Our Food, Our Planet, Our Future – Everything is connected

26 February 2020

Food, planet, future.

The tagline of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 is apparently simple, and identifies a chain of relations that should be clear to all of us, even if we don’t always notice it.

Aish Merahrah bread, Ark of Taste, Egypt. Photo: Marco del Comune and Oliver Migliore

Our relationships with our food – how we produce it, distribute it, choose it and eat it – have enormous impacts on our planet, and consequently, our future.

A few years ago, we read the hilariously funny and deadly serious book What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, in which physicist, programmer and cartoonist Randall Munroe (perhaps best known as the author of the xkcd web-comic) answers bizarre questions like “What would happen if everyone on Earth gathered in one place and jumped at the same time?” with rigorous scientific accuracy.


Beyond the ludicrous hypothetical questions, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask ourselves some questions about out food, and to think about some of the paradoxes present in our diet (which are often no less absurd than the propositions in Munroe’s book).

On the one hand… what would happen if we all ate exclusively imported food? If we only ate a single type of fish, or a single cut of meat? If we ate meat without thinking of the world of industrialized farms it comes from, stopped worrying about pesticides, and accepted the ecological collapse of bees and other pollinators with a shrug?

On the other hand… what would happen if we all ate local food and never used any plastic packaging? What would happen if we gave up on the idea of eating meat at least once a week? What would happen if we reduced our food waste by half?

Unfortunately, the future of the planet seems headed in a bleak direction with little hope because many of us – too many – don’t ask themselves these questions, and don’t realize the enormous environmental and social impact of the food we eat. We’re not used to considering cause-effect relationships, and think selfishly, without considering that our individual bad habits (for example eating meat multiple times daily) have devastating consequences when they become the worldwide norm.

Chiltepin Pepper, Ark of Taste, USA, Photo: Marco del Comune and Oliver Migliore


At Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 we’ll imagine a variety of potential future scenarios, and to exert our influence now – because we’re running out of time – on which kind of future lies ahead.

We’ll try to do this by taking four ecosystems into consideration – four wide and diverse spaces, the sum of all the physical conditions and coexisting organisms which live within them, interconnected:

  • the Highlands
  • the Water Lands
  • the Lowlands
  • the Urban Lands

These worlds will be key to understanding where we’re going and identifying the corrective action needed to ensure a better future.

Stay tuned and keep reading for further insights!

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