Article: Conference Re-cap

Written by Cafe Campesino on Mar 6, 2010 in Article, NEWSLETTER |
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Georgia Organics’ 13th Annual Conference Recap

Eating is sacred. Food should not be wasted. Reclaim your food system. Reclaim agriculture! If there were a rallying cry at the 13th annual Georgia Organics conference held in Athens Feb. 19-20 – “Reclaim your culture! Reclaim Agriculture!” –was it.

Leading that rallying cry was a gray-bearded Italian man who kept an audience of more than 1,000 hanging on his every word through the help of a translator. Carlo Petrini, Slow Food founder and conference keynote speaker, urged attendees to demand healthier, locally focused food production systems from politicians and decision makers. He also boasted that within one day of arriving in Georgia, he had become a fan of a Southern delicacy- collard greens and potlicker.

Celebrating traditional dishes, supporting local, organic food production and working to reclaim agricultural systems was the theme of this year’s Georgia Organics conference, and Caf� Campesino was proud to be a part of it.

Tripp and Bill led a Saturday educational session on Fair Trade discussing its role in the food system, drawing parallels between it and the organics movement and underscoring the commitments of Caf� Campesino and Cooperative Coffees to the principles of both.

Their presentation on Fair Trade was one of the many opportunities for best-practice sharing that filled this conference- including specialized workshops and intimate farm tours- that offered attendees with the tools and support they will need to carry this vision of a changed food system into reality.

The practice of collaborating with local farmers and bringing healthy, locally grown food options back into schools, homes and restaurants is gaining momentum and receiving attention statewide. In the few weeks since the conference, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Athens-Banner Herald, Atlanta’s Finest Dining, the Macon Telegraph, Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and other publications across the state have written about Georgia’s sustainable food movement.

And this discussion would likely still be on the back-burner if it weren’t for the vision and commitment of organic farmers throughout the state, the support and organizing capacity of Georgia Organics and the dedication of individuals committed to the movement.

Some of these individuals were honored by Georgia Organics during a short awards ceremony held at the Saturday night Farmers’ Feast where Mr. Petrini presented. Andy and Hilda Byrd of Whippoorwill Hollow Farm were honored with the Georgia Organics Land Stewardship award, which recognized their energetic commitment to the organics movement that has included building and growing two farmers markets in the Atlanta area and serving as committed mentors to new farmers.

Julie Shaffer, Emory University’s Sustainable Food Service Education Coordinator and founder of Slow Food Atlanta, was also honored with the Barbara Petit Pollinator Award for her work to promote the local food movement in various restaurants, schools, institutions and public agencies across the state.

Georgia-based chefs who are leading the farm-to-table movement in the restaurant industry were also recognized. They included Ron Eyester of Rosebud, Michael Deihl of East Lake Golf Club, Bruce Logue of La Pietra Cucina, Shaun Doty of Shaun’s, Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia, Floataway Caf� and Abbattoir and Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, who organized a dinner that pulled together the talents of these chefs and others to serve more than 1,000 people.

Chefs, farmers, foodies and revolutionaries – Georgia Organics pulled them all together for a delightful, delicious and energized conference. Job well done. And rest assured, we’re ready to keep the momentum going.

Dovetailed with the GA Organics conference was a Slow Food AtlantaFamily Dinner. Here’s our summary of that delicious event:

It is hard to beat good southern cooking, especially when the vittles are prepared by an all-start cast of Atlanta’s best chefs! On February 21st, it was our privilege to provide the coffee for an evening with Slow Food International (www.slowfood.com) Founder Carlo Petrini at a Slow Food Atlanta Family Dinner hosted by downtown Decatur, Georgia’s famed Watershed Restaurant. In addition to sharing five courses of reinterpreted southern family recipes – each course inspired by a food memory from the preparing chef – we enjoyed a word from Carlo on the importance of Terra Madreand the future of the Slow Food movement. We were also enchanted by the talent of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and a co-owner of Watershed singing a few of her (and our) favorites. Bill represented Cafe Campesino at the event and said he just didn’t want the evening to end! A big thank you to Judith and Slow Food Atlanta for including us at the Family Dinner and in your important work!

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