Global food fest urges return to farmers' 'common sense'

Was it a back to the future moment? Chefs and farmers gathered in northern Italy urging a revolution in global eating habits by returning to the common sense that guided farmers of old.

"You shouldn't go over the river to get what you have on your side," cautioned Gunnar Karl Gislason from Iceland.

He was one of dozens of chefs at the Salon of Taste in Turin, an international food fest aimed at touting local food products and sustainable farming methods.

"You really have to think how to get new ingredients, we are using swedes for the desserts... meanwhile they usually use them to feed pigs," said the chef as he served up action of tasty and unusual Icelandic dishes.

He is notably a fan of Icelandic aniseed oil and "skyr", an ancient cottage cheese.

"We are taking traditional dishes that people were doing a hundred years ago. I enjoy it much more. I always find something that surprise me," said Gislason, who is the chef at the trendy Dill restaurant in Reykjavik.

For Spain's Oriol Rovira, local food is all in the family since his four brothers are all farmers and his ingredients come directly from their fields.

"I call it 'window cooking' since I look out of the window to see what I can make," said Rovira, a chef at the Els Casals restaurant near Barcelona.

Thousands of exhibitors and farmers from around the world descended on Turin for the festival, which ended this week. The event was organised by the Italy-based environmental and gastronomic campaign group Slow Food.

- 'Return to farmers' common sense' -


The movement was founded in 1986 in the Turin region by Carlo Petrini, a food critic and sociologist, in reaction to the opening of the first fast-food restaurants in Italy and now has some 100,000 members in 163 countries.

The festival featured indigenous products at risk of extinction such as Ethiopian coffee and Moroccan cumin, as well as talks by ethnic groups like Russian Kamchadals, Australian Aborigines and Brazilian Guaranis.

"Every country should produce what it consumes," said Pascal Gbenou, a 39-year-old farmer and activist from Benin, who came to the conference.

"The last food crisis showed it's suicidal to depend on other countries. When you depend on someone for food, you are naked, defenceless," he said.

A spike in food prices sparked rioting in several countries in 2008.

"Eighty percent of the world is fed by small farmers. We therefore have to strengthen this local farming," added the rice-farmer.

Gbenou established a farm in Benin in 2000 that trains young men in sustainable farming techniques to stop them from emigrating to the cities, as well as to encourage back those who have already moved.

"The objective is to create an urban exodus," he said.

"Many young people abandon school and go and drive motorcycle taxis in the city, entering a precarious life, while we have the potential... to make our people completely self-sufficient," he added.

The presence of some 5,000 representatives of Terra Madre - a movement for sustainable farming set up by Slow Food - gave the festival an important social element to go along with the finger-licking good food on offer.

Michel Bras, a popular French chef, travelled from France to take part in a "table meeting" organised in the nearby wine-growing town of Barolo.

"The thing that motivates me is protecting the planet," Bras said.

"I am a man of the farming world. I want to preserve what I knew in my youth and to be able to hand down to my children their true identity," he added.

"I think the financial crisis has forced people to think about their relationship with bling-bling, the type of cooking that shot into some kind of galactic sphere," said Bras.

"There is a return to farmers' common sense."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor