planet: we only have 10 years left to avoid its collapse. So how can Slow Food contribute to turn this tide? With a simple yet paramount factor: Food. Let’s just think that the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations General Assembly for the year 2030 have one element in common… could you guess? Yes, it’s food. What Slow Food has been saying for the last 30 years has finally been officially recognized. Yet, a recent UN’s report shows that more than 820 million people in the world were still going hungry in 2018, and it is estimated that over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. So, a lot of work still needs to be done. But in this state of alarm, Slow Food needs to be the good news.

Starting from this thought, all the delegates participated and brought their inputs into the discussion about the future of the movement. The day started with a keynote conversion on tradition and innovation with Alice Waters (vice-president of Slow Food International, chef, author, and food activist from Berkeley, California), Ron Finley (known as the “Gangsta Gardener” from L.A.) and Paolo Di Croce (General Secretary of Slow Food International). The conversation underlined the paramount work of Slow Food and how each and every one of us has the right and the duty to change the current food system through simple acts such as our daily food choices. Delegates from Turtle Island, an integral part of the Slow Food movement, shared their strategies and thoughts about the future of the movement as well. They will broaden the conversation on this next October, when they will attend Indigenous Terra Madre Asia & Pan-Pacific in Ainu Mosir (Japan).

“The vision that Slow Food activists must keep in mind for the future is Good, Clean and Fair Food for All” – says Paolo di Croce. “Slow Food needs new communities, new allies and new friendships at a local level in order to create the multitude needed to change the food system at a global level, step by step, slowly but steadily.” The closing remarks of the day underlined that the future of the movement needs to follow this direction also thorough the voice of two young leaders of Slow Food, John Kariuki from Kenya and John Kiwagalo from Uganda. Their dedication and passion created concrete positive results in their countries.

That is the real asset of Slow Food: we are everywhere. Big companies might control the biggest channels of communication, but Slow Food activists can go and talk directly to people all over the world, showing their passion, their stories and their commitment and explaining why Slow Food is essential for the future of the planet. We can change the world, one person at the time. Slow Food already knows what the key ingredients for a positive change are and is working on it: the right message, a network of small-scale sustainable producers, aware people (as consumers) and sustainable food policies. Only by achieving great results in each of these channels we will secure our future.

One of the most important activities of Slow Food is food education in schools. By educating the youngest generations, we are creating the leaders of the future. Slow Food needs emerging young leaders ready to step into the game to make their voices heard to create a more sustainable food system

And what about the future of Slow Food in the US? Specifically, Slow Food needs a bigger and stronger network ready to collaborate to concrete projects and actions. Anna Mulé, Executive Director of Slow Food USA, affirmed: “Slow Food in the US needs to be a unique strong association. Slow Food is no silos: every single chapter is Slow Food in the US and we need to work together in order to become a stronger movement. We need first to grow our roots down by growing our leadership and deepening our projects; then up as new Slow Food branches and finally out to new people. Young leaders are starting to grow, so much so that tonight the SFYN network will officially be launched in the US.”

Ten years from now we could either be grateful to have changed our habits and helped save the world, or we could regret not to have heard the call. It’s so simple to make our part in this period of change just through our daily food choices: shop local and seasonal, go to a near farmers market, be curious, ask questions. Is that simple. Slow Food is working in order to do so, and as someone said today Slow Food is freedom… Slow Food is life.

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