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Terra Madre highlights food sustainability

SCCC professor plans even to harvest ideas locally

Fast paced lifestyles might not allow people to think about what they are really eating and how food choices have a local and global affect.

Chef Rocco Verrigni, professor at Schenectady County Community College, participated in the five-day international food conference Terra Madre, which translates to mother earth, in Turin, Italy with over 6,000 attendees from 161 countries also attending the "slow food" event in late October. Some of the topics discussed included food polices, food safety, diversity, energy, sustainable education about the food system, the affect of genetically modified organisms and organic fair trade farming.

"It gathers, farmers chefs, students, academics, food activists and musicians to come together to really share their stories and try to solve some of the issues they have by being small artisan farms as opposed to huge corporate farmers," said Verrigni.

The conference addressed Verrigni's values, because he is co-founder and president of Slow Food Saratoga and the advisor to Slow Food SCCC. The Slow Food movement aims to have people make better food choice for themselves and the environment around them.

"What encapsules the whole slow food movement is people around the globe having access to good, clean, fair food," said Verrigni.

The movement started in 1989 more as an anti-fast food movement, but has grown to include awareness about where food comes from and how locally grown selections are also beneficial for health and environmental reasons, he said.

"It is very natural, it is not new, it is something that is very old," said Verrigni. "Even thought it is a new idea now, it is how our ancestors ate. It never dawned on anybody to eat a tomato in the northeast in the middle of January."

While he doesn't want to "go back in time," he said the seasonality and localness of how our ancestors ate is the model we should be trying to go back to in our modern life. He simply feels anything beyond that isn't normal.

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