Future food leaders cook up innovative solutions at Terra Madre

September 29, 2016

During this year’s Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin from 22-26 September, Hivos partnered with Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) and Food Hub to offer a side event for young food activists from around the world.  Together we offered tools, examples and inspiration for future food leaders against a backdrop of the many transitions starting to unfold in the world of food production and consumption.

Nine issues, ninety-nine brains

The urgency for future food leaders is evident. The world is producing and wasting more food than ever, and we are reaching the limits of our natural resources. A full-day event at Terra Madre on 24 September brought together ninety-nine future food leaders from thirty-three countries to reflect on both the myriad of problems we are facing and the potential we have to counter them. At this ‘SFYN-tank’, hosted by Arduino pilot project Casa Jasmina, young farmers, food processors, social entrepreneurs, chefs, product-designers, foodies and artists reinforced each other’s creativity and experience, moving from problem exploration to designing potential solutions. In nine groups facilitated by experienced coaches and experts, the participants assessed cases ranging from food education, to seed conservation in the digital age, to bridging the urban-rural gap.


At the end of the day SFYN, the nine groups presented the solutions they had “cooked up”. A group working on livestock farmers without access to affordable, hygienic and certified slaughterhouses proposed to build a system where farmers can have livestock slaughtered on their own farm. Another group suggested to democratise food-labels with campaigns that invite people to vote for or against specific labels on food products, sending a clear message to companies with ambiguous labelling.

Food Academies and Food Change Labs

The SFYN tank used techniques such as ‘design thinking’ and ‘pressure cooker processes’ to get the most out of multiple brains in a short amount of time. The techniques trigger fast idea formation and plant seeds of inspiration and collaboration that can grow into more established networks and projects later on. This approach is reflected in Slow Food Youth Network’s ‘Food Academies’ and Hivos’ Food Change Labs. The Academies and Labs both take a systems thinking approach, recognising that if our interventions and activism are to be meaningful, we need to accept complexity and employ a holistic approach to food.

Building future food leaders

The commonality in approaches and the collaboration during Terra Madre represented a first exploration of a partnership between Slow Food Youth Network, Food Hub and Hivos. All organisations have expressed interest in a continuing partnership that focuses on building future food leaders.

The Slow Food Youth Network will also further advocate within Slow Food International to take on one or two of the pitched-solutions as a Slow Food initiative over the course of the next two years.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is organised by Slow Food International on a biannual basis and is the most important international event dedicated to food. Amongst others, the event raises issues such as climate change, the unequal availability of food worldwide, preserving biodiversity and creating a better food system. The event brought together more than a million people from over 140 countries.