Terra Madre Terra Madre - Choose your language Ministero delle politiche agricole forestali Regione Piemonte Comune di Torino Slow Food
 
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RISORSE/ Economie di raccolta: culture da difendere e territori da proteggere
 
Peter Gail (United States)
Good morning. I am here to talk about how Slow Food has an opportunity to help us in America to descend from many different cultures to rediscover the food of our ancestors, some of which are available only in the wild. Our forefathers brought most of these foods to America as seeds, they planted them in their gardens and continued to use them as there doing till today. As years went by the birds, animals and wind carried these seeds to other areas where people did not know what they were good for, and as a consequence they called them weeds. 78 -80% of the plants we call weeds in America today are, in fact, wild vegetables that were brought here by our ancestors and still used in the old Countries. 60 years ago everybody seemed to know these plants, your grandmother could tell you what kind of wild plant could cure your ailment. If she was making dinner, she might tell you to pick some dandelions from the yard. If she was Greek she might use the dandelions for a dish called horta, if she was Italian for chicory e fagioli, if she were French she might make it into a salad. In the 40’s and 50’s the young generation moved to the cities searching for jobs and forgot about the plants that were so important to them and their youth. Today very few Americans would be able to survive or find food for themselves if there was a crisis and the grocery stores closed. What I do in America, is to try and teach them to get back to their roots, the ones that are easily found and easy to use, most of these were brought from other countries. There are cultural groups in U.S.A that also make traditional dishes from wild greens. What we are doing to promote awareness of these products is that we are working to reach people through the media, seminars, workshops, and teaching farmers on the importance of the wild plants. Particularly encourages farmers to sell ‘weeds’ at their farms stands for a profit.

Solveig De Laissardière (France)
I fell in love with wild plants 7 years ago, by taking a class about this topic, and I felt this is what I wanted to do and pass this knowledge to other people. There three main benefits in eating wild plants: First, they are really full of nutrients; minerals and energy by contrast with manufactured foods, which are less in harmony with our bodies. The wild plants have really to fight hard to grow and reproduce themselves, so this food gives you great energy and nutrients, usually twice the amount of normal vegetables. What you don’t know when you are walking out in your garden is that you’re usually walking on your dinner. My goal when I do these classes is to transform the way people look at nature; I get the students more curious, excited and help them to remember the plants. When I teach the class I use all the senses not only the sight but also touch, smell and taste. As an example when your walking in the streets you don’t pay attention to the people, but if someone comes towards you and you talk to that person, touch their hands, smell the perfume then you will remember this person, and that is what I’m trying to do with the plants. You don’t have to be a specialist to do that, just open your heart and talk to nature and it will talk to you. A few principles that I ask people to respect are: Always leave 1/3 of the plant in its place so that it can reproduce itself; just take what you need for food so that you don’t waste. The other thing is thanking Mother Earth for her gifts. The last thing is calling the plants and they will never disappoint you when you need them. I will give you an example of what I mean by this. Last spring I had a class and I wanted everyone to try elderflowers but it was a little early in the season, so I went by my tree and I really prayed for flowers. When the day of the class came I went by my tree and what did I see? Four beautiful flowers blooming, while none of the other trees had even started to bloom. So really believe me, if you are looking for plants, call them and they will be here for you. The Elder tree, also called the Fairy tree I really like this plant, Gypsy mothers take boiling oil to the tree and dip the flowers, still on the tree, in the boiling oil to make fritters, so when the children come, the tree is covered in fritters! You can use the berries also to make jam, syrup – which has very powerful medicinal qualities. An example menu I would offer in my class is a salad made from wild greens, bread toast with nettles, bishop’s good weed, which tastes a little bit like fennel, and for dessert elderberry flower flan. There is a really wonderful wild gastronomy out there.

