For the last five days, a half a million people have gathered for Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. The annual Slow Food event digs into and celebrates international food culture with an eye toward the heritage, the social, and the environmental impact of food systems.
Terra Madre is arguably the single most significant food event in the world. Through education and interaction, it brings awareness to the strengths and weaknesses of our global food systems. “The future of food is our future,” says Paolo Di Croce, Secretary General of Slow Food International. “If we continue to eat as we do, there is no future for our planet.”
Terra Madre is also the framework with which Slow Food, an organization founded in Italy in 1986 that’s dedicated to regaining control of our broken food systems and championing small-scale farmers and artisan producers, is using to launch its next major event: Slow Food Nations. And here’s the exciting thing, the gathering will take place in Denver next July 14–16.
Part street festival, academic conference, and global bazaar, when the three-day festival kicks off next year, it will effectively designate the Mile High City the center of the North American food universe.
The event, which will pull producers and thought leaders from throughout the continent, will offer tactile learning, tastings, workshops, dine arounds, and cooking demos that will be integrated into the fabric of the city. This is not a preachy, sterile event held inside a bubble of sterile conference rooms, rather Slow Food Nations will be as much a conversation about real food as it will be a celebration of Denver.
“The food fjord communities are not just on the coasts,” says Richard McCarthy, Slow Food USA executive director. “We looked at who is leading the way. There is an inventiveness in the middle of the country that’s leading the way in food and identity.”
The event is expected to reach 10,000 individuals in its first year—and many more in the years to come. In comparison to the half-million people experiencing Terra Madre this week, that’s small-scale but it’s intended to be the start of a long-running, and necessary conversation.
“If this is the country that created the fast food model, it can also be the country that creates the change model,” Di Croce says.
Currently, there are more than 300 U.S. delegates, including Kelly Whitaker of Basta in Boulder, at Terra Madre. Their mission is to provide new perspective on American food and offer a glimpse of the innovation and good that’s happening on our soil. The hope is that, through a dedicated web or farmers, artisans, chefs, and citizens, the world will begin to see the United States as a country with an eye toward fixing and reclaiming our food system.
For more details, check out slowfoodnations.com.