Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saving the Aratu (Part 1) - A Slow Food Brazil Presidium

Among the many projects of the international Slow Food movement is an international system of groups supporting the preservation of traditional foods, food sources and food communities. These groups are called Presidia (in the singular, Presidium). Interestingly the Portuguese translation for Presidium is Fortaleza, the name of the city in which I live. As defined on the international website of Slow Food, the purpose of the Slow Food presidia is to:
sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. The Presidia directly involve producers, offer technical assistance to improve production quality, organize exchanges among different countries, provide new market outlets (both locally and internationally).

These complex projects contribute enormously to the preservation of uniquely local foods, food products and lifestyles. Without the support of a Presidium in creating a sustainable food community and a market in which it can sell its products for a fair price, many traditional foods would have already disappeared and many more would be on the road to extinction.

There are currently 7 Slow Food Presidia in Brazil, and in the next while Flavors of Brazil will be highlighting all of them. As the products involved are very local, and their markets are often restricted, it's unlikely that readers of this blog from outside Brazil will be able to buy the products themselves. But if any of the readers of this blog feel they'd like to support Slow Food internationally or in their own country, it's easily done either at the international Slow Food website, or their own country's Slow Food site.

In the next post, I'll explain exactly how one particular Presidium, that of the aratu, works, and then following, I'll add a traditional recipe for cooking this delicate crustacean.

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