Federico Molinari (Italia)
Sono un pasticcere italiano, sono qua perché rappresento una comunità del Pando, nella foresta amazzonica boliviana, al confine col Brasile. Sto seguendo il presidio della noce amazzonica. Sono 7 anni che faccio il pasticcere e nel mio lavoro cerco di seguire i principi del contatto diretto con l’agricoltura, con le materie prime che uso. Fare pasticceria adesso, in occidente, mantenendo un contatto diretto con l’agricoltura è veramente difficile. Sono stato mandato da Slow Food in Bolivia ed ho trascorso 15 giorni nelle comunità che raccolgono le noci amazzoniche, ho tenuto anche un piccolo corso di pasticceria in queste comunità. Con grande stupore mi sono reso conto che, nonostante il luogo sia difficilissimo da raggiungere, l’industria è arrivata anche lì. Il loro prodotto locale è il brigadero, che è una noce amazzonica selvatica, seccata, molita a mano, cotta con latte e zucchero finchè non diventa una pasta elastica e infine ricoperta di cioccolato 100%. Quando io sono arrivato là, il più delle donne usava, nella preparazione del brigadero, il latte condensato e il cioccolato industriale: un’assurdità. Oltre l’obiettivo che ha Slow Food rispetto alla noce amazzonica, se si riuscisse a creare un mercato per questa noce, si potrebbe evitare di abbattere la foresta intera. Nello stesso tempo c’è un intero mondo da scoprire all’interno della foresta amazzonica. Io ne sono rimasto davvero affascinato, è un mondo ricchissimo di biodiversità e di materie prime. Il grosso invito è quello di cercare di arrestare l’avanzata dell’industria e preservare le materie prime di questi luoghi.

Cecil Hill (Canada)
I am from Northwestern Canada, I am First-Nation, I am Tsimishian. I am here to talk about herring spawn-on-kelp. First Nations have thousands of years of knowledge for these products. The Nations that harvest these products are the Haida, the Tsimishian, the Nuxalk, the Heltsuk, the Kwakiutl, and the Nuu’chah’nulth. There are 16 bands, or communities, that are involved in this fishery, which affects about 30,000 people who live in these Nations. This product is very important for the communities. Harvesting is not just harvesting, it is a community event - this is our culture; this is our identity. It signifies the beginning of gathering, which starts in the spring, and then we start to gather for the cold months to come. We are the keepers of the land, the water, and the air in our territories. The First Nations began trading and selling the product with the Japanese when they first began immigrating to Canada, about a hundred years ago. The method of harvest is a traditional one: setting of the kelp, natural harvest, setting the line, and raking. The types of kelp used are: macrocystis, feathered boa, string grass, eelgrass, and hemlock boa. Ways of preserving are by drying or using a 100% brine in which it is kept for about two years. In 1973 a venture was taken out by two Haida gentlemen they started the pilot project. In 1995 we formed an association called SOKOA (Spawn-On-Kelp Operators Association). We have two area representatives from each Nation acting as our directors. The whole objective of ponding herring is to keep the herring alive, to ensure sustainability. The way we handle the herring when they are impounded is crucial. We have to be very gentle with them and make sure the pens are set up in protected areas. After we have the pens set up, with the nets in them, we harvest natural kelp. We make sure we leave a steadfast, so we do not pull the kelp by the roots; we only take the top part of the kelp and leave the bottom part for re-growth. Then we go to capture the herring, and the timing for this step is crucial. You must capture the herring right before it spawns, then when you release it into the pen it begins spawning immediately. You hold the herring in the pen for about six to eight days and release them before they start to show signs of stress. The nets are left in the ocean or in the pens for at least 20-30 days to ensure that all of the eggs have been hatched. So, we have noticed that we get about 100percent recovery because the eggs are not subjected to predators, whereas in inter-tidal they are subjected to birds and other predators who eat the eggs. Our focus is sustainability. We have a co-manage agreement with DFO, we are there to protect our resource. We have noticed that our government is not there to protect our resource, but to work with big industry. So we have a huge battle to fight. We are a small organization with 39 members and we have to fight the whole coast full of big powerful industries that have a lot of pull in the government offices. We have designed our licensing system to prevent corporate takeover. If you want to sell your license, you have to go to the First Nations’ community that you operate in, and if they do not want to purchase your license you have to sell to another Nation community or an individual within that community.
We want our fishery to remain ethical, natural, sustainable, and economically viable for our First Nations communities. Thank you.

