School of Natural Resources and Environment

SNREds Blog

Today, I visited the World Expo in Milan, where the theme is Feeding the World - Energy for Life.  This was the first time that the World Expo was explicitly focused around finding solutions to the world food crisis.  We live in a world where 800-900 million people are chronically undernourished, and 2.8 million people die each year from obesity-related causes.  There is no denying we live in an era of food crisis.  Each nation was asked to prevent its vision for contributing to solving world hunger.  The pavilions were as varied and eye catching as the countries that occupied them.

The motto of Slow Food - "Good, Clean, Fair" - is one of food justice; justice for farmers, eaters, and the Earth. Advocates acknowledge that this path is not a cheap or economical one, however, they openly reject economics as a measure of desirability. Quality of life, it is argued, is a more complete metric for the effect that policy has on human well-being. There is no better time or place to start good quality habits than in schools, where the future of every nation is shaped.

This is the message of Carlo Petrini, the portly, ever-smiling founder of Slow Food International. Value, he reminds the 2,500+ gathered. attendees, is not price. Value honors the people who grew the food, the Earth that fostered it, and the environment that makes each item unique. I heard similar stories everywhere yesterday. Young farmers, ranchers, fishermen, activists, and community organizers all say that returning to the land or the ocean to produce food has brought unspeakable value to, not only their lives, but their communities and environment as well.