“How ‘communities’ in their most classic sense must become protagonists again.” Back

“How ‘communities’ in their most classic sense must become protagonists again.”

Elisa Peirone of Slow Food answered some questions on their project ‘Food Heroes’ in our series of interviews with Culture of Solidarity Fund grantees.

Who are you?
Slow Food is a global network of local communities working to give value back to food and protect the environment. With its projects around the world, Slow Food defends biodiversity, promotes food culture and reinforces virtuous economies.

Slow Food believes that food is tied to many other aspects of life, including culture, politics, agriculture and the environment. Through our food choices we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed, and change the world as a result. Slow Food works through different levels of action: active participation in policy dialogue at international, national and local levels; consumer education and awareness-raising campaigns to advocate for a more sustainable food system; grassroots projects to support producers defending local food biodiversity; fairs, events and markets to foster a stronger connection between producers and co-producers.

Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. Since the birth of the movement, the exchange of savoire-faires among communities has been one of the avenues to generate a real sense of solidarity.

What made you think of the project?
The world is facing the worst global health crisis in 75 years, a crisis that is spreading human suffering, crippling the global economy and taking away people’s lives. Covid-19 is threatening the whole of humanity, and the whole of humanity must fight back.

While health needs are an urgent issue, safeguarding our future and our planet and preserving the economic strength to overcome the current crisis has also emerged as a primary concern. Small and medium local food business have been hard hit by this crisis and risk being marginalised.

The importance and essential value of the food supply chain continues to be emphasised by all and yet, in this critical moment, we risk losing sight of the true champions of the food system: the farmers, artisans and cooks who develop economies of proximity, serve as a source of subsistence and income for local communities and provide nourishment for the entire population.

All over Europe, Slow Food has intercepted communities who have responded to the crisis, delivering solutions based on the characteristics of the local contexts and the needs of local actors that are not just a reaction to the crisis but represent a chance for change in the new scenarios that we will face in the near future. Giving value and sharing these successful stories will inspire people and trace the path for dealing with the aftermaths of the crisis.

What will your project contribute to Europe, post-corona?
The crisis is not only a time of resistance, but also an opportunity to cultivate change. The on-going emergency is forcing us to reflect on the transformation needed if we want to achieve a food system that feeds all people well, regenerates and protects the environment and allows local cultures to survive and prosper.  It has become clearer than ever what the common good actually means, how “communities” in their most classic sense must become protagonists again, fundamental units able to understand and adapt to social change, and how the actors in local food systems can play a crucial role in pushing forward this change. The project intends to provoke a change in the way we look at the food system and consequently stimulate a cultural change, helping local communities to guide the transformation of the global food system, bringing it back to a vision that has humanity and the planet at its centre. We want to encourage and celebrate the virtuous initiatives that are reacting to the emergency by launching new ideas that are valuable for redesigning the future.

How do you envision it to grow from local to pan European?
In this time of crisis, action at community level and solidarity are crucial. With the awareness that the world has become irreversibly open and interconnected, we know that the quality of our interdependence and level of cooperation must increase.

Through Slow Food network of communities and partners in Europe, we will collect emblematic and successful good practices and narrate their stories in a creative way so that they could – from the local level – to reach a wider public, be of inspiration and stimulate cross-border replication.

And – finally – how does your project help to make Europe an open and shared public space for everyone?
Food, the way how we produce, distribute and consume it, is a resource that can reinforce a sense of solidarity and inspire human creativity. Sharing the stories of how communities at local level have found new ideas to resist but also to go beyond the crisis, will help to strengthen a sense of belonging to a common European space with common problems but also possible common solutions.

Telling about new and already-existing food initiatives all over Europe will help to strengthen a sense of solidarity and to give hope for the future. The creative formats that will be designed with the project intend to be a sort of compass that, through successful stories, will guide people to join forces for the benefit of all Europeans.

Granted: 25.000 euros.
Funded in collaboration with Fondazione CRC.