In times of crisis, it is not unusual to find stories of solidarity and mutual help, particularly in a large network like Slow Food's. One such example took place in the Blue Egg Chicken Presidium in Chile, and the Italian chefs of the Alliance that helped support its re-launch.
Two years have already passed since a devastating earthquake struck south-central Chile, including the Bío Bío and La Araucanía regions, where about 20 Mapuche women have always raised the Araucana breed of chicken, which peculiarly lays blue colored eggs. Two hundred thousand houses were destroyed or damaged and hospitals, schools, factories and offices collapsed. Many Chileans lost their homes and jobs, and egg producers lost many of their chickens. Additionally the earthquake completely upset the water balance in the area, causing a draught which raised the price of cereals, a staple food for chickens. Plus, the uncontrolled deforestation in 2012 in the Quillón area in the region of Bío Bío caused of a severe fire.
The Slow Food network could not just stand back and watch. A fundraising effort was immediately launched thanks to the relentless work of Italian cooks who - on the other side of the ocean - organized dinners and evenings to support the Chilean producers. In 2011, €15,540 euros were raised (the amount then reached €17,742 thanks to the online fundraising organized by Slow Food).
This does not come as a surprise, as the Alliance between Chefs and Slow Food Presidia is a network based on mutual support, where chefs have made an agreement with Presidium producers. The Alliance currently involves over 300 Italian restaurants and osteria, committed to promoting Presidia by including at least three Presidia products in their menus.
Thanks to this help, the Mapuche women got organized, recovered their lost chickens, rebuilt the chicken coops, organized the first national meeting between female Araucana chicken breeders (held on April 16, 2012, in Quillón, Bello Bosque), exchanged roosters and hens for the reproduction of the breed, and exchanged native seeds used for feed. They worked to spread the Slow Food principles, discussed the use of a brand to identify their eggs and, finally, held a series of meetings to organize and launch initiatives to promote the consumption of blue eggs.
The outcome of this last activity is the Canastas Azules. Now a community-supported agriculture group in Concepción can directly purchase boxes of blue eggs and other fresh, seasonal products from the vegetable gardens of the chicken breeders.
With the funds raised, the Alliance chefs also helped the Mapuche producers of merkén in the Araucanía territory of Nagche and Wenteche, also hit by the earthquake. The female producers participated in a training course for the promotion of merkén, where they shared and gathered traditional recipes and made dishes seasoned with merkén. Local consumption was also promoted with the presence of a few producers at the fair held every Saturday in the village of Traiguén.
To find out more:
Coordinator of Slow Food Foundation projects in Chile
tel. 0039 0172 419708