It would be very easy to be pessimistic at this point in time. The United Nations has warned that wildfires like the one that recently ravaged swathes of land in Australia, California, Europe and Siberia will increase by a third by 2050. There are more than 40 active conflict zones around the world, affecting two billion people, half of whom live in extreme poverty. As some regions of the world face increased food insecurity in the wake of the war in Ukraine, four companies control between 70% and 90% of global grain trade, and doubts remain over whether they disclose information about their stocks, which Increases market uncertainty. The pesticide industry is challenging any ambitions toward more sustainability, claiming that moving away from conventional farming will increase world hunger. And the list goes on.
However, many unfortunate people around the world work every day to heal ecosystems, nurture communities, build peace, and push for greater sustainability throughout the food system and at all levels of government. He has mobilized young people globally and clearly brought the climate crisis into the public forum. There are now an estimated more than 3 million community-supported agricultural programs active around the world. Indigenous and local communities stand up to defend their lands from aggressive exploitation, even if it means endangering their lives. There is growing recognition that agroecology – practiced by hundreds of millions of farmers around the world – can make a powerful contribution to addressing the world’s climatic, biodiversity, environmental, economic and social challenges. And little progress is being made on some policies, in some areas. This list can go on.
We are facing difficult times. This tension in which we find ourselves, between extreme weather, political events, and a tireless commitment to improving the world, should push us to act more effectively than ever before, wasting no time, tipping the scales in favor of the good, the clean, and the just. Food for everyone. I find that a Martin Luther King Jr. quote can help make sense of the competing tensions back and forth: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Change takes a long time, but it does happen.
As Slow Food, as we contribute our unique ways to bend the arc of the moral universe, we have the tools and passion to become more effective than ever: by joining forces with allies, embracing those who wish to join our cause and purposefully guiding us. Efforts to defend biodiversity and cultural diversity, inspire and mobilize citizens and influence policies in the public and private sectors.
You mentioned our unique ways of working. During my 10 years with Slow Food, comparing our work to that of partner organizations in Europe has helped me see clearly what we offer that others don’t – invaluable work of course. We are a global movement of highly motivated people. We collect all participants in the diet, with equal dignity. We perform many creative and influential actions all over the world. Our ideas are aimed at high goals but are always firmly rooted in the daily work and experiences of local communities of farmers, fishermen, food producers, chefs and activists. We are bold in condemning what is wrong but we are always positive in our dialogue with others. Let me return to the movement of passionate people: it is this passion that injects a vital dose of hope, practical solutions, and concrete actions.
Since it started with a group of friends in a small Italian town over 30 years ago, it is astonishing that Slow Food has now grown into a global movement active in more than 160 countries around the world. The drive and passion that made this achievement possible remain. If we’ve come this long, imagine how far we could be 30 years from now. As a new board, we have shared our vision for the next few years, which is anchored in the Call to Action (link), our guiding document. As we’ve made clear, your input will shape our future.
As we step into this new phase in Slow Food history, let us be proud of our heritage, humble about our limits and not waste time working together for good, clean and fair food for all.
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