"When I first decided to get involved with Slow Food, I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into." Eduardo Correa, the secretary for the Del Bosque Convivium in Mexico City, is telling us how his adventures with Slow Food began.
"I knew that it was an association with a well-developed Mexican network, which organized events and activities in collaboration with local convivia," he continues. "To my great surprise I discovered that it was much more. It was a movement that was evolving, that wanted to develop and grow within the country. I immediately realized that I couldn't miss this opportunity, particularly at a time of significant change such as now, and I wanted to play an active part."
But it was not easy at first. "The more I got involved, taking on jobs I was given, the more I realized how little I knew about the issues. Often I didn't have the faintest idea what people were talking about when they said things like ‘Participatory Guarantee Systems' or ‘agroecology.' It was like a foreign language. It was appealing, but incomprehensible."
Despite his initial problems, Eduardo did not give up and soon fell in love with the project. Slow Food helped him to better understand the situation in Mexico, particularly Mexico City, where he has spent 28 of his 29 years. "I had considered places like the chinampas floating gardens of Xochimilcocome just a tourist attraction, without thinking that they could be an important agricultural resource for the city," he admits. He was also shocked at the rapid pace of urbanization, at the expense of the few remaining pockets of green.
It was the El 100 market that gave him the opportunity to gain practical experience. Here Eduardo learned the essential information he needed about the sector. Situated in a peaceful park in the heart of Mexico City, every Sunday the market's captivating atmosphere and magnificent array of fresh produce become a magnet for local inhabitants. A regular visitor to the colorful market, Eduardo quickly became close friends with many of the producers, whom he considers personal heroes. "A few examples? Aurelio di Granja Los Cedros. An architect by profession and the producer of the best tomatoes Mexico City can offer. Or Emma and Abele of Casa Tlalmamatla, who create added value for our traditional agricultural economy by transforming and commercializing products made using milpa [a crop-growing system widely practiced throughout Mesoamerica]. Also volunteers like Erika, who without receiving a cent invest their time and energy to support the market."
The El 100 market is not just any market; it has recently joined the network of Slow Food Earth Markets. El 100 is a place where people congregate, where culinary professionals can meet with producers and artisans to exchange tips, products and knowledge. It is founded on a common passion for an agriculture that respects the local area and local resources. It brings together many people with a single objective: to help this massive megalopolis reconnect to the essential values of good, clean and fair food.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that the development of El 100 is closely linked with Slow Food. The association inspired its founders to create what we have today. The time has come for us to combine forces to encourage Mexico to change course," he says. "Joining the Earth Markets network is just a first step, but we have to start somewhere!"