One of our most exciting project developments is our new connection to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity (Italy). It seems an obvious alliance.

The Slow Food Foundation is a worldwide organization that has a mission to defend food biodiversity by supporting sustainable agriculture that safeguards the environment and the land. It promotes the production of small-scale quality food products and respect for cultural and gastronomic traditions.

One of the Foundation’s central initiatives is the “Ark of Taste”, which is a catalog of hundreds of extraordinary food products that are at risk of extinction. The rice of the Cordillera certainly fits the Foundation’s criteria for listing. The native rice of the Cordillera is not only an outstanding food product with a superior flavor, appearance and texture, but also, the rice is deeply intertwined with the culture of the indigenous people. Designation to the list would be one more step in the effort to get the international recognition and someday, the legal protection that the rice and the indigenous knowledge of the farmers deserves.

Mary Hensley, Ben Watson and Vicky Garcia (taking the picture) met in New Hampshire in October 2009

Mary Hensley, Ben Watson and Vicky Garcia (taking the picture) met in New Hampshire in October 2009

With the help and assistance of Ben Watson, the US representative to the International Ark Commission, we were able to formulate a strategy for nominating the rice to the Ark.

Initially, three varieties would be nominated–one variety from each of the provinces where the project operates. The varieties include the Imbuucan of Hingyon, Ifugao (Eighth Wonder’s Tinawon Fancy), the Chong-ak variety of Pasil, Kalinga (aka Kalinga Unoy) and the Ominio variety of Barlig, Mountain Province (aka Mountain Violet Sticky Rice).

RICE, Inc.’s staff and the local municipal agriculture technicians collected the technical information needed for the applications and the applications were submitted to the Slow Food Foundation in Italy in January 2010.

Kalinga delegate Rowena Sawil (l) and Rowena Gonnay (r) inspect rice bundles with researcher Giselle Aris (center)

Kalinga delegates Rowena Sawil (l) and Rowena Gonnay (r) inspect rice bundles with researcher Giselle Aris (center)

As a result of the nominations, Vicky Garcia and 5 farmers have been selected as delegates to the Foundation’s Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy this coming October! The Terra Madre is an international gathering of over 7,000 food producers, chefs, food writers, students and educators. Every two-year, delegates from all over the world gather to discus global food sustainability issues and celebrate the gastronomic traditions of the whole world.

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Stay tuned for updates!

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