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Terra Madre Japan
The second edition of Terra Madre Japan was held from December 2 to 4, 2011. Several months after the catastrophe that struck the country in March, the event has braught together dozens of delegates from around Japan. The meeting was held in Unzen, home of the first Japanese Presidium, for the Unzen Takana Vegetable. The municipality of Unzen and the association for traditional Unzen vegetables have helped Slow Food Japan and the Nagasaki Convivium organize the meeting.

Japan is rich in natural resources: Variations in climate and geography through the country mean it has a wide variety of agricultural products and seafood. However, last year’s earthquakes and tsunamis, followed by the nuclear accident, reminded the Japanese how important it is to respect their environment. The same nature that provides many riches can also show its terrible and terrifying face. This event has reawakened Japanese consciousness, helping them understand the crucial importance of the issue of biodiversity and of agricultural production, as well as a model of life, in harmony with nature. For this reason, the theme behind Terra Madre Japan was “Feeding environmental, biological, gastronomic and human biodiversity: towards agriculture, food and life compatible with nature.”

The event was divided into two parts. First, different activities and experiences were presented: the leader of the Fukushima Convivium talked about her reflections on the nuclear accident; chef Hiroyuki Tsukada (who attended Terra Madre 2010 in Turin) described his experience as a cook and the importance of the link between cooking, producers and the local area; Setsue Baba, leader of the group of Unzen leafy vegetable producers relived the challenge of reviving the product; and the young director Watanabe, with the leader of the Slow Food Yamagata Convivium, presented his documentary Recipes Brought to Light, looking at the traditional cuisine of Yamagata.

The second section was divided into themed seminars on subjects like biodiversity in agriculture; the Ark of Taste project; agriculture and Slow education: farmers who produce food and artisans who produce kitchen utensils; and coexisting with the threat of nature. The Shimabara peninsula, near Unzen, has seen its share of natural catastrophe in the past (a volcanic eruption accompanied by a tsunami), from which it managed to recover surprisingly quickly. The hope was that by talking with producers affected by the last big quake, participants from the rest of the country will be able to help them find solutions and come up with concrete ways of supporting them and working together.

In addition to these meetings, parallel activities have also been organized: a comparative tasting workshop on dashi, the broth used as the foundation for many Japanese dishes, and one on Shimabara’s “mazegohan,” a mix of several rice varieties. There was also a market of local products selected by the convivium and two visits to local producers of Etari anchovies, an Ark product, and the Presidium takana vegetable.

You can help the Japanese producers too. Visit the website www.slowfood.com/donate
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