Posts Tagged ‘Slow Food International’

Jul31

Five Indigenous Livestock Breeds You Have Never Heard of

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By Sheldon Yoder

Approximately 21 percent of indigenous animal breeds around the world are in danger of extinction, according to the FAO. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Indigenous breeds of livestock have fed and clothed humans for thousands of years. Many of them have unique adaptations for survival in harsh environments and for tolerating specific diseases.

Regrettably, while it took millennia to create the rich genetic wealth of indigenous livestock breeds, that diversity is in danger of being lost forever as farmers are encouraged to switch to commercial livestock or cross-breed indigenous livestock with exotic breeds.

The following are five breeds of livestock in Africa whose genetic diversity deserves to be protected.

1. Ankole Cattle: The Ankole is a breed of cattle native to Eastern Africa that is not only beautiful but valuable because of its ability to survive in extremely harsh, dry conditions—a trait that is increasingly useful as sub-Saharan Africa becomes drier and hotter. These animals have striking, long, large-diameter horns, which help circulate blood and keep them cool in hot climes. The animals are renowned for their hardiness, allowing them to forage on poor quality vegetation and live off limited amounts of water. (more…)

Jul17

Five Organizations Sharing Local Knowledge for Success Across the World

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By Jenna Banning

As Nourishing the Planet has witnessed first-hand, small-scale farmers and local communities have developed innovative ways to meet the challenges facing people across the world. But until recently, they have often lacked the ability to share their solutions, or their knowledge has been overlooked by governments and international groups.

Nourishing the Planet Director Danielle Nierenberg meets with farmers at the Ecova-Mali center. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five organizations that recognize the valuable contributions farmers can share with their neighbors, with policy makers, and with people across the world.

1. AfricaRice Center:

Created in 1971 by eleven African countries, the Africa Rice Center now works with 24 countries across the continent, connecting researchers, rice farmers, and rice processors.

AfricaRice has been developing learning tools that focus on reaching as many farmers as possible, aiming to both “decentralize and democratize learning within the rice sector.” One powerful method has been farmer-to-farmer videos, which feature local experts sharing their knowledge about seed drying and preservation, rice quality, and soil management with viewers. These videos have been translated into more than 30 African languages, with great impact.

Reaching even beyond the continent, the African Rice Center has also created a set of four videos on seed management with rural women in Bangladesh, helping to further facilitate valuable knowledge exchange between rice farmers.

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Jun25

Eating Planet: Carlo Petrini Discusses Buying Food and Paying for Your Values

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By Marlena White

On Thursday, June 28, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition will release Eating Planet–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet in New York City. Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights a contributing author of Eating Planet, and shares his views on how to fix the broken food system. The event is full but please tune in on the 28th via livestream: we will be taking questions in real time from the audience, from the livestream, and from Twitter and Facebook.

In Eating Planet, Carlo Petrini discusses paying for food in terms of values. (Photo credit: Bruno Cordioli)

In a chapter introduction for Eating Planet – Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet—the newly released book from the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition—International Slow Food Movement founder Carlo Petrini discusses what paying a fair price means, and why it’s important for the sustainability of the world’s food supplies.

Petrini begins by explaining that sustainability means the plans we make, both in terms of individual and higher-level actions, must be able to last over the long term and on many different levels, taking into account social, economic, and environmental factors. With its many impacts on these factors, he says, food is crucial to sustainability as a whole.

According to Petrini, what we eat, including the time and money we put into it, is an investment in both our health and the state of the environment. He says it also reflects a certain set of values that can have strong implications for sustainability. These values may be the bottom line of overall profits, or longer term considerations like protecting the health of ecosystems and the livelihoods of our food producers. Petrini argues that the values inherent in our food should be included in their price, especially after accounting for what these values contribute to the sustainability of the planet.

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Jun14

Carlo Petrini: “Good, Clean and Fair Food” for Sustainable Development

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By Katie Spoden

Carlo Petrini, the founder and president of the Slow Food Movement, is invited to speak at the Sustainable Development Dialogue on Food and Nutrition Security at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.

Carlo Petrini (Photo credit: Slow Food Perth)

The dialogue is one of ten dialogues that will take place during the conference. The goal of the sustainable development dialogues is to bring together representatives from NGOs, the private sector, the scientific community, and other relevant groups – no UN representatives or Governments will be represented – to debate and compile tangible recommendations to present to the Heads of State and Governments present in Rio.

