SLOW FOOD RECIPES FOR CHANGE
Searching for water
in the Chalbi Desert
Tumal Orto Galdibe
My name is Tumal Orto Galdibe. I am a pastoralist from the Chalbi Desert in northern Kenya, located at the foot of the Hurri Hills Grazing Fields near Maikona Village in Marsabit County, and I make a living raising goats, sheep and camels. This is my livelihood, and my life, as it was of my ancestors for the last 235 years. I hope the next generations will be able to continue this traditional way of life, too.
But in recent times our land has been afflicted by both extreme drought, flash floods, roads construction and oil exploration, putting people, livestock and communities at risk.
Getting water for my animals is the greatest challenge in my life. We trek long distances, up to 100km to find shallow wells for the goats. The weakest animals and the babies are sometimes left behind if the journey is too hard. There has been inadequate rainfall for the last 17 years, which has devastated the pastures. New and mysterious diseases spread among the animals, and pests are becoming more resistant. Annual crop failures make it harder to feed the animals too, which means there is less milk and less meat for us to sell. Household incomes for herding and pastoral families are declining. Make no mistake: climate change here is real, and it is affecting us now.
We can’t expect the situation to get any easier. It will get worse.
To cope with these harsh conditions, we are having to trek ever further with our livestock from their primary grazing fields. We are separating the males and females of the herds at intervals, as we can't afford for new animals to be born during the dry season. We build underground catchments in the grazing fields to minimize the cost of hiring water trucks.
Meanwhile, more and more boys are choosing an idle, urban lifestyle rather than following in their fathers’ footsteps. They often see herding and pastoralism as a way of life that does not offer enough opportunities. The children who do remain with their herder fathers do good work, and from the age of 15-35 they are actively engaged in taking the animals to find water and pasture over long distances.
But with life becoming harder, and droughts becoming longer, I fear our entire way of life could one day die out.
The giant livestock keepers will not be accommodated by the urban lifestyle, and thus may finally go from being pastoralists to climate refugees.
We need to save our seeds, climate, seasons
to protect our communities!
Lee Ayu Chuepa
Terra Madre Indigenous
This is what we try to do daily at the Akha Ama coffee factory. My name is Lee Ayu Chuepa and I am a young coffee farmer and a social entrepreneur. I belong to the Akha indigenous community living in the Maejantai, in the Northern Thailand. I grew up in a small village where people used to provide everything for themselves, from building houses and tools to foods by doing subsistence agriculture.
I was lucky because my parents worked hard to give me the chance to study. Later on, whilst working for an NGO, which supports village kids by teaching them how to build social enterprises, I understood, that was my mission too!
I went back to my village and started my social business, a coffee factory dealing with the whole value chain, from the seed to the coffee bean to avoid middlemen and maximise the income.
We apply integrated agriculture and agroforestry to grow coffee and other foods such as cherries, peaches and persimmons. Thus, aside from the coffee to sell, we have food to eat. These production systems allow us to gain twice: we earn an income to support our livelihoods whilst growing our food and preserving a resilient land which ensures long-term food security and continuity of our income-generating activities. Moreover, in a healthy forest we can find plenty of useful plants with no effort to grow them, from mushrooms to bamboos and plants used in traditional medicine: if you treat the forests well, forests will treat you!
This is what I strongly believe in and what made me join the Slow Food movement, whose mission is to promote this kinds of sustainable agriculture and to support and protect the work of small producers.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case in our area and elsewhere in Thailand: since globalization farmers are often in need for higher incomes to provide for their families’ needs. Thus, they start producing higher quantities of lower-quality products, shifting to monocultures, deforesting and using chemicals, which damage local ecosystems and lower their resilience. We experienced it three years ago, in 2014, when we had an unprecedented bitter cold. Crops were heavily damaged: we lost more than 60% of coffee plants and the whole yield was affected; many farmers struggled, as they did not earn enough. Yet, this fact made people aware of the importance of biodiversity in keeping an ecosystem resilient: they started providing shelter for the coffee by growing canopy like avocado trees, macadamia nut trees, stone fruits trees, tea and many different vegetables. It also showed how monocultures are more vulnerable and less nutritious for coffee not to mention that integrated farming and agroforestry provide better opportunity for regular incomes from integrated crops.
This is our daily attempt to mitigate and adapt to climatic changes. And we are planning to do more!
