The Future of Local Foods

What will the future hold for local food and agriculture against the growing threat of climate change? This question amongst a number of other issues united Terra Madre communities, Slow Food members, local authorities and citizens from across the country for the first ever Terra Madre Azerbaijan held earlier this month.

With nine different climate zones existing within the country, Azerbaijan has experienced large temperature fluctuations in recent years, longer and harsher winters and later arrival of spring. “Communities have noticed the effect on their produce,” said Lilia Smelkova, Slow Food co-ordinator for Azerbaijan. “The Shirvan region, for example, is known for its cultivation of varieties of potato, onion and garlic. In recent years the local community noticed that local varieties of potatoes and onion have became smaller in size, started to give less yields, and changed in taste, being no longer considered suitable for the traditional dishes which have been prepared in the region for centuries.”

The response of local entrepreneurs has been the introduction of imported hybrids and varieties. While the community, on the other hand, has begun to plant indigenous varieties from other regions, hoping that they will adapt well in their vegetable gardens. Delegates took the opportunity to discuss the ramifications and methods of adapting to the present and coming challenges.

Amongst issues discussed, the unprecedented death of bee colonies that occurred earlier this year also drew great attention. The Shirvan area was the worst effected in the country, where more than half of bees died in the space of two months. Delegates hypothesised the causes during the meeting, discussing the possibility of climate change as a factor, or the uncontrolled introduction of GMO seeds in the recent years. “Often, the seeds sold at the home market are imported and the origin is rarely marked,” said Azer Garayev, Slow Food leader in Azerbaijan and the organizer of the national Terra Madre meeting. “The information on the seed producer or variety is often difficult or impossible to obtain, and a laboratory for GMO analysis is still to open.”

Terra Madre communities of the Garabagh sheep breeders and fruit jam producers, together with beekeepers and gatykh (fermented cow milk drink) producers from the nearby Ismaili participated in the event, organized by the Slow Food Shirvan Convivium. Representatives from Buta Kitchen, an organization dedicated to promoting traditional Azerbaijan foods and culture around the world, also attended.

The village of Sis in the rural areas of the Shemakh district, was chosen for the meeting as it was here in 2005 that the food communities, having recently returned from Terra Madre world meeting, decided to set up the country’s first Slow Food convivium. During the event, Sis women prepared pilov, dovga (a cold drink from fermented milk with herbs), traditional salads, and sumakh (local fruit used to garnish meat), while the men cooked kebab. Delegates also took part in Slow Food Shirvan’s sensory education workshop.

Terra Madre Azerbaijan was possible thanks to the collaboration with the Italian Marco Polo 2010 scientific expedition along the Silk Road, which visited Terra Madre food communities in the days after the event to study the genetics of taste and food preferences. Terra Madre Azerbaijan is the second of three Slow Food events organized in collaboration with the Marco Polo team, following Terra Madre Georgia held in early August.

Find out more about Terra Madre communities in Azerbaijan:

Read more about Marco Polo’s Track on the Terra Madre website.

For more information on Marco’s Polo’s Track

For more information:
Lilia Smelkova

Dal sito di Slow Food

I commenti sono disabilitati