Carlo Petrini founded Slow Food in 1986 in protest to a McDonald’s opening in Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Born in Italy, Petrini began the Slow Food movement with the hope of bringing cultural and quality food back to its Italian roots. Slow Food’s philosophy is to provide “good, clean, and fair food for all.” Currently, the international grassroots organization has over 100,000 members in 150 countries. In 2004, the Terra Madre network was launched by Slow Food. Terra Madre is a program that connects small-scale farmers with consumers around the world to discuss solutions to improve the food system and food and nutrition security.

About the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Petrini says, “The 1992 UN Conference in Rio de Janeiro was a truly historical moment, finally bringing sustainable development to the attention of the whole world. Twenty years have passed, and we have not yet made enough progress to meet the challenges that had been set out. My hope is that Rio+20 will send out a strong message of unity, where we acknowledge our responsibilities as citizens of the world and where we commit ours earth and the global community as a whole.”

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May10

Slow Food President to Address the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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By Alison Blackmore

On May 14, Slow Food President Carlo Petrini will be speaking on the right to food and food sovereignty at the 11th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). His invitation to speak is the first time an external guest has been asked to address the Forum.

Carlo Petrini speaking at the Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The UNPFII represents global issues pertinent to Indigenous Peoples. This year, at its annual two-week session, the Forum will focus on the “Doctrine of Discovery,” where Indigenous, governmental, and UN representatives will discuss the impact foreign conquests have had on Indigenous Peoples, and how to rectify these grievances.

At the Forum, Petrini will speak on the power Indigenous Peoples hold to deal with many of our most dire societal ills – from environmental crises to global health problems. For many years, Petrini and Slow Food have been working with Indigenous communities, learning from their agricultural approaches, supporting farming initiatives, and fostering connections between farmers. Petrini argues that returning to many traditional agricultural practices that work in harmony with the earth is one of the best ways to establish a food system that guarantees access to nutritional food without sacrificing the long term health of our environment.

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Apr22

Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition and Worldwatch Celebrate Earth Day with the Release of “Eating Planet”

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By Leah Baines

Across the globe, the food system is broken. Worldwide, 30 percent of food is wasted, 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night, while another 1 billion suffer from health problems related to obesity and agriculture contributes roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Meanwhile, people are increasingly disconnected from how their food reaches their plate, making solutions to the global agricultural system seem even more difficult to attain.

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, in collaboration with Nourishing the Planet, is releasing its book, Eating Planet, today. (Image credit: Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition).

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) is collaborating with the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project to release their report, Eating Planet, today, April 22, (Earth Day). Eating Planet will highlight the challenges facing the food and agricultural system, as well as the numerous benefits that reform could bring.

The book incorporates findings from the report with contributions from many renowned experts and activists worldwide. “The study’s conclusions represent a major step toward ensuring that agriculture contributes to health, environmental sustainability, income generation, and food security,” said Nourishing the Planet project director Danielle Nierenberg. “The ingredients will vary by country and region, but there are some key components that will lead to healthier food systems everywhere.”

The report is divided into four sections: Food for All, Food for Sustainable Growth, Food for Health, and Food for Culture. Each section describes the challenges we face in providing safe, healthy, and environmentally sustainable food and offers concrete recommendations, proposals, and actions to help solve the global food crisis. The book also draws upon experts’ specific suggestions for food and agricultural reform, including healthy eating and lifestyles, fair food prices, and transparent and responsible food trade.

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Apr21

Agricultural Innovations that are Protecting the Environment On Earth Day

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For the last 40 years, Earth Day has been celebrated around the world to call attention to some of our most pressing environmental and social problems, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and dwindling natural resources. This year, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet highlights 15 agricultural innovations that are already working on the ground to address some of those problems.

Agriculture is already working on the ground around the world to protect the environment, while improving people's livelihoods. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The 15 innovations are used by farmers, scientists, activists, politicians, and businesses and promote a healthier environment and a more food-secure future.

Guaranteeing the Right to Food. Some 1 billion people worldwide experience chronic hunger, and 98 percent of these people live in developing countries. To combat hunger in rural or remote communities, the Brazilian government operates the Food Acquisition Program, which funds local organizations, including community kitchens, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and schools, to buy and distribute fruits, vegetables, and animal products from smallholder farmers in their region.