We are building a learning space in Chiangmai, where our coffee factory is located, for students, visitors and farmers to hold workshops and talk about our climate-friendly agricultural approach. This space will be combined with a social garden where the workers at the factory can grow native seeds and a kitchen where to cook traditional indigenous dishes to preserve local knowledge.
Once a year, we also organise what we call Coffee Journeys where interested people and tourists from Thailand and beyond can take part in: they visit the plantations and meet the farmers. It is really rare to get to know the people and the places behind the products we buy; this helps us understand their real value.
We believe that sharing knowledge and information is the best way to raise-awareness about pressing issues, like climate change. After all, “Coffee is just the bridge to access sustainable living for our people and visitors!”
Unseasonal Temperatures in Belgium
Bring Beer Production to a Halt
For now, our response to climate change is resistance, and also patience. We are trying not to change anything, to keep production as natural and environmentally sustainable as possible.
Jean Van Roy
Traditional Lambic producer, Slow Food Presidium
I'm Jean Van Roy and from a young age I followed the teachings of my father and my grandfather, and from them I learned all the secrets of beer. Lambic is unique in the world: The result of bacteria and wild yeasts present in the air, it is made only in the valley of the Senne River in Belgium, in the area known as Pajottenland. Its recipe dates back to the 16th century, and has remained unchanged ever since.
These days, traditional production is very limited, and survives only thanks to small breweries like Brasserie Catillon. The traditional recipe is based on a single batch and involves a series of very specific rules. The most important is that the wort, before being pumped inside oak or chestnut barrels where it will ferment for up to three years, must come into contact with the air in the Brasserie. We do not have any kind of artificial cooling system, so for us it is essential that local temperatures follow the seasons and allow the wort to be naturally inoculated with bacteria and wild yeasts.
But recently things have not been going as they should. Rising temperatures are stopping us from cooling the wort naturally and ensuring that it is properly inoculated.
The ideal temperature is between 3° and 8°C. Last year in October the temperatures were around 10° to 15°C, so we had to stop production for two weeks. We would have lost all the wort if we had left it in the heat of the Brasserie. In fact, we had already started production, and when we realized that the temperatures were too high, it was too late and we had to throw away some batches of beer. Two years before, in 2014, we started production much later than usual, well into November rather than October, because again the temperatures were not going down as they should have been.
Currently we have only five months to make Lambic in the natural way. My predecessors had a good seven months, from mid-October to May. For more than 15 years now, this has no longer been possible, and the situation is not improving. If we continue like this, we will be forced to completely change our production processes and to reduce the quantity we can make. Right now we produce around 400,000 bottles a year, but if the production times continue to shorten we will no longer be able to make this much.
For now, our response to climate change is resistance, and also patience. We are trying not to change anything, to keep production as natural and environmentally sustainable as possible. We wait for the right temperatures and follow the traditional method, which does not allow pasteurization, the use of chemical substances or the addition of sugars and artificial flavorings or colorings. Certainly, cooling systems would simplify things, but that would also mean completely changing the flavor and the aging of our beer, as well as impacting heavily on the environment, consuming energy and other resources.
Climate change is a very real problem. Only by uniting our efforts, respecting the planet and taking personal action can we change the trend and limit the devastating impact that humanity is continuing to have on the planet.
Jean Van Roy
Find out more about the Traditional Lambic Presidium
Marina Area of Torre Guaceto
a workshop of biodiversity
As for climate change, we suffer from it like everyone else. Among other things, we’ve had to cope with an invasion of bluefish of up to 50/70 cm in length (in Turkey they are fighting to have the minimum length increased from the present 14 cm).
Torre Guaceto Terra Madre Food Community
I’m Marcello Longo and I’m president of Cooperativa Emma at Torre Guaceto (Puglia), a cooperative that began life as a Terra Madre food community and is now active in its local area. I’m also a national councilor of the nonprofit Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Slow Food Italy, and I’ve been the local Slow Food Convivium leader on a number of occasions.
Today Torre Gualceto is a protected marine area covering an area of 2,200 square meters in which different enterprises—Slow Food, the fishermen and Consortium of Torre Guaceto, formed by the communes of Carovigno, Brindisi and WWF Italy—work in collaboration with each other. It was by no means easy to for us to achieve this result, but time has proved us right. The area is divided into three separate zones; one reserved solely to scientific research and guided tours, a second is for bathing and guided tours, and a third is authorized for professional activities such as artisan fishing. Precisely to manage fishing, Slow Food—represented by the Alto Salento Convivium of which I used to be leader—has drawn up a joint protocol with the Consortium and its researchers and in agreement with the fishermen themselves.
