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Savour traditional food in Dec. fest

Shillong, Nov. 28: Slow food in the contemporary fast-food era is still a force to reckon with, especially when groups like the North East Slow Food and Agro-biodiversity Society (NESFAS) popularise and provide a new lease of life to the vanishing array of local food.

This year, too, the slow food festival will be held at Mawphlang village, which hosts the celebrated sacred grove, on December 13 and 14.

Globally themed as Ark of Taste and locally titled Mei Ram-ew 2013, A Celebration of Biodiversity, this year’s Mei Ram-ew (Mother Earth) day will focus on local, tasty preparations that are vanishing from our plates because of global market forces.

The society said like Noah’s Ark, that pays tribute to all things living on earth, the Ark of Taste would highlight crops that Mother Earth has gifted us and are the lifeline of human existence.

“Beyond the mere existence of edible species, the Ark deepens its annotation by emphasising the intricate and pulsating cultural practices, local knowledge and unique preparation methods that only local communities can generate and forward to the future generation,” a communiqué from the society stated.

For the first time since its inception in 2010, the festival will, this year, bring on board communities from all the eight states of the Northeast as well as their cuisine.

On December 13, the communities will gather to participate in a range of hands-on interactive workshops such as honey and millet tasting, a laboratory called Feed the Soil and a discussion on food and faith.

The rich diversity will be featured in the form of agro-biodiversity. There will be exhibitions that encompass display and live demonstrations of local handicraft, unique crops, cultural performances and local cuisines that can be savoured at the festival on December 14.

This year’s edition will also feature activities involving the younger generation. There will be drawing competitions on local food and another programme, Disco Soup, will serve as an opportunity for youth from diverse ethnic backgrounds to celebrate food delivering the motto: Cook Local Eat Local.

The society was formed in 2012 as a result of the collaborative efforts of the Rome-based Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty and Slow Food International.

The society’s chairman, Phrang Roy, is also the coordinator of the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty.

This year, NESFAS has built strong relationships with regions outside Khasi hills. It has created a millet network in Garo hills where communities have agreed to take on the role of seed sharing and millet advocacy of more than a dozen millet varieties, thereby, strengthening the NESFAS millet network in