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Carlo Petrini, President Slow Food International

Carlo Petrini challenged us to embark upon a revolution of joy

2 March 2015

Carlo Petrini. President and Founder, Slow Food International

We feel very honoured to have hosted part of Carlo Petrini, founder of The Slow Food Movement’s visit to Scotland. Recognised as one of the most important figures in world food and the defence of biodiversity meeting Carlo was truly uplifting.

On Wednesday I shared a moment in time that I will remember my whole life, I wanted to share it with you. For over 20 years I’ve heard of this charismatic gentleman, moved to start a grassroots organisation against food globalisation.  26 years ago Carlo Petrini stood at the foot of the Spanish Steps and despaired at the arrival of Italy’s first McDonalds. The Slow Food Movement was born.

For years we’ve tried in vain to head over to Turin to the various Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto celebrations.  This week we were honoured to hear him speak on our own front door step. And the charismatic gentleman spoke like a grandfather to us all. Alive and connected to the need for good, clean, fair food for all.

With the amazing organisation of Queen Margaret University MSc Gastronomy and with the generous support of National Galleries of Scotland the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre became the stage for 200 humble foodies to be wowed by the man himself.  Hearing such a charismatic speaker (even through the remarkable and instant translation from Italian to English) you can’t help but be inspired and challenged to do even more to make Scotland a Great never mind a Good Food Nation.

Carlo spoke of our disconnect with the land, about the love of good food shared together, the artisan skills and biodiversity we are losing through the need to get even more than we need from Mother Earth than we can ever use.  Throwing away 40% of the food we produce away yet being surrounded by malnutrition and obesity.

Carlo’s Italian passion and spirit challenged us to embark on a Revolution of Joy through celebrating and eating good food.  I loved when he commented that all the chefs are men but it’s the women that cook and feed the families through the world and often never get a thank you.  As a 78 year old Italian mall this may have been more his culture than ours but whether it’s the men or the women who are cooking we have to appreciate the work and dedication.

Carlo spoke for over 1 hour.  My few moments can’t touch the energy and emotion he raised in the room.  The standing ovation may give you a sense of the catalyst he is for change.

Denise from Peelham Farm set the scene with a truly inspiring real time account of being a farmer, producer and vendor at the Farmers Market.  She gave an insight into the issues she’s seen over the last few years.  Yes there are many who are educated and financially mobile to be able to engage with the farmers markets, there are also those she spoke of who have become put off by the food system and finally those who are desperate to engage but don’t have the skill set to cook or don’t have the financial resource to purchase.

Fife Diet provided all the facts and figures we needed to challenge the good, the bad and the ugly of our food issues in Scotland.  Yes we have a wonderful larder and we are engaging more with it now that we ever have but we also have had recent horse meat scandals perpetuated by the supermarkets and a food system that allows abuse of our producers and finally the ugle – our nations poor heath – 5th in the world’s league tables.

Carlo left us with what many may see as a mountain too high to climb.  But if we don’t all make the small changes to support local producers, buying locally, eat seasonally, celebrate of heritage and food culture and support biodiversity our next generations will pay far too high a price and may never forgive us.

Let the Joyous Revolution begin – around good, clear fair food shared with the people we love!

Ciao, Carina


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