The first step was to apply for a five-year ban on fishing to help fish stocks to regenerate. The decision didn’t go down well at first with the fishermen, but today no one is prepared to turn back. The five years have now expired and we have launched an experimental fishing scheme according to a joint protocol envisaging one trip a week using bottom wide-mesh gillnets, each with a maximum length of 1,000 meters, which the fishers stretch out to reach lengths of up to 40,000 meters. It’s interesting to note that the nets have a 33 mm mesh, while the compulsory EU minimum was 22 mm. When Europe imposed the larger mesh size, many fishermen went on strike but ours laughed up their sleeves and said ‘We’ve already got 33 mm nets’. Another nice thing about our fishermen is that they wait every morning with a researcher and our personnel to measure the fish, performing a monitoring activity that allows us to alter our fishing methods, if necessary. So what has all this work led to? The first catch after the ban was epic and one fisherman wept because he hadn’t seen so much fish in the nets since he was a kid. We had managed to increase the fish population by 400%. Going out to fish once in the reserve was the equivalent of going out to sea four times. Today the ratio has settled at round two- to threefold.
Area A of the reserve is also a veritable nursery, fish eggs being brought in by the currents all along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. The upshot is that we ensure fish for the whole region. Another source of pride is the long life cycle of the fish that live in the reserve, where red mullet of ten years of age and white sea bream of over 30 have been caught. In the case of gray mullet, we have decided to wait until October to fish them, after they have laid their eggs. In this way we ensure that the population is regenerated, not to mention the availability over large-sized fish for which the chefs of the area compete and from which our fishermen make good earnings. Another way we have of making sure of economic sustainability is by training the fishermen to work as environmental educators in schools and inside the protected area. The most important point to note is that Torre Guaceto has become a workshop of biodiversity and sustainability, collaborating with the University of Gastronomic Sciences and in close contact with Slow Food, which is developing a number of projects in the area. One such is the production of Oro del Parco, an organic olive oil. Now, with the help of Slow Food, farmers who used to work intensively and gather their olives from the ground have now converted to organic methods.
The reserve also boasts two Slow Food Presidia: Artisan Fishing and the Torre Guaceto Fiaschetto Tomato, the latter a project that works and generates income. We are trying to bring in new producers every year; this year, for example, we have involved a young man of 30 who used to work as a cook but has now decided to become a farmer. Today about 40% of the hectares of the reserve’s arable land are farmed organically.
As for climate change, we suffer from it like everyone else. Among other things, we’ve had to cope with an invasion of bluefish of up to 50/70 cm in length (in Turkey they are fighting to have the minimum length increased from the present 14 cm). These fish are great predators and risk jeopardizing the natural balance of the reserve. We need to fish them and we already have ideas about how to turn the crisis into an opportunity. It comes naturally to us.
of the forest
In the last two years, climate change has been felt through a prolonged drought that has had a pronounced effect in the Atlantic Forest, with changes to rainfall patterns in the region and, consequently, the loss of cocoa crops.
Dois Riachões community
My name is Luciano Ferreira, and I grow cacao in the Dois Riachões community, located in Ibirapitanga, southern Bahia, Brazil.
This is a land of forests and springs (there are around 3500 springs), with Cabruca Cacao plants cultivated agroecologically over an area of 150 hectares. In this type of agroforestry system, the cacao plants grow in harmony with all of the other local biodiversity, coexisting with more than 250 natives species, including animals at risk of extinction such as the golden-headed lion tamarin.
Furthermore, this agroecological system contributes to reducing the effects of climate change in the region. In the last two years, climate change has been felt through a prolonged drought that has had a pronounced effect in the Atlantic Forest, with changes to rainfall patterns in the region and, consequently, the loss of cocoa crops.
These long periods of drought, particularly in 2015-2016, substantially reduced the production of Cabruca Cacao. Protecting the production of Cabruca Cacao means protecting the Atlantic Forest and all its local biodiversity.
The production method doesn't just prioritize the protection of the environment and the production of organic cacao, but also guarantees fairer relations between producers and the market, greater bargaining power for producers and less susceptibility to the volatility of the international market.
In this context, Slow Food plays a fundamental role in the promotion and protection of the biome, creating links between producers and consumers and promoting good, clean and fair food production.