Terra Madre—Salone del Gusto

October 25-29, 2012


by Margarita Ramirez, Slow Food Sonoma Valley

Attending Terra MadreSalone del Gusto in Turino, Italy, will forever be a highlight of my travel experiences. I was one of five slow food members from Sonoma attending.  I arrived in Turino nearly five weeks after leading two group tours throughout Tuscany and Umbria. After experiencing the generous hospitality of my Italian guides, chefs and artisans, and visiting biodynamic wineries, olive and cheese producers, nothing could have prepared me for the explosion of the biggest gastronomy and food event in the world. The conference honoring the peoples and foods from around the globe provided an even greater demonstration of passion and commitment to cultures and traditions existing in Italy and around the globe.

energy and genuine fervor of the exhibitors drew us innot so much to buy their products, but to be part of their passion and conversations, if you were willing to linger and listen regardless of whether we understood Italian. The pride demonstrated in their products, from the small grower to the larger producer, was a testimony that food can change the way we eat.

I participated in several workshops and learned first hand how harmonious integration of land, animals and people can produce food of the highest nutritional value. The hundreds of workshops offered from exploring the ABCs of coffee; to vertical tasting of wines from around the world; to experiencing a five-star menu of Chocolate, Oysters and Champagne (all sourced from slow food producers) gave us more than enough to feel grateful for the abundance of food sources. I sampled many foods I did not even know existed.

At the heart of the conference was education and none other than the founder, Carlo Petrini, who had the original vision for it all. His newest project, 1,000 gardens in Africa, engages young people of Africa and encourages them to be self-sufficient. It is an example of the responsibility we have to assist other countries toward food sustainability.

What leaves
a lasting impression is the generous spirit and passion of the Italians for continuing to organize this conference every two years, bringing together world communities that are stewarding food for the future. I salute farmers and consumers   who are taking an active role in protecting and preserving cultures and traditional foods.

I will forever be grateful for attending Terra Madre and for the impact it has left in my heart and soul for the global mission of Slow Food and the work we all have ahead of us. Our job is to find the way in our fast world to live simply, enjoying one bite at a time.  This is food for thought.