Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Report from Puebla

By Joyce Cellars
Slow Food Berkeley

Two weeks ago, 600 Slow Food convivium leaders from over 40 countries met in Puebla, Mexico for the Fifth International Slow Food Congress. It was an opportunity to plot the direction of the organization and do some housekeeping while drinking deep the draughts with fellow food and agriculture activists.

Tamar Adler, co-chair, and Gordon Jenkins, general wiz-kid, of Slow Food Berkeley were lucky enough to attend one of the most musical and jovial business meetings of all time. We’d like to share a few experiences from the weekend with you.

This Congress was the first one of its kind to be held outside of Europe, its location in Mexico a meaningful assertion of non-Eurocentrism. The culinary and agricultural traditions of Mexico are astounding; its biodiversity still amazes; the small, sustainable food and farming projects we heard about were humbling in their vision and execution. We were impressed and inspired.

Presentations by Slow Food activists from the world over reminded that worldwide, convivia are working to redevelop local food communities and establish good, clean, and fair food as a basic human right. It was invigorating to be reminded of this simple premise.

We learned that: activists in Italy and India are designing open-source programs to catalogue heritage seeds and preserve regional biodiversity. Farmers in Mexico and Bulgaria are resisting food globalization and re-opening the market for indigenous foods. “Nurture capitalists” in the U.S. are searching for ways to invest “Slowly,” morally and sustainably. University students are writing purchasing guidelines for their dining halls. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) like ours are reconnecting communities to their neighboring farms and creating bonds that trace the food pathways that used to feed us all and keep our communities secure.