Edible South Florida — Winter 2013
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Slow Food Miami

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

JOANNE BANDER REPORTS ON THE RECENT TRIP OF FLORIDA SLOW FOOD REPRESENTATIVES TO TURIN, ITALY, FOR THE BIANNUAL WORLD GATHERING.

Wandering the crowded aisles of the Slow Food International Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin, Italy, October 25-29 was a large contingent from Slow Food Miami (SFM) and Slow Food Glades to Coast (SFGC). The local Slow Foodies' purpose: to connect their projects – school and community gardens, Ark of Taste tropical foods, taste education – to other Slow Food projects around the world.

SFM president Renee Frigo Graeff, cofounder/CEO of Lucini Italia, led the delegation that included vice president Hillary Scurtis and activists Serena Berra, Luis Robaina III, Carol Lopez- Bethel, chef Amber Antonelli and Chicago-based chef Art Smith, who introduced his Common Threads school nutrition program to Miami.

This fifth rendition of Terra Madre, a world gathering of food communities – farmers, fishermen, chefs, producers, writers, sustainable food activists – was convened to build connections and thinking about the interconnected fields of food, agriculture, sustainable development, gastronomy, globalization, and economics. Slow Food members were included for the first time as full participants in Salone del Gusto, Slow Food International's fancy food show of artisan products.

Selected as two of the 220 official U.S. Terra Madre delegates were North Miami's Kiah Graham of the Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network and Irene Jade, SFGC. Two of the 101 official U.S. delegates to the quinquennial Slow Food International Congress were Scott P. Lewis, director of education and Diane Campion, leader, SFGC. Also representing South Florida were Claire Tomlin of the Market Company, a 2010 Terra Madre delegate; garden expert Cindy Lasky of Barry University; and Noel Ramos, SFGC advisory board member.

The delegates joined thousands at Turin's 2006 Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony. The movement's gurus – Alice Waters, Vandana Shiva and founder Carlos Petrini – delivered the theme speeches. "We can unite our forces in the fight for sufficient food for everyone," said food and agriculture director José Graziano Da Silva.

SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY GARDENS Alice Waters, Chez Panisse founder and organizer of the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, California, moderated Grassroots of the Revolution: Edible Education. "When kids grow food, they want to eat it," she said. "The idea is to empower kids to decide what they're eating . . . and bring children back to their senses." Her words left Scurtis believing even more fervently in our garden program. "School gardens make an enormous difference in children's lives," Scurtis said. "Those children become adults and make better food choices which impact our communities." In 2007, Waters had addressed a coalition of volunteers, school personnel, gardeners and funders at Slow Food Miami's Edible School & Community Garden Program. Today, 120 gardens have been launched in Miami.

Internationally, Slow Food is responding to worldwide hunger by setting a goal to build 1,000 school and community gardens in 17 African countries. SFM is contributing funds for a garden in Africa and working to develop a pen pal relationship between children in Africa and schools in Miami.

PRESERVING ENDANGERED FOODS

Another Slow Food project, the Ark of Taste, seeks to preserve foods threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution and environmental damage. Florida foods include the Wilson Popenoe avocado, Pantin mamey, Hatcher mango, Hua Moa banana and Seminole pumpkin. SFM is now proposing the Florida seagrape and royal red shrimp for the Ark of Taste and undertaking the extensive application process. The delegation carried sea grapes, mangos and avocado to share during the swap. The diversity of foods from around the world at Terra Madre/Salone impressed Berra. "We're grateful to the Ark of Taste registry in helping to promote and preserve the wonderful bounty of biodiversity available in the U.S. and around the world," she said.

THE TASTES When they arrived in Italy, Frigo Graeff's contingent visited the Lucini olive grove, watched the olive crush and tasted freshly pressed oil. At Salone, they compared Lucini oil with artisan oils from Italy and other Mediterranean countries. "Terra Madre further emphasized how important it is to cultivate fresh food and keep our traditions alive," said Frigo Graeff. "I was inspired by the passionate artisan producers."
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