Harnessing the Nutritional and Economic Potential of Vegetables. Micronutrient deficiencies, including lack of vitamin A, iodine, and iron, affect 1 billion people worldwide and stem partly from a lack of variety in people’s diets. Slow Food International works to broaden diets, and preserve biodiversity, by helping farmers grow local and indigenous varieties of fruits and vegetables, organizing cooking workshops, and helping producers get access to traditional seeds.

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Feb21

Five Agricultural Innovations to Improve Biodiversity

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By Graham Salinger

According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a quarter of the world’s known plant species—some 60,000 to 100,000 species—are threatened with extinction. And even though plants may not receive as much attention as endangered animals, they are essential. Among their many attributes, plants are a vital source of food, they can help stabilize the climate, and they also provide shelter, medicines, and fuel.

Seeds of diversity; seed banks are one innovation that helps increase biodiversity. (Photo credit: GREEN Foundation)

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five agricultural innovations to improve biodiversity and protect these important providers.  

1. Seed banks:  Seed banks help preserve seed varieties, while protecting against famine and disease. Storing seed varieties in seed banks helps protect farmers from seed loss while reducing their overreliance on monoculture crops that makes agricultural economies vulnerable to price shocks.

Seed Banks in action: In Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault protects thousands of seeds that farmers in developing countries can rely on to help re-harvest crops that have been affected by disease, climate, or conflict. And in Karnataka, India, community seeds banks are open to any member of the community as long as they don’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers when farming.

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Nov19

Carlo Petrini makes the case for eating less meat

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By Graham Salinger

Following Slow Food International’s launch of a new guide to sustainable meat consumption, Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini makes the case for eating less meat.  Instead of consuming the more abundant and cheaper animal-products from livestock raised in industrial systems, Petrini argues it is better to consume less meat, but more from indigenous breeds in small-scale production systems.  Currently, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that around 1,710 breeds of livestock—21 percent—are at risk of extinction worldwide.  As the number of indigenous breeds shrinks, the unique value of indigenous livestock and their products increases. One strong example of such value is the specialty cheeses produced by a select number of breeds.  While the predominant Holstein breed of dairy cattle can produce twice as much milk as their rarer cousins, due to unique milk composition, it is only certain indigenous breeds that can produce many of our favorite cheeses.

Livestock production is the fastest growing agricultural sector worldwide and remains an important means of livelihood for many small-scale farmers. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

While unique and specialty food products are just one important example of the need to protect indigenous livestock breeds, it is crucial to recognize the role of livestock in supporting livelihoods around the world.  It is estimated that 600 million people in the developing world rely on small-scale livestock production.  As the world’s population continues to grow and standards of living continue to improve, the demand for animal-products will increase. Thus, it is not surprising that livestock production is the fastest growing agricultural sector worldwide and remains an important way to improve diets and raise incomes in the developing world.  With the demand for animal foods projected to double in developing countries in the next 20 years, indigenous livestock breeds contain valuable resources that could be vital for food security and improving local economies.

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Oct10

Shalakh Apricot: Protecting a Species’ Diversity, and a Local Culture

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By Jenna Banning

In Armenia, farmers have been growing apricots for over 3000 years, making use of all parts of the tree: the wood can be used to make furniture, and the seeds can be turned into oil or the basis for a liqueur.  The fruit itself is eaten ripe, or used in a number of traditional recipes, such as preserves and jams, also known as maraba.

The shalakh apricot is the national symbol of Armenia, and plays a central role in local culture. (Photo credit: Terra Madre)

Armenian apricots come in a number of different varieties, some local to specific regions of the country. The shalakh apricot, from the Araret Valley, is one of the most important varieties, and is known as the symbol of Armenia. Named after its distinctive pineapple aroma – shalakh means pineapple in Armenian – the fruit is celebrated for its balance of sugar and tartness, and has a juicy and creamy texture. The shalakh is well-adapted to the country’s arid climate, and has regularly high yields.

But the apricots labeled “from Armenia” in grocery stores today are usually not the authentic shalakh apricots. In Armenia, production of the shalakh apricot is limited to mostly domestic consumption, with each family in the Araret Valley owning a few trees for personal use. Instead, the international market is being flooded with a rise in hybrid apricots being marketed under the shalakh name, and the true shalakh variety is under threat of disappearing.

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