Terra Madre, the most important food fair in Italy promoted by Slowfood, reveals the richest heritage on earth: a world of foods.

Terra madre food fair logo

We visited Terra Madre – Salone del Gusto in Turin, taking part to “Food for change”

A world of food

Hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world met in Turin, Italy (20/09-24/09/2018) for one of the most important food fairs in the world. The event Salone del Gusto was born years ago from the idea of Carlo Petrini (Carlin), “father” of Slowfood, an organization that today is present in every continent, and his friend Oscar Farinetti. Over time they have been able to bring spotlights to food, by analizing it as cultural as well as economic factor. First they started in Italy from the Italian foods, and then they went abroad to rediscover a lot of indigenous varieties of typical ingredients and products, just as they used to do with the Italian cuisine.

colored fruit jam in jar
A world of fruit jam and colors

Then, they studied the food-driven economics, focusing attention on all those species that are less known or known just locally, but often more precious than others. For centuries these products were the basis of the regional diets. Today the mass economy aims at maximizing profit, so that often just mediocre foods are sold for good prices, while local, excellent organic food productions (with small numbers), great foods aiming only at quality get less chances to be reknown and appreciated. This is why they deserve a different kind of attention and Terra Madre offers the right occasion.
Rediscovering these primary foods together with the enhancement of traditional ingredients has created the right conditions to give life to an organization that today boasts thousands of members in all parts of the world. Members and delegates meet evey two years, thanks to this event to expand the commercial interchange. But this is also the occasion for the common people and gourmets to taste excellent foods. And Good habits & Quality foods, following Italian Food Joy could not miss.

red peppers
A red pepper for your tasty meal

Foods coming from everywhere

In the outdoor pavilion of the food festival, dedicated to foreign exhibitors, there are companies from South America, Africa, Asia. Terra Madre  hels people of many coutries to develop their sustainable organic projects, offering them a visible space. Is easy to understand that for non-European participants costs are very high and often they are hosted by large associations or state bodies that bring a representation of the most active producers to the event, allowing them to look for new food markets.
In this food fest the stands of these delegations are however among the most visited, because they offer exotic foods and authentic flavors and also let to know new foods. This often pushes many people to visit this international food fair.

The Italian exibitors

Cured meat from Italy
Cured meat from Italy

In the last years we have visited all the Italian regions, but every time we are surprised by the enormous heritage of native plant species such as vegetables or cereals, but also other animal species such as sheeps, cows, goats and more: really great foods. Everything is then expertly worked and preserved to offer the best regional specialties.
A special mention goes to the flagship productions such as extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano and cured meats from various regions. If we decided to list all the excellent products from truffle to chocolate, from caciotta cheese to lardo cured meat, a book would not be enough: every region has its own ingredients, spacialties, typical italian recipes and secrets in preparation of foods, so I can only say that for a gourmet, is easy to be charmed by a place like this.

Handcrafted products made with pistachio
Products made with pistachio

Green economy

Never as before, this year Terra Tadre has been focused on the rationalization of resources emphasize zero waste products and closed cycle solutions. Now many small companies are gearing up to minimize environmental impacts. If the big industries sometimes use the green economy as a pretext and the organic products for marketing, many small producers really believe in it: in this sector we are on the right wavelenght to improve a right relationship with the environment.

salami food workshop
Food shop how to taste salami

Events and workshops

Every day around 3/5 pm the live events begin: expert tasters or producers with decades of work behind them, explain how to taste food, how to smell salami or cheese, how to prepare dishes, even the strangest ones. They are people with a great experience who have a lot of things to teach, so Slowfood invites them organizing moments dedicated to particular categories such as cured meats, vegetables, etc.. Often we seen live shows with chefs taken from TV cameras als for web channels live streaming, while preparing the finest food specialties and new recipes. We also noticed several associations of regional producers who offered dinners and typical dishes, commenting on recipes and teaching the “charmed” people how to taste this or that dish. Everything culminates between 7.00 pm and 9.00 pm, when at the end of the events, even the eastern visitors, accustomed to a very different cuisine from the European one, leave the table for a last tour among the exhibitors. Below we reported some exemples.

Food Conferences

  • Recipes of Change: How Chefs can Ensure Sustainability
  • Just Profit, or Sustainability? Comparing Models for the Economy of Tomorrow
  • Climate Change: How to Face the Biggest Challenges of the Coming Decades

Food Events

  • From Po Valley to Marche: Salami au naturel
  • Only Natural Oysters, Thank You!
  • Battuta al coltello, albese and tartare: Piedmontese-Bred Beef and sparkling wines
The B2B meeting pass

Food for change – B2B meetings.

A separate chapter is dedicated to the business to business sector, that points out two opposed different kind of trades:
– the old traditional scheme of the buyer who purchase in bulk and distributes through his own networks of representatives;
– the new types of direct trade based on B2B or B2C platforms, directly connecting final customers and producers.

Size makes the difference: small producers, with excellent products, those who have made Slowfood famous are very different from the big companies, both for the quantities produced and for the margin of profit (too small to sell through a big retailers). They focus on local solutions, even if in this context there is no shortage of interesting proposals such as Italian Food Joy , the marketplace that sells in EU designed just for these small producers.

The meetings in which we participated (we followed IFJ), thanks to the Chamber of Commerce of Turin, were held in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, even if every 30 minutes (the time given for every single meeting), the marketing managers must start a new round, in a sort of speed dating to see if two companies can become partner or they have something in common.
Overall, Food for Change was a very positive experience, even if it was not always possible to meet all the programmed companies.

Companies and peoples proud of their foods

Goat cheese on a desk at Terra Madre food fair

Hosted by Italian Food Joy, we are used to working with food and we professionally look for interesting productions, however the thing that never ceases to amaze us and makes us happy is to see small businesses and consortiums proud of offering products of excellence,such as the “Black pig from Abruzzo“or the “Cicerchia (asort of chickpea) from Serra de’ Conti“. Slow Food‘s fair amazes visitors, even Italian ones. There are products coming from almost all Italian regions: this is proof that such a rich heritage must be appreciated and is a valuable resource for the future of the planet. As a last consideration, … nothing like food unites people: English, Russians, Koreans, Japanese, Germans, Danes, Americans, Indians and many other visitors from all the parts of the world tasted delicacies chatting cheerfully, really a positive experience.

Chocolate, from Piedmont

Some numbers

Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto fair was visited by 220 thousand people who admired, tasted, discovered, the foods of Salone del Gusto, an event that brought together 7000 delegates from Terra Madre and 900 exhibitors from 143 countries. During the final conference Carlo Petrini declared to the press that the next edition will be full of novelties, because there is still a lot to do. We of Italian Food Joy will not miss and are ready to be here the next time. See you soon.

Giorgio Barbero



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