Winona LaDuke: Indigenous leaders keep our food traditions alive

The Turtle Island Slow Food Association in Italy for the Terra Madre gathering in September 2016. Photo by Lauren Janine Mapp‎

Activist Winona LaDuke, a member of the White Earth Nation and a founder of Honor The Earth, traveled to Italy with the Turtle Island Slow Food Association to promote indigenous foods. Here's her dispatch from the Terra Madre gathering:
This is my fifth trip to Italy for Slow Food. I first went with Margaret Smith, when the White Earth Land Recovery Project won the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity in 2003, for our work to protect wild rice from genetic engineering. This year, I went as a part of the Turtle Island Slow Food Association- the first Indigenous Slow Food members in the world, a delegation over 30 representing Indigenous people from North American and the Pacific. We have some remarkable leaders, they are young and committed.

It is a moment in history for food, as we watch the largest corporate merger in history- Bayer Chemical’s purchase of Monsanto for $66 billion; with “crop protection chemicals” that kill weeds, bugs and fungus, seeds, and (likely to be banned in Europe) glyphosate, aka Roundup. Sometimes I just have to ask: ‘Just how big do you all need to be, to be happy?’

In contrast, the Slow Food Movement, grows in depth and numbers. This year, 7000 people gathered from 140 countries to discuss clean, fair and good food; and how we will make that happen. Carlo Petrini, Slow Food’s president, reminded us that this is food which is not produced by forcing others from their land, poisoning ecosystems or underpaying farmers. This is the conference of cool cheeses and meats, amazing produce, and lots of chocolate. Those who come, Carlo notes, come to reload themselves with energy and self esteem.” We are, frankly, quite undervalued.

Why is this important? Because on a worldwide scale two billion people suffer from hunger and a billion are obese. You can guess which side of the equation most Americans are on. Food security is the security of society. That security, will not be found in larger corporate mergers. Consider this: Indigenous farmers are already producing, up to 70% of the food in communities, while industrialized agriculture, with $13 trillion in investments cannot actually feed the world.

Read More:
Winona LaDuke: Slow, Clean, Good Food (Indian Country Today 9/30)

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