What food should be

I had a bit of an emosh moment this week. It was at a parade with 7000 others to celebrate food that is good, clean and fair. There were 140 countries there, from places as far apart as Japan and Albania, Congo and Indonesia, Afghanistan and Mexico, and everyone was marching together for the sole purpose to promote diversity in the food we eat. The atmosphere was electric, flags were flying, live music playing, placards with GOOD, CLEAN, FAIR FOOD and VOTE WITH YOUR FORK and PROTECT BIODIVERSITY in so many different languages. Never have I been in one place, with so many people, from so many different backgrounds all petitioning for the same thing. It was so incredible.

The march was in Turin at Slow Food’s massive Salone del Gusto event. It’s one of the biggest events of its kind with conferences and forums on how we can protect the biodiversity of the world’s crops, ingredients and foods against the monocultures cultivated by a handful of multinationals. People come from everywhere to promote their local ingredients and dishes. I heard Japanese shamans, indigenous Nordic communities and Ethiopian tribespeople talking about their struggles to preserve their heritage against aggressive governments and ever-expanding industry. There were discussions on sustainable agriculture and beekeeping, and workshops on the diversity of bananas in Uganda and bread in Egypt. Alice Waters was there to talk about urban gardening…

The march, and the picture I chose this week, capture a moment that brought home what good, sustainable food is and should be – honest, unpretentious and local. At its core are communities everywhere fighting to keep their traditions alive. People who are trying to conserve their country’s ingredients and skills that will otherwise go extinct under the pressure of a globalised world economy. Good food is about supporting these small producers, it’s about promoting the richness of our local food heritage and ultimately, protecting the incredible beautiful biodiversity of our planet from vanishing altogether.