It’s beyond huge, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Walk into a pavilion at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto for the first time and you’ll feel amazed, and overwhelmed. There are so many stallholders packed into the exhibition centre. It makes the pavilions at the Sydney Royal Easter Show look tiny.
I’m in historic Turin in northern Italy, two hours west of Milan, for Slow Food International’s Terra Madre Salone del Gusto – a biennial event focused on good, clean and fair food as well as farming and the environment.
There are four massive pavilions filled with stallholders and three of them are solely dedicated to regions in Italy.
For such a small country, that is a massive achievement and it proves how passionate they are about their food and their region.
Each region is known for its own specialty. Wine, olive oil, bread, pasta, pesto, cured meats and nuts are among the main themes. Oh, and of course cheese. It’s a major staple at meal times, especially at breakfast.
There are 7000 delegates here from 150 countries and they include academics, chefs, journalists, Slow Food members, farmers, producers and students.
Forty one of those, including me, are from Australia.
But it isn’t all about walking around the stalls and sampling food. There is also a full program of forums, conferences and meetings that look at topics affecting food production, the supply chain, the future of agriculture and the environment.
This year the worldwide rise in meat consumption is a key topic, along with climate change, seed banking and biodiversity.
On Saturday I spoke at the Australia and New Zealand meeting about the Slow Food Earth Market in Maitland and the journey we’ve taken since two pumpkin farmers needed help with their 40 tonne crop in 2016.
On Sunday afternoon, Italy time, I will speak at the Asia Pacific meeting about the drought in Australia, including my work creating Buy A Bale campaigns across NSW and in Queensland, and the overall The Big Dry Drought Appeal, which involves the Mercury, more than 30 Fairfax Media sister publications, Macquarie Radio and charity Buy A Bale.
Stay tuned for more updates.