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June 17, 2019

THE FUTURE OF AINA

Aina is only three months old and she just attended her first Slow Food meeting with her mother Remi Ie, Slow Food Councillor President in Japan.

Aina had a very special role at our Council Meeting. Slow food founder Carlo Petrini carried Aina to show who we are fighting for—the youth.

By 2050 Aina would only be 30 years old but by then we may have lost so many species of food and wildlife if we carry on with our unsustainable eating habits.

No other person could best represent what we have been discussing for three days at the Slow Food Council meeting. Aina was a real live example of the youth who are begging us to stop the madness. It was so symbolic to see Aina and Carlo. The Slow Food movement was founded by Petrini in 1986 to stop fast food from taking over our lives, to promote biodiversity, and to help fix the broken food system.

To date, Slow Food has advocated in 160 countries and meets regularly at an event called Terra Madre the next one of which will be in October 2020 in Torino, Italy.

In between Terra Madre events, there are country events like Slow Food Nations USA happening in July 2019, Indigenous Terra Madre in Hokkaido in October 2019 and many other smaller events which are just as important though with a smaller audience, unlike Terra Madre which assembles thousands of advocates from around the world.

The council meeting is my second (during my initial term as Councillor for Southeast Asia), and it gathered around 48 councilors representing geographical regions, indigenous peoples, Spanish speaking people, communities who live in the Andean region, and Slow food youth and Chefs or cooks alliances.

It is at the council meetings that we discuss the future of the movement: to be in tune with the times or what we call Slow Food 4.0. We need to shift paradigms, be more inclusive, and continue to create communities that promote biodiversity to save around 1,000 species from being extinct or being forgotten. Our very own country, the Philippines, has about 56 species listed in the Ark of Taste catalog. It includes our heirloom rice varieties: kamias, kadyos, bukel, Benguet Arabica Coffee, Liberica or Barako Coffee, criollo Cacao, and souring agents like Batuan and Sua.

Another important grouping in Slow Food which we suggested is a women’s alliance within the membership. Many women councilors (21 of 48 are women) agreed to put this agenda forward so potential partners, donors, and advocates can help women farmers and processors be sustainable while propagating sustainable crops that are good, clean, and fair.

We need more visionaries, believers, and people with special skills to join the Slow Food community. This may be the solution to the scary future of food.

How scary? Bee populations are dying. That means no pollination or flowers which means no fruits and no Biodiversity. Honey production will no longer be natural if the bee populations continue to die.

How scary? There are only 30 species feeding 75% of the world. That means we have lost our natural biodiversity.

How scary? In 2050 maybe there will be a migration of about 150 million people looking for food. There may be civil wars because of food insecurity.

How scary? In the USA it takes 1500 miles for food to get from farm to plate. This means artificial ways of growing food to withstand this length of travel. It means food that is no longer fresh and good because it has to be preserved with chemicals so it won’t spoil easily, using preservatives and additives which are harmful to the body.

So, what do we need to do?

  1. We need to be mindful of what we eat. Make sure they come from sustainable sources.
  2. We need to develop and concentrate on our taste for food and make sure we go back to getting natural flavors from food.
  3. We need to encourage others to think of the future of food and the future of the food system. We have to help fix it now.
  4. We must promote good, clean, and fair food.
  5. We must promote biodiversity by asking (as consumers) for different heirloom species and listing them in the Ark of Taste so we don’t lose them forever.

What is the future for Aina? We hope there will be a better world where we can again eat and nourish ourselves with good food.

That journey starts today. Would you like to eat better food?

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