written by Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
When the young Fukushima convivium leader finished speaking at the plenary dinner of Terra Madre Japan, held in Unzen last December 2-4, the attendees were visibly moved. Yoko Sudo, who comes from a farming family, has been living a nightmare since the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami hit last March. But she didn’t come to the Terra Madre meeting to ask for help. Her message was very clear: “We will keep fighting for good, clean and fair food and a new vision of agriculture, even though this will mean huge sacrifices and enormous effort for all of us from the devastated area.”
Her speech set the perfect seal on the Terra Madre event, highlighting the vitality of the Slow Food movement in Japan and its most critical issues. Over three days, producers from the slow network across the country came together to participate in meetings and present their products in a public fair, with the Japanese Ark of Taste products presented in a special display of wooden panels designed by the renowned designer Kosei Shirotani.
All the producers participated not only to sell their goods, but to collectively send a message to the media, authorities and consumers that environmental disasters do not come from bad luck or chance, but are a direct consequence of a flawed way of managing soil, agriculture, resources, energy and water. The second important part of their message was to show that another path is possible.
Among those showing the diversity of good, clean and fair food production were the remarkable local group of women from the Unzen Takana Vegetable Presidium, led by the legendary Setsue Baba and the Nagasaki convivium leader, Masatoshi Iwasaki, one of Japan’s organic agriculture pioneers.
The general assembly of Slow Food convivium leaders was held simultaneously with Terra Madre Japan and installed a new leadership, headed by the young new president Tsuyoshi Goto. Attendees included Yoko Kurokawa, long-time member and supporter of biodiversity projects; Akihiko Sugawara, convivium leader for Kesennuma, a town destroyed by the tsunami; Yujin Yusa, the general secretary for the Fukushima convivium, home of the damaged nuclear power plant; Katrine Klinken, Dutch convivium leader of Copenhagen Convivium; and Luigi Romani, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Osaka.
We hope that the new leaders will be able to give Slow Food’s ideas and projects the opening and public resonance that they deserve, so that the Japan’s consumers can begin to fully understand the positive implications of good, clean and fair production.
Terra Madre Japan was made possible with the support of the Unzen municipality, the biggest sponsor of the event, represented by Hidetomo Shibata at the event.
Designer Kosei Shirotan – who runs a ceramic school in Unzen that is creating innovative utensils for food and designs new forms of communication – is assisting the development of Slow Food in the Nagasaki area by providing his design services for free.
This blog was originally posted on the Slow Food International website, www.slowfood.com.
Immediately after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, Slow Food began collecting donations through its websites and international network. Visit www.slowfood.com/donate to find out more or make a contribution.