Clement Kariuki (Kenya)
I come from an area in Kenya known as the Mau Forest Complex. This region covers about 273,000 hectares and I represent an association of communities who live within the perimeter of the forest. We have many resources within the forest, but some of these resources have been exploited. One of the species, which I would like to talk about, is the African Plum, the Prunus africana. The Prunus africana is the only known-source of a medicinal element for prostate cancer. When it was realized that it could cure prostate cancer, people from Europe conducted mass harvesting of the Prunus africana, until it was almost extinct. We realized, as a community we had to do something to preserve the figure growth of the Prunus africana. That is why we formed this association. We can use the Prunus africana to treat our people locally who suffer from prostate cancer. Also, we can grow the same tree in Africa and sell it as a cash crop. In the past, there were just a few people in society benefiting, because we did not realize the need to domesticate it and sell it as a cash crop. Now we are encouraging our farmers to grow and sell the Prunus africanas. For us to be successful in this field, we have set up strategic propagation areas to distribute the seedlings and cuttings. We do this in both private and public areas like hospitals and schools too. To domesticate we do not collect wildlings from the forest, we collect the seeds or the cuttings then propagate them then issue or sell them to the communities. Our community is making appeals at three levels. One is to request that the collaborators and development agents come to our assistance and work together with us to decide how we can domesticate this plant, grow it, and have a stable supply of this medicinal plant. To our Kenyan government, we have requested a reforestation plan. We are happy now that the government is now changing their policy and trying to incorporate the views of the community so we can be allocated land and be able to grow Prunus Africana on both government and land holdings. And to our community, we are requesting that people start using the bark and leaves of these trees, instead of going for expensive operations, to treat and prevent prostate cancer.

Allen Carle (Australia)
I run a private ethno-botanical garden called the Botanical Arc. I think, if we are here to protect something very valuable, something that is being taken away from us, then we must ask ourselves what are the most important things that we need to protect? I am here today to speak on behalf of the rainforests and to seek wisdom from her peoples. Tropical rainforests occupy about 6percent of our land surface, and yet contain more then 60percent of all plants and animals that occur on earth. That makes these rainforest the most biologically diverse and potentially most beneficial of all terrestrial ecosystems. If we are here to ‘discover,’ and I say ‘discover’ in inverted quotes because traditional people know about most of these things. If we are to discover new foods and medicines and other applications from these plants, then it is quite possible that they will have to come from tropical rainforests. Yet a football field-size piece of tropical rainforest disappears around the world every five seconds, day and night, Christmas and Ramadan. As the rainforests disappear, so do the indigenous cultures that have lived in, depended on, and nurtured these forests for thousands of years. So too, goes the information and knowledge of these peoples. I equate this forest devastation to the burning and destroying of the greatest cultures, the world’s biggest libraries, and greatest museums of all time. We are waging a war against these forests, their people and out future. For Slow Food members and Terra Madre delegates, this should be an alarm bell that rings and does not stop until the destruction is stopped. What might we lose? One of my fields of expertise is in tropical fruits and we deal with about 1,600 species of edible fruits used in the world today. They are disappearing day-by-day, tree-by-tree. How do we instill compassion and understanding for the world, and its indigenous peoples, in the hearts and minds of those who are actually destroying them? If you can take the pressure off the expansion into these areas, then we will have the time to sort out our other important issues. We must work in partnership with indigenous people to work to protect what remains of their indigenous culture and their forests. They must receive legitimacy and tenure or stewardship for the lands they have occupied and nurtured for thousands of years. A proud nation of people will build upon their traditions and offer the rest of us a greater understanding of our planet and a share of its abundant resources. My specific project, the Botanical Ark, is just one family’s attempt to educate the decision makers on the need to conserve the diminishing forest resources and their peoples. The task is momentous, almost always overwhelming; yet if we each stand by and do nothing, we are the problem not the solution. To dictate to people that we must save the forests because they provide us with oxygen to breath or because they modify the climate and slow down global warming has little impact on most people. One cannot feel the oxygen depletion as each tree crashes to the ground; we cannot see sea levels rising. We actually have to impact people in other ways, and our project works with what we call ethno-botanical, or useful plants. Plants that people can see, smell, feel, and taste that come from rainforests. If we can put a dollar value on a forest, a dollar value which makes the forest more valuable standing then chopped down, then we are successful. Most of these plants have been used by indigenous cultures for centuries – and we all use some of them everyday. Like achinato, or Anihote, which make our butter, cheese, and margarine yellow. It makes our pastries a golden brown and the egg yolks from poultry farms darker in color. But most people have no idea that plants from Nigeria and Cameroon, called miracle fruit, which can make anything acid and sour taste deliciously sweet non-caloric and healthy. Or the kipple apple from Southeast Asia which makes all bodily odors and excretions smell sweet. One rainforest alliance with Slow Food is through our taste buds. Once people begin to realize what is out there, then they can realize what we are losing. Our family’s resolve to raise awareness has grown considerably throughout the years as has our family of friends. To see such a gathering as this in Terra Madre is very encouraging. And if diversity in life means we are richer of life’s experiences, then we must not just place rainforest protection high on our list of goals to achieve, but we should actually make sure it happens.
 
 
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