Happy Birthday, Terra Madre!

Twenty years have passed since the first Terra Madre. Twenty years that represent the story of a slow, peaceful and global revolution.

As we get ready for the next Terra Madre, to be held from September 26 to 30, let’s look back over the event’s key years.

2004: The first global meeting of food communities

After four editions of Salone del Gusto, first held in 1996, the growing geographic spread of Slow Food and the inspiration of the Biodiversity Award came together in a revolutionary new idea, a collaboration between Slow Food, the City of Turin and the Region of Piedmont. Thus was born Terra Madre, the global gathering of food communities. Nicknamed the “United Nations of farmers,” it was attended by 5,000 delegates from 130 countries and attracted worldwide media attention. Prince Charles visited Salone del Gusto and closed the meeting.

2006: Cooks and academics join the gathering

It had been ten years since the first Salone del Gusto, and Slow Food Italy was celebrating its 20th anniversary. In 2006, the event focused on the new concept of “good, clean and fair,” conceived by Carlo Petrini and explained in the book of the same name published in 2005. The second Terra Madre was inaugurated by Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, and opened to cooks and academics, establishing itself as a permanent network and hosting almost 7,000 delegates. A project was launched to reduce the environmental impact of the event and ensure that future editions would have increasingly low emissions.

2008: The journey to the roots of food opens to youth and musicians

The seventh Salone del Gusto set a new record for visitors—180,000—and strengthened its link with Terra Madre. The meeting expanded to include young people and for the first time also hosted musicians from the communities. Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre offered a journey to the roots of food, in which everyone, producers and co-producers alike, could participate.

2010: Foods from around the world under the theme “Food+/=Places”

The relationship between food and places was the theme of the eighth Salone del Gusto, allowing its 200,000-plus visitors to travel around the gastronomic world. Terra Madre was focused on Indigenous peoples and cultural diversity and continued to offer small but significant solutions to the global crisis. The link between Slow Food and Terra Madre grew ever stronger with the launch of the campaign to create a thousand food gardens in Africa, involving both the food communities and the Slow Food convivia (local chapters).

2012: Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto merge and focus on world-changing foods

This was the year that Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre officially joined together to become a single event with the theme of foods that change the world. The public was able to meet representatives from the Italian and international food communities at the Market set up in the Lingotto Fiere pavilions and the Oval as well as during a host of programmed activities. The event welcomed more than 1,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and attracted 220,000 visitors. A large African food garden was planted in the middle of the Oval, representing one of Slow Food’s most important projects and showcasing the continent’s extraordinary wealth of biodiversity. After six years of research and experimentation that changed the Salone’s structure and appearance, the first cycle of the project to reduce its environmental impact came to a close, having reduced the overall impact of the event by 65% compared to the 2006 edition.

2014: The Ark of Taste lands in Turin

Ten editions and ten years of Terra Madre. This important milestone was marked by putting two themes fundamental for safeguarding biodiversity at the center of the 2014 edition: the Ark of Taste, which catalogs foods at risk of extinction, and family farming, which was also celebrated the same year by FAO for its capacity to boost local economies and community sustainability. The presence of the European Commission, with representatives from four directorates-general participating in the conferences, was particularly significant. Among the other innovations was a pavilion entirely dedicated to learning and taste education.

2016: Terra Madre ventures outdoors

The 2016 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto brought the event into the heart of Turin. For Salone del Gusto’s 20th birthday, the event was held outside, in the Parco del Valentino and elsewhere around the city. It proved the ideal venue for talking about the most important challenge of the future: reconciling humanity’s presence on the planet with the need to respect its natural resources and limits. The theme, Loving the Earth, reinforced the importance of caring for the environment in which we live, rediscovering the pleasure of taking care of the land, sharing good food and living in harmony with our surroundings.

2018: “Food for Change,” global themes and Indigenous, migrant and youth networks

This 12th edition brought many new developments, including the presence of five areas exploring five major themes with global reach: Slow Meat, Slow Fish, Insects, Seeds and Food & Health. The Terra Madre Arena, a site for meeting and discussion, was dedicated to three of the communities within the Slow Food and Terra Madre network, for Indigenous peoples, migrants and youth. Over 200 activities were organized as part of Terra Madre Off and held around the city of Turin. This year’s theme, Food for Change, served as an invitation to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who attended the event: Let’s think about our shopping choices and use food to bring about the change needed to ensure a future for our planet, helping to construct a food system that is better, cleaner and fairer.

2020: Seven months of events online and around the world

Our Food, Our Planet, Our Future: Drawing on a great spirit of resilience, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 revolutionized its format, refusing to give up in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead it offered 205 days of physical and digital events, organized by the Slow Food network and its partners in 75 countries. The unique nature of this six-month edition meant it was able to overcome every obstacle, bringing into dialog people from diverse and distant worlds and confirming the event as an unmissable opportunity for awareness-raising around the themes of food, taste education and biodiversity protection.

2022: A new home in the Parco Dora with Food RegenerAction

While 2020 and 2021 were years of resilience, the last Terra Madre Salone del Gusto was all about regeneration, reflecting the radical renewal necessary for a real agroecological transition that can and must start from food, improving agricultural practices, production and distribution systems, diets and consumer habits. Appropriately, for the first time the event was held in Turin’s Parco Dora, a post-industrial urban space that has undergone a radical transformation and redevelopment. This highly symbolic venue sent a clear, powerful message: spreading regeneration through an (eco)systemic approach in the countryside and the city, while rethinking the concepts of relationship, rights and equality and focusing attention on Slow Food’s three pillars of biodiversity, education and advocacy.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is in Parco Dora, Turin, from September 22-26, 2022, with over 600 exhibitors and a series of workshops, conferences and tastings that show how we can regenerate our planet through food

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