In the year of the 30th anniversary of its Manifesto, Slow Food renews its commitment: skills, visions and abilities which demonstrate that access to good, clean and fair food for all is possible.
On October 16th, World Food Day, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is calling for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible for everyone. Furthermore, today the SOFA 2019 (State of Food and Agriculture) has been released.
The report highlights that “reducing food loss and waste also has the potential to contribute to other Sustainable Development Goals, including the Zero Hunger goal. […] In lower-income countries, where food insecurity is often severe, increasing access to food is critical; and access itself is likely to be closely associated with availability. Preventing food losses at the local level in smallholder production can both alleviate food shortages and increase farmers’ incomes, thus improving access. At the other extreme, in high-income countries, the priority is nutrition and quality of diet”.
“The SOFA report highlights how the problem of food waste is a global problem with extremely complex interconnections. A challenge that Slow Food has taken up over the years and that has led us to work with rural communities in low-income countries to improve their food security, is helping small-scale farmers keep the culture of their traditional foods alive and improve the local distribution chain through gardens and farmers’ markets” Edie Mukiibi, member of the Slow Food International Executive Committee says. “At the same time, it is essential to continue to raise awareness among consumers with good incomes, so that through their choices they can contribute to the change towards a more sustainable system, and to improve access to healthy food for everyone”.
In a world with an unfair and unsustainable system of food production, the importance of the two pillars of the Slow Food commitment, Education and Protection of Biodiversity, is increasingly topical. A diverse variety of crops is crucial for providing healthy diets and safeguarding the environment. The richness of biodiversity in nature can help us to improve the nutritional quality of food, and on this the network of Slow Food communities around the world possesses extraordinary knowledge and skills.
An example comes from the Indigenous Terra Madre Asia and Pan-Pacific gathering that just came to a close today in Ainu Mosir (Hokkaido, Japan). “Indigenous peoples’ food systems create biodiverse diets and practices, contributing to a healthy life and have many benefits: diverse and healthy foods, physical activity, contact with nature, sharing, community and cultural identity” Remi Ie, Slow Food International Councillor for Japan and indigenous Ryukyu woman, says. “In order to ensure the survival and the future health of these indigenous food systems we must be mindful of the lessons of our elders who practiced a slow, sustainable lifestyle for generations, and we must empower our youth by involving them, believing in them and trusting them to reaffirm the legacy of the ancient traditions we are passing on. The successful transfer of traditional knowledge is the key to a fulfilling, nutritious, and sustainable future not just for indigenous communities but all humanity.”
Slow Food Presidia products, thanks to production practices that avoid the use of chemical products, preservatives and synthetic additives, maintain the fertility of the soils in which the plants grow, as well as the quality of the feed given to livestock, which is richer in nutritional value than similar conventional products.
Cooks have also taken on the educational mission and are committed to spreading awareness about good, clean and fair ingredients. The chefs of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance in Uganda and Kenya are committed to using and promoting alternatives to vegetable margarine and stock cubes, such as dried Moringa oleifera leaves, which are very rich in vitamin C, or the toasted peanut paste called binyebwa, high in nutrients. Medicinal properties are a feature of many traditional products: the Wamiti Herbal Clinic in Nairobi (Kenya) uses the Ogiek Honey Presidium for the preparation of natural medicines, and in Arusha (Tanzania), TRMEGA (Training, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation on Gender and AIDS) in collaboration with the local Slow Food groups involved in nutrition education for AIDS patients through the creation of gardens. Another example comes from Mexico, where Slow Food is involved in a project to treat malnutrition in children with products from the Xunankab bee honey Presidium in the Yucatán peninsula.
Meanwhile, Slow Food USA is pairing up with the FAO to highlight World Food Day. As obesity rates escalate in the developed world, this year Slow Food USA responded to the FAO’s call to action to make healthy and sustainable diets available and affordable for everyone. Countries, decision makers, private businesses, and civil society have all addressed the goal of achieving healthier diets and #ZeroHunger. The Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance members will submit healthy recipes for kids, then Slow Food USA will create a simple recipe booklet, distributing it within school gardens networks and among Slow Food members.