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Dispatch from Terra Madre: Floridian Delegates at the Slow Food International Conference

By JoAnne Bander | August 26, 2015
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Slow Food International

What kept Sunshine State delegates busy at the recent conference in Turin? A top-ranked mango cocktail, global moringa growers and sharing ideas with like-minded counterparts.

Three Floridians were among the 3,000 delegates at Terra Madre, Slow Food International’s biannual United Nations of small farmers and artisan producers, chefs, fisherman and academics from over 150 countries held in October in Turin, Italy. Attending were Kevin Anderson, coordinator of Ogier Gardens, University of North Florida, Jacksonville; Irene Jade, a baker and cheese maker from Delray Beach; and Gabby Othon Lothrop, managing director of Orlando’s East End Market and a southeast regional director of Slow Food USA.

THE MOVEMENT

Slow Food was founded in 1986 in Italy by Carlo Petrini following his protest against plans by McDonald’s to put a restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Today, with a membership of 100,000 in 154 countries, the movement is an international force that promotes the pleasures of locally grown, seasonal food prepared using traditional techniques. Slow Food also celebrates the value of small farmers, indigenous peoples and artisan producers; and catalogs and preserves food and techniques on the verge of extinction through its Ark of Taste and Presidia projects. Salone del Gusto is Slow Food’s concurrent fancy food fair focused on sustainably grown and artisan foods, wines and other libations.

The opening ceremony included live and taped addresses from Pope Francis, Michelle Obama, Alice Waters and other luminaries. For Florida delegate Kevin Anderson, the parade of delegates was inspiring. “It was very moving to see so many people in the same room with so many cultures represented. It really demonstrates how powerful the Slow Food movement has become,” he said.

Anderson’s mission includes projects like organic gardens to supply the campus cafeteria and transform eating habits. He’s now cultivating moringa, a tropical tree grown for its nutritious spinach-like leaves. At Terra Madre, he zeroed in on the Egyptian spinach molokhia, which he had already begun to grow. He was also able to connect with a moringa grower from Awassa, Ethiopia and a conservation biologist from Germany who had spent time in Awassa, where Anderson will lead a group of students to build a school garden.

ROUTE TO TURN

For 2012 delegate Irene Jade from Delray Beach, Terra Madre meant a secondplace finish in Slow Food USA’s first-ever Speakeasy Cocktail Competition, where entries had to reflect the values of Slow Food; use a Slow Food Ark of Taste product; and embody the regional culture of the participant. Jade, who loves to create recipes but is not a trained mixologist, used a shrub – a sweetened vinegar-based syrup – for her Mango by the Sea cocktail. Made from Delray Beach-grown mangos, the mango-ginger shrub became the base of her cocktail, which also used Florida Premium CANE Vodka, a handcrafted, micro-distilled vodka made in Tampa with Florida ingredients.

THE CATHERING

The Oval was home to Terra Madre delegates, foreign countries, indigenous people, Slow Fish and Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. The Noah’s Ark-like creation displayed 2,000 small-scale quality products, both fresh and processed, linked to the cultures, history and traditions of places and peoples.

Jade says she attended meetings in the Slow Fish tent, where, as a coastal resident, she was “happy to see Slow Fish making headway.” In the Cantina, the cafeteria for delegates, she gathered information on ways to grow the membership of Slow Food Glades to Coast. She also visited the Ark, where the shrub was included with eight products that originate in Florida: Florida Cracker, a cattle breed; Hatcher Mango; Hua Moa Banana; Dancy Tangerine; Pantin Mamey Sapote; Wilson Popenoe Avocado; Seminole Pumpkin; and Tupelo Honey.

Gabby Othon Lothrop of Slow Food USA had attended in 2012 as an International Congress delegate. This time, her goal was “to take more advantage of the exchange of ideas and contacts.” As a Slow Food governor, she strives to connect people to the movement by finding where food fits into the things they care about. “For some it is the food, for some it is equity and fairness and the environment. Food is the common language and Terra Madre is where all of this is best demonstrated. She met with attendees at University of Gastronomic Sciences (UGS), Slow Food’s University in Bra; time in the Oval; and navigated Salone with a graduate of UGS because “he knew many of the producers exhibiting and their history.” Her favorite: a honey producer from Sicily who was producing a Presidium honey from a black bee that was almost extinct.


{ Slow Food Miami }


ARK OF TASTE DINNER
Jan. 27, 6:30pm at Paraiso Bay Celebrate Ark-nominated Florida stone crab from George Stone Crab at chef Michael Schwartz's future beach club restaurant, plus dishes using local ingredients prepared by the executive staff of each of the Genuine Hospitality Restaurants. Tickets: $195 per person. Proceeds benefit Slow Food Miami's Edible Garden Program.
miamisarkoftaste.brownpapertickets.com

FRESHEST NIGHT OUT
March, Wynwood Walls slowfoodmiami.com

Article from Edible South Florida at http://ediblesouthflorida.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/dispatch-terra-madre-floridian-delegates-slow-food-international-conference
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