by Terrylynn Brant

Slow Food International hosted the bi-annual International Terra Madre (Mother Earth) Convention in Torino, Italy this year. It was a great honour to be selected as an Indigenous Peoples delegate to the convention.

At Terra Madre one will experience the beauty and diversity of Mother Earth’s bounty. The whole experience is like setting the biggest international dinner plate you can imagine. Delegates from all over the world are excited to share their uniqueness and knowledge about growing, raising, catching, cooking and preserving heritage based foods from their homelands.

At Terra Madre thousands of delegates come together and man booths that represent their countries and the unique foods they have. The foods are generally heritage based foods that go hand and hand with the many unique cultures of the world. The delegates try to recreate their homelands at their booths. They will feature one or several unique foods that in most cases are only available in their small villages among their indigenous peoples and are passed down through the generations.

At the “Turtle Island Slow Food Association” booth we featured many traditional varieties of corn, chilies, maple syrups, wild rice and dried meats. There are also crafts, posters, resources, videos and cooking demonstrations held to introduce our indigenous food culture to the world.

The Turtle Island Delegation was very rounded and included North American Indigenous farmers, seedkeepers, chefs, academics, artists, youth, musicians and many involved in indigenous food security. We had a great time putting on workshops, cooking demonstrations, preforming on stage and talking and learning, many times through event provided youth who served as translators, generally speaking English, Spanish and of course Italian.

Slow Food was founded in Italy and is meant to be the opposite of today’s “fast food”. Many individuals around the world are concerned with the way mass produced processed fast foods are taking over the uniqueness and diversity of our dinner tables. The Slow Food groups around the world hold eating events and educational events to remind all about the importance of cooking and eating the foods of our many heritages. The groups also supports local farmers, hunters, etc. to save our local food heritage by reclaiming old world food preservation, cooking techniques and lobbying government for our right to do so. Every major country of the world was there showing off but unfortunately Canada and the United States were not represented except by the indigenous peoples who would only be known as Turtle Island Delegates.

For those who were interested there were also beer makers, cheese makers, and all week long workshops on Slow Food topics featuring international panels. It was an opportunity to hear about the state of various food issues from around the world and the many unique things being done to save the world’s unique cultural heritage of food while explaining how these foods have lasted for hundreds and thousands of years as their producers walk hand in hand with “Terra Madre” Mother Earth.