Local food highlight of event

Local foodies will have an opportunity to mingle with farmers, food producers and chefs in a unique, intimate event being held for the first time in Vancouver.

Slow Food Vancouver and Farm Folk/City Folk are sponsoring this first annual event to showcase local producers and cooks who will serve up regional food to attendees. This Terra Madre styled event will take place on the evening of Dec. 10 at the Italian Cultural Centre. A Red Fife wheat bake-off will be part of the event as well as entertainment and information on food issues and education, like seed sovereignty and security. On the same day, other events will be taking place around the world.

According to its website, Terra Madre (Mother Earth in English) is a food community network that brings together small players in the food chain who support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity. In 2004, it started holding an international meeting in Italy every two years to bring people together in person.

Heather Pritchard has been a farmer for 25 years and is executive director of Farm Folk/City Folk, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization interested in agriculture issues like food security, supply and community development. She has been to all three of the worldwide Terra Madre meetings.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Pritchard said by telephone about the upcoming local event, which will be both celebratory and educational, adding that she thinks it’s a perfect partnership with Slow Food Vancouver to show the city what Terra Madre is all about.

She said Terra Madre sees the world in terms of food communities, which they define as any group of people who get together around food, mostly the growing and processing, either from a geographic area or product, like cheesemakers of BC Farm Folk/City Folk is a food community in its own right since it is connected with farmers, producers and chefs all across B.C.

Joanne MacKinnon is a volunteer organizer with Slow Food Vancouver. She became involved with the organization after attending an event in Bellingham, Washington.

“We’re preserving foods that are marginalized and facing extinction. Certain foods are disappearing, along with the knowledge and skills about how to make [them],” MacKinnon said. Biodiversity is one of the main issues for Terra Madre, along with sustainable farming and climate change.

“We want to recreate all the elements of the Terra Madre and build momentum for 2010,” MacKinnon said during an interview, adding that we are fortunate to live in a very agriculturally rich area. She said the proceeds from the local event and their “Adopt a Farmer” campaign will sponsor airfare for local people to attend the international gathering next year.

“We want to have more BC reps at Terra Madre,” she said, with one from each of the food communities, such as First Nations, bakers, chefs, academics, fishers and so forth.

MacKinnon said Carlo Petrini founded the slow food movement as a cultural response to the first McDonald’s restaurant opening in Rome. He said Italian culture wasn’t about fast food it was about slow food.

On the Slow Food International website, it says it “is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization…to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”

Other Terra Madre events are also happening around the world on Dec. 10. In Africa, the Ugandan Slow Food Mukono convivium is hosting a huge eat-in with shared dishes made from local ingredients to represent the nation’s different food traditions. The Kenyan Nyanza convivium is establishing a garden for indigenous crops and seed saving. In Cuba, the Las Terrazas food community is planting food trees, hosting local farmers for lunch and showing films.

For more information about the Vancouver event, see www.slowfoodvancouver.com or www.ffcf.bc.ca.

About Kerry Hall

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