Slow Food Heroes
The world is going through difficult years that, from pandemic to international crises, have highlighted inequalities and inequities, in our societies and across the world. But one lesson seems to be becoming increasingly clear to Slow Food: food can be a bridge to peace and it’s only by acting together that we can cultivate a better future.
Thankfully, recent years have witnessed increase in solidarity: people and communities coming together to support one another, and most importantly, vulnerable members of our societies. The Slow Food Heroes project, financed by the European Cultural Foundation, with the contribution of CRC Foundation, seeks to tell the stories of those who stepped up to the Covid-19 crisis, in their own words.
“Food is a universal need and key pathway to connectedness. Cooks, producers and artisans, including lots of migrants and youth, have launched initiatives around food production, distribution and consumption to tackle the pandemic. Slow Food Heroes celebrates the virtuous initiatives in the food world as a reaction to the emergency that may inspire others”, comments Marta Messa, director of Slow Food Europe.
The stories come from around the globe and aim to inspire solidarity, laying the foundations for societies where every single individual can have access to good, clean and fair food.
The challenge is to turn the seeds of change into the foundations of new societies. At the same time, we must call out the short-sightedness of business-as-usual solutions that seek to use the crisis to advance the interest of a few.
Among them, we find the story of Florent Piard, living near Paris and member of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance:”In my two restaurants, Les Résistants and l’Avant-Poste, we work directly with a network of 250 producers, winemakers and artisans. When the restaurants were closed in March 2020, we called on our network to evaluate, each week, who was in difficulty. We were in constant contact with the 100 or so farmers most affected by the crisis, monitoring their situation on a daily basis and being prepared to provide assistance if needed. The main solution we developed to help them was the sale of baskets of their products, twice a week. We also worked with four associations helping the homeless or migrants and prepared an average of 400 to 500 meals per week”.
The same for the story of Daniele Rossi, cook in his own famous vegetarian restaurant Rasoterra in Barcelona. During the pandemic, he participated in the Comer Contigo initiative, launched by food writer Cristina Jolonch of La Vanguardia. “Our idea was that we couldn’t stand idly by and that we needed to contribute to society. So, we made the decision to help hospitals and the health care system. They gave us pallets with whatever they had left over, and we did what we could with what we had. Comer Contigo immediately started delivering 23,000 meals a day to all the hospitals in the city and to the homeless, this was done by delivery drivers who, in turn, had less work due to the confinement”.
And the same in Iceland, Albania, Germany, UK and in many others European countries…and not only. These food-related initiatives, some new and some existing, help to reinforce the sense of solidarity in times of crisis and give us hope for the future, inspiring new ways to fight the crises we are facing and help build a more united and community-oriented society.
“What we have endured so far is a reminder that this is not a time to despair, retreat, or be afraid of the situation; it is a time to accelerate our actions, renew our commitment to the Slow Food philosophy and increase our efforts towards changing the system that brought this crisis about. Sharing our strengths and staying together as a network at times like these is not just important: it is the only viable option we have if we are to overcome the crisis and continue fighting for our planet and all the living creatures that make our lives possible,” explains Edie Mukiibi, Slow Food Vice President.
The Slow Food Heroes stories demonstrate that working together, as communities and in harmony with nature, is the only way forward. Together we have the resilience to adapt swiftly to challenges and respond in ways that are respectful of the local context and cultures. Together we can design our own, resilient food systems.