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Biodiversity of cultural knowledge for food system change promoted at Slow Food conference

Traditional and cultural food production practices around the world are key to supporting food system change, said Marta Messa, general secretary of Slow Food, an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking practices, during a a press conference held at the Italian Embassy in Brussels.

Slow Food plans to relaunch its food movement at the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto conference, the largest food network gathering founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. The biennial conference is in its 14th edition, canceled in 202O due to the covid crisis, takes place in Turin from this Thursday until September 26.

The Terra Madre Salone del Gusto will focus on how food systems can be improved by producing food according to the criteria of regenerative agriculture, which focuses on the regeneration of soil and biodiversity.

Over the past 30 years, Slow Food has created oases – called “presidi” – where to safeguard local and ancestral practices of food production using indigenous animal and plant species. So far, there are 642 presidi in 79 countries to protect artisanal production like those of British Somerset cheddar and species such as South African rainbow corn, American Navajo-Churro sheep and walnut of Brazilian baru. According to Messa, policymakers need to reassess how to diversify food production, which is now heavily dependent on industrial agriculture: “Biodiversity is the way to diversify the risks to the food system”, she stressed.

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The conference, which can be followed online, will be an opportunity for representatives to agree on new advocacy tools and share best practices in order to spread the “regenerative” message at the local level: “It’s difficult but easy to do,” she said, noting however that the risks for producers and activists located in certain parts of the world remain in place.