Last week, the southern New South Wales town of Ulladulla played host to a convention focusing on the Slow Food movement. The movement, which aims to protect worldwide food traditions and customs, has been gaining momentum after several Australian foods were added to an international list of ‘at-risk produce’.
Speaking to the gathered crowd of Slow Food devotees, Paolo Dicroce, the general secretary of the International Slow Food Movement, highlighted the importance of a new initiative aimed at identifying and classifying regional produce at risk of being overwhelmed by the national food trade. As much of the world’s food production relies on several key strains of fruits and vegetables, Mr. DiCroce and others advocate for the long-term survival of less common breeds and plant species.
“It’s in the defence of biodiversity,” Mr Dicroce explained. “All around the world we are losing our food; losing traditions, losing varieties, animal breeds because of the globalised system which says we have to eat the same food everywhere. Ninety per cent of the apples we eat worldwide come from five different varieties, yet there are thousands of different varieties that are part of the history and tradition of every particular place.”
Mr. DiCroce believes that the register will help protect these venerable food sources. “So we’re creating a global catalogue to give them value. We have established 2,500 products so far, and we’re aiming for 10,000 globally,” he added. “We live in a planet where 800 million people are starving. Yet we produce enough for 12 billion people. We don’t need more industrialisation of food to produce more to feed the planet, but [we need] a different distribution [system].”
At the event, the general secretary also explained that Slow Food could provide much needed food security in an increasingly desperate environment. According to the energetic Italian, the future of food can be found in the most traditional places.
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