Slow Food International President, and author of Terra Madre, Carlo Petrini discusses energy, environment, food and democracy with economist and activist Jeremy Rifkin. The following are excerpts from their interview, which first appeared in La Repubblica (Italy) on June 9, 2010, and were posted on SlowFood.com last week.
“Petrini: My dear Jeremy, I find that there are extraordinary similarities and parallels between the new politics of energy you promote and the new politics of food we are trying to pursue with Slow Food. In fact, food politics must be based on the concept that food is the primary energy of life. If food is energy, then we must realize that the current food production system is a disaster. I believe that the two main ideas we share are the rejection of over-centralized systems and a return to a holistic conception of our existence on this planet. The real problem is that on one side there is a centralized vision of agriculture, made up of highly unsustainable monocultures and intensive farms, and on the other there has been a complete rejection of a holistic way of thinking, which should be innate in agriculture, and instead mechanistic and reductionist ways of thinking have been combined. A mechanistic view ends up reducing the value of food to a mere commodity, to simple merchandise. And this is why as far as food is concerned we can no longer perceive the difference between value and price: We all pay close attention to what food costs, but not to its deeper meaning. Additionally, with this system, small-scale food producers in every corner of the world have been reduced to a desperate state. We can’t go on in this way anymore. We must change the paradigm.”
Terra Madre; Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities is available in our bookstore.