Source: Asian Review
BY JOHN KRICH, Contributing writer
TURIN, Italy — It seems that history, when it comes to food production in China, is repeating itself — much like every rice harvest.
Joining a new trend toward what is loosely termed “rural regeneration,” Chinese students are once again going to work in the countryside and “learn from the peasants,” – as they did the Maoist Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s. In the past year, small groups of urban youth, concerned about creating a new model of farming that is safer and more sustainable, have left China’s major cities for periods of between one month and a year, in study trips organized by Beijing’s Liangshuming Rural Reconstruction Center, Under a coordinated scheme, they aim to support and promote farming communes that are rotating crops and using ancient forms of pest control — as well as give renewed importance to those who still work the land.
Only this time, it is concern for the quality of food more than party ideology that is making them go. “They want to be part of a rebirth in how we farm and the cultural value of farmers,” said Zhang Lanying from Liangshuming Center. Ms. Zhang is a leading proponent and spokesperson for groups promoting small-scale agriculture and organic methods.
Thanks to efforts by Liangshuming and its partners, China was represented for the first time at an international gathering of the 30-year-old, anti-mechanization and pro-environment “Slow Food” movement. China took a single tented booth among many hundreds at this year’s Salone del Gusto Terra Madre (Mother Earth’s Ark of Taste), held in September. Staged every two years in the north Italian gourmet hub of Turin, this is the world’s largest gathering of farmers and artisanal food producers, agronomists and activists, socially-conscious chefs and foodies.
At the event, curious gourmets thronged Turin’s parks and squares to sample edible items — joining 7,000 “Slow Food” delegates from 143 countries and 1,000 Terra Madre food communities. Thanks to China’s appearance, the offerings this year included Mongolian dried meat and date candies from China’s Muslim regions.