Terra Madre Salone del Gusto

A mother from Prague, a representative of the European Public Health Alliance, a member of the Diné tribe from New Mexico, and young man working for a Brazilian non-profit walk into a room… and discuss the effect junk food consumption has had on the populations they serve and how to combat it. Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, a bi-annual event hosted by Slow Food International in Turin, Italy, is the arena within which conversations such as these can take place among diverse actors from communities around the world. Catherine, our Programs and Policy Fellow, had the opportunity to partake in this incredible event as a sponsored delegate of Slow Food USA!

Terra Madre is a project developed by Slow Food to highlight producers thatvalue sustainability, tradition, and health, founded on the idea that “eating is an agricultural act and producing is a gastronomic act.” The Salone del Gusto is an opportunity for these food and beverage producers to share their products with thousands of people from around the world. While at the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto festival, Catherine attended forums and conferences on topics ranging from “Fighting Food Waste” to “School Cafeterias: Best Practices.” These engaging discussions featured panels of international stakeholders with extensive knowledge and experience in their fields.

Some of the most interesting and important topics and takeaways included:

  • Food Waste:
    • Approximately 88 million tons of food are wasted per year in theEuropean Union; the value of that wasted food equates to about 143 billion euros.
    • Large scale composting of food scraps and “Food to Feed” programs are proven solutions to addressing the food waste crisis.
  • Pesticide Use:
    • Brazilian water sources contain approximately 5000 times the glycophosphate levels of those in Europe. 
    • Deaths and diseases related to agro-toxin (pesticides) use are extremely high in South America. Reducing the use of pesticides and antibiotics will need to be enforced and supported by international governments in order to be successful.
  • Organic Farming:
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) reports on feeding the world sustainably underscore the increasing need for smaller organic farming operations as opposed to large scale industrial farms.
    • The European Union’s “Common Agriculture Policy” is currently undergoing revisions to continue to encourage organic farming practices.
  • School Meals:
    • The “Really Healthy Schools” program in Czech Republic is one of the best examples of providing locally grown, healthy school meals. This program directly connects regional producers with school chefs to create school lunch menus that are both sustainable and wholesome.
  • Junk Food Taxes:
    • Mexico and Hungary have both had measurable success in implementing sugar or soft drink taxes and seeing a decrease in obesity rates.
    • 1/3 of the Diné Nation in New Mexico is diabetic; implementing a 2% tax on junk food has resulted in an increase in produce purchases and overall improvements in diabetes management.

Learning about issues that the Food Council is working on from an international perspective was invaluable, and will certainly provide plenty of ideas and inspiration moving forward.

In addition to these captivating forums and conferences, the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto event also features an enormous market that showcases over 1,000 producers, about 75% of whom are from Italy, and the others from communities around the world. Visitors had the opportunity to taste and purchase Slow Food approved meats, cheeses, wines, chocolates, pastries, and other delicacies from award-winning producers. Learn more about how the exhibitors are carefully selected here. 

Thank you so much to Slow Food for selecting Catherine as a delegate to attend this amazing event. Learn more about the Slow Food organization here!