Last week, the seventh Slow Food International Congress opened in Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan Province, with the participation of 400 representatives from 90 countries. For the founder Carlo Petrini, “the choice of China has a high symbolic value.”
The movement in China “is taking its first steps,” Petrini says, and Slow Food would like to reach 1,000 villages in the country within five years, as a way to bind Chinese and Italian communities. Not even the choice of the location for the event is casual. Ten years ago, Chengdu with Chongqing launched the first projects linked to the “new campaign” policy, namely the attempt to connect the city to more and more rural areas. Petrini expressed ambitious goals: optimistic ideas that have to be confronted with the critical issues related to China’s past and present.
Slow Food wants to find a new wave of Chinese rural communities and organic markets to respond to the great food insecurity affecting the country, caused by the lack of qualitative controls, pollution and the push for “urban development” over the past 40 years. These are movements born as a reaction to forced urbanization — both the 1980s under Deng’s leadership, as well as those of recent years for the “small and medium level” cities — which led to a gradual abandonment of farms and a drastic reduction of cultivated land. (In 2014, 20 percent of the land in China was “severely” polluted; it is not a coincidence that China is buying land in Ukraine and is now known for land grabbing in Africa.)