Slow Food is an organization that believes food is tied to many other aspects of life, including culture, politics, agriculture, and the environment.
The movement has expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 150 countries. Slow Food Great China was founded to preserve local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life, and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, and how the food choices affect the world around us.
Interview by Dominique Musorrafiti
A special thanks to Miss Zhang Lanying director of Southwest University of Chongqing and director of Slow Food Great China Scientific committee.
China-Underground: How long have Slow Food Great China been operating?
Piero Kuang Sung Ling: It started in January of 2015.
“The problems that our generation don’t manage to solve will pass on to the next one, and if nobody is willing to make sacrifices and ready to take the initiative, the issues will never be resolved.” SLOWFOOD
How do you think the role of Slow Food can influence Chinese food culture?
Chinese and Italy both have a long history of food culture, which is very much based on the diversity of its agriculture system and abundant food materials for a healthy diet. There is a trend in China that middle-class people in cities are keen to look for health and safe food, Slow Food Great China can create an exchange platform to promote a sustainable food system and protection of biodiversity through food cultural exchange.
Have you noticed a change in people’s food habits over the last years?
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Chinese food habits have undergone a massive revolution in the past two decades. One of the key indicators is meat consumption. Young generations eat more meats than their parents. Meanwhile, there is also a group of people who become vegetarians. Many middle-income families are keen to have a balanced diet and demand healthy and safe food.
“Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, said he was keen for Chinese people to absorb the organization’s philosophy by slowing down their lifestyles.” SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
China is incredibly rich in food. There is not lack of food. Rather there can be problems in distribution, quality, pollution, and waste. How have industrialized farming systems changed China in recent years? What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Slow Food Great China?
Considering China’s achievement – free from hunger for 1.4 billion population, it might be easier to understand why all types of agriculture production systems co-exist in China. With the development of industrialized farming systems in China, we have produced enough food. There is also a Community Support Agriculture Movement (CSA) in China, aiming to produce safe health food for city people. Food waste as an issue had been recognized and A Clear Up Plate campaign was launched several years ago and respond to many people. The National Policy in 2018 also emphasized the importance of food quality, rather than quantity. So China is in the process of transition from quantity to quality production. In addition, Zero increase in using chemical pesticides is also written in the national policy.
Slow Food Great China has launched several initiatives, especially Slow Village Movement. In this initiative, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and food culture education are all important components to pursue a good quality of life with healthy food, a safe environment, and a cultural community. The biggest challenge for Slow Food Great China is to build a strong convergence to pursue this goal.
China, as well as Italy, has a strong regional identity relationship with food. Food biodiversity and access to healthy, fresh food nowadays are very important. How complex is it to find a different solution for each Chinese region to adapt to the territory and climate?
China has its traditional, highly diverse, integrated, and resource-recycling production systems adapted to various locations. The difficulty is to realize its value and adapt to climate change.
Slow Food is a movement promoted to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.
Slow Food starts with food to help rebuild rural areas and make it a sustainable place to stop climate change. Which are the Chinese regions that have more urgent needs than others?
With climate change, we often experience extra weather nowadays. The Southwest and Northwest regions are more vulnerable to climate change and need more support.
Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food Great China represents a significant step in the will of change and in creating quality food for all
Food has an important role in everyday life. How do you educate and improve healthy food habits? Do you have any collaboration programs with schools for kids?
Education is the key. Start with children will be the top priority as Agriculture education in the school system is mandatory based on the national policy. Many partners of Slow Food Great China have worked in schools like experiencing planting rice, preparing rice cake and understanding 24 celestial, etc.
Photos courtesy of Piero Kuang Sung Ling and Slow Food Great China
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CHINA-UNDERGROUND. Ciao! My name is Dominique. I’m Italian and I’m proud to be a mix. My father was an Italian chemical engineer and high school teacher, with Greek and Polish heritage. My mother is Haitian, she was high school language teacher, with Dominican, Spanish, French, Portuguese, African and Native American heritage. Being a mix makes me appreciate to want to understand different cultures and lifestyles. I grew up in Italy, lived few years in Haiti, travel around main European capitals, lived seven years in China, six in Spain and UK. Traveling makes me feel that we can learn something from every situation in every part of the world.