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Stackyard News Nov 06

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    Wales Flies the Slow Food Flag

A delegation of artisan Welsh food producers and chefs have returned inspired from an international food event in Italy.  They were among thousands of delegates 'networking on a global scale' at a conference organised by the Slow Food movement in Turin.

terra madre

Led by Carmarthenshire co-ordinator, Margaret Rees, the Welsh delegation at Terra Madre included cheese makers, a top chef, and a farmers' market co-ordinator.  They were delighted to meet like minded and skilled people, dedicated to 'good, clean, and fair' production.

The group were also able to visit the Salone Del Gusto, probably the world's biggest tasting session involving artisan produce.  It is organised by the Slow Food organisation in conjunction with the Terre Madre or Mother Earth conference.

The two events take place every two years in Turin.  Terra Madre  was first held two years ago to bring together and build a network of relationships with all those concerned with artisan food production.  The Salone Del Gusto or Showroom of Taste is in its tenth year and is a feast for all the senses, attracting the rarest and best artisan foods from all over the world.

"The Welsh Food Community enjoyed exhilarated networking on a global scale with 6,000 other like-minded and skilled people", says  Margaret Rees who lives at Dryslwyn, Carmarthen.

"The delegation included cheese makers, a top chef, a farmers' market co-ordinator, farmers, breeders, growers, processors and a flour miller. The growth of this event in two years reflects the importance of a movement offering values that are alternative to the prevailing fast food culture.

Good Clean and Fair

"Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini explained at the Terre Madre inaugural ceremony that 'Good, Clean and Fair' was the phrase used in an attempt to simplify and explain Slow Food’s evolving vision for a sustainable global food system. It's all about producing and enjoying food on an individual scale, with regard to the environment and the culture of the region from which it springs. 

"Fair relates to the price paid to the producers world wide by the big supermarkets and the ideal that food revenue should be more equably shared. "The growing importance of the movement was underlined by the fact that this opening ceremony was also addressed by the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, as well as a number of international opinion formers.

"Another indication was the increased number of professionals and industry representatives from the food and wine sector who joined the thousands of casual visitors who came from the outside world to visit the Salone del Gusto.

"And for the first time chefs, cooks and university professors attended which completes the food chain from mother earth to food producers to cooks. Chefs are part of the chain of food communicators. Offering and making choices in taste and quality of products to the hospitality industry. Cooks in schools, homes and in the media are instrumental in conveying change in our eating habits."

Margaret added that the Welsh delegation had set up international tasting sessions on the Slow Food UK stands at the Salone del Gusto. They met major retail buyers interested in all the different flavours and the unique tastes of Wales – Carmarthenshire cheese, Welsh black Beef, Salt Marsh Lamb, Traditional Welsh Cakes, Bara Brith, Bacheldre flour regional honey, preserves, pates from Patchwork and Anglesey Sea Salt.

Nick and Pat Bean of  Manorbier, near Tenby, were the only horticultural representatives in the Welsh delegation.  They felt that sharing experiences with others from food communities all over the world, as well as from Wales, made them feel less isolated as they feel they receive little UK Government support.  

 "We talked with people from other areas, principally in the EU and from America, but in particular from the Celtic fringes of Britain and from remote parts of Scandinavia with whom we have many common problems", added Nick.

"Most of us are evolving our businesses to cope with the environmental and commercial challenges in a rapidly changing world. It was encouraging to find people from those regions who were determined to continue making a contribution to food production from areas mostly ignored by large purchasing groups and who are badly affected by modern trends in food distribution".

Gareth John, chef and co director of the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth, told a gathering of UK chefs that it was important not to cook separately for children. They should learn and experiment with adult food. He said it was wonderful to find himself among some of the best chefs in the world.   

"Suddenly you knew you weren't alone fighting to promote local food", he said.  Pembrokeshire Food Officer Kate Morgan who manages farmers markets said she had been overwhelmed with the collaboration from so many countries.

"Each one at a different stage of development not and yet providing vital inspiration. We were all links in the global and local food chain,”she said.

Jonathan Rees of Welsh Farm Organics, a Powys young farmer, producer and food processor was also deeply impressed by the experience.

“ Fantastic, awesome, inspirational", he said. "I observed the passion that there is for artisan food across the world, and realised that competition is so undeveloped and the opportunity is there for those who work with the ethics of Slow Food”

link Buyers Stampede for British Livestock at Eurotier
link Promoting English With Gusto
link Pedigree Boost for British Lamb
link European Focus On Beef And Lamb

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