During the visit of Slow Food president Carlo Petrini to Lebanon last week, a seminar was organized on November 9th, 2016 at AUB by Slow Food Beirut in collaboration with the Food Heritage Foundation and the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU). Petrini’s talk entitled The Future of Food Depends on Biodiversity stressed on five major problems the world is facing, and referred to today’s food business as “a criminal system that disregards the importance of the people – farmers, small food producers, and women cook – behind the real food and is turning gastronomy into food pornography”.
“We have rendered the soil dead like the sole of our shoes”
The intensive use of chemical fertilizers in order to increase yield has resulted in the loss of soil fertility. Nature is based on a cycle in which all biotic and abiotic components interrelate for the health of our planet and for the survival of all living organisms, and soil is an essential component of this cycle. Losing its fertility will influence many organisms and eventually negatively impact our yields.
“Water is the main future challenge and not petrol!”
Humans have been using water with no moderation. The over-exploitation of water is leading to the depletion in water resources and this will be a major cause of future wars.
“Farmers are getting nothing!”
There is a huge difference between the price paid to the farmers and the amount paid by consumers in the supermarket. Middlemen and retailers are receiving the biggest share of money while farmers get only a very low amount. This further discourages new generations of farmers from investing in agriculture. Furthermore, local and culturally valuable species of plants and animals are being replaced by high-yielding hybrid crops disregarding the difference of taste between indigenous and imported species. “Disaster! We are not going to eat computers and communication! We need people to farm!” Farmers market should be encouraged and local food should be promoted.
Gastronomy is not only the production of food, but it relates to chemistry, biology, anthropology, politics, environment and economy. It reflects the identity and heritage of every country
“Since 1990, 75% of global biodiversity has gone extinct”
People are threatening the diversity of all species, fruits, vegetables and animal. They tend to always think about the price of food and not its value, to privilege the strong (more productive) species and forget about the less productive ones leading to their extinction. This way, we are not respecting the natural evolution of species which all have an equal right to exist and contribute to the well-being of our planet.
“Millions of tons of food are wasted every day!”
We have never wasted food as we are doing today! Food has become a simple commodity with no real value. People see the monetary value of food instead of its communal, historical, cultural, and environmental values. “We need to reconnect with our nature, respect its components and respect food”.
Petrini concluded his talk by reminding us of the importance of food in our daily life.
Food is love, food is nature! Food is what unites us. We need to go back to our roots! Now is the time to protect our heritage products, let us preserve our Lebanese identity
About Slow Food
Slow Food is a global organization founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini along with a group of activists. It aims at defending regional traditions, preventing the loss of local food cultures, encouraging a slow pace of life and increasing people’s interest in the food they eat, its origin, and how it affects the world around them. Slow Food works all around the world to preserve food biodiversity, build links between producers and consumers through farmers’ market and raise awareness on the tensions affecting our traditional food systems.