Words and Photos by Carla Capalbo

“To cook is to be a revolutionary today” Olivier Roellinger

With a large part of the 5-day activities back in their original home at Lingotto, this year’s Terra Madre-Salone del Gusto was easier to navigate, even if some of the local colour and charm from Turin’s streets were missing. The Oval is Terra Madre territory, with contadini, fisherwomen and other small-scale food producers from dozens of countries around the world showing and telling about their native ingredients and foods. The Terra Madre Cucina featured a list of wonderful cooks and chefs from this network. I ate delicious meals from Algeria, Malaysia, Portugal and beyond.

As I have been to every Salone since the initial one 24 years ago, I now use Terra Madre as an opportunity to attend the conferences and forums where I can listen to the food activists, economists, climatologists and other expert accounts and learn firsthand what the challenges to our food production – and lives – are. This year’s message was an incredibly bitter and frightening one to absorb. (And it was underscored by the unheard-of high temperatures in Turin in those late September days, of 30°C.) As Amitan Ghosh, the Indian author who has written extensively on the problems facing his continent put it: “Climate change – and global warming – are the biggest thing that has ever happened in human history.”

 

Every conference theme reinforced this assertion. Whether it was the issue of climatic immigration, desertification of land, uncontrollable flooding, the harm created by industrial livestock programmes, the acidification of the oceans, the impact of cement-production on the CO2 levels in China, the fight for water and land rights…the message everywhere was the same: We all have to address climate change in a more proactive way, and we have to do it now. Or it really will be too late. The focus has changed from a timetable that foresaw the rise in global warming reaching the 2°C that the Paris Accord is seeking by the end of the century, to something much much more urgent.

“We cannot continue with this ‘business as usual’ attitude,” says Luca Mercalli, one of Italy’s most prestigious climatologists. “If we don’t make radical changes now, it will be 5°C by the end of the century and that means a catastrophe for humans and every other living thing on our planet.” Too many governments are in denial about this (including the USA, obviously, though individual states such as California have decided to take matters into their own hands and not wait for federal action). The problems are so vast that they can seem overwhelming. Yet if we react now, as many people throughout the world are doing, we may be able to at least slow the tide.

 

What are some of the solutions proposed at Terra Madre?

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