Next week, Carlo Petrini, founder and president of the Slow Food organization, will hold a series of talks on the future of food and the significance of biodiversity on a tour of several prestigious New England universities.
The same subject is also the focus of his latest book, Terra Madre – Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities, published in the US by Chelsea Green.
Petrini’s visit will include the following activities:
Petrini will deliver a presentation at Tufts University (Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy) to more than 200 people from the Tufts community. [12:00 pm]
He will then deliver a presentation at Harvard University to more than 500 people including members of the Harvard community and the general public. [4:30-6:30 pm]
That evening he will join heads of Harvard University for a dinner.
Petrini will visit Yale University. He will participate in a lesson with students from the university’s Italian language course (30-45 students) followed by a lunch with students from the Yale Sustainable Food Project which will be based on fresh produce from their farm which he will tour after lunch.
He will partake in a radio conversation with journalist, food editor and author Corby Kumner on the topic of Slow Food and Terra Madre, which will afterwards be available as a podcast on the university website.
That afternoon he will deliver a presentation at Yale, to 300-400 people including the Yale community, chefs and members of the Slow Food network. [6:00 pm]
During the evening he will join important figures from Yale University for a dinner at the Yale farm.
Petrini will visit the Union Square Market in New York.
He will deliver a presentation at Princeton University to over 300 people. [5:00 pm]
In his book Terra Madre, a conceptual follow-up to his Slow Food Nation (2005), Petrini takes a fresh look at his theories in the light of the ongoing global crisis and the dominant school of thought and development model that are its prime cause. This model has failed and is incapable of coming up with innovative solutions outside the global system it has created.
The starting point for these reflections is Terra Madre, the global network of food communities founded by Slow Food. The network is made up of thousands of fishermen, farmers, small-scale livestock breeders, but also chefs, academics and young food activists from over 153 countries who come together every two years in Turin (Italy), all of them involved every day in food communities in their home countries. This loose coalition of small-scale food producers is a new entity in the global panorama, and is poised to become one of the largest alliances at the service of the planet.
Food communities have a central role to play in creating a constructive dialogue between those who produce and those who eat, thus rebalancing the relationship between humankind and the Earth. This role is fundamental if we are to attribute the right value to food. Petrini asks us to regain sovereignty over our food system through active participation in food communities, which are a significant force in the revival of local economies. Food sovereignty must be rebuilt through an alliance between food producers capable of operating outside the prevailing school of thought and of working in a sustainable manner in harmony with nature and consumers
Universities and research centers play a pivotal role in the effort to maintain and strengthen a sustainable food production in collaboration with food communities. Through promotional and educational activities, event organization and exchanges, they can support small-scale socially and ecologically sustainable quality food production and defend the right to self-determination in the food sector, as well as actively participating in the education of the civil society and the training of agro-food sector professionals.
The young generation has gained an ever greater importance in the Terra Madre network. Young farmers, cooks, artisans, activists and students committed to changing the food system from an exploitative, unsustainable and unhealthy one to a situation where quality, diverse, sustainable food is within reach of all. Terra Madre 2008 saw over 1000 young farmers, chefs, students and activists from more than 65 countries coming together in Turin.
One project that combines the young generation and academics is the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Founded in 2001, it aims to foster a culture that draws meaning and pleasure from the connections among people land and food, so that students will go into the world knowing how to nourish themselves, their communities and the land.
“A university is designed to educate, and we believe that knowledge about food and agriculture is an integral part of the liberal education at Yale, “ says Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA, and former director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project.
This article appeared originally on SlowFood.org.
See Carlo Petrini’s full tour schedule here.
Carlo Petrini is the author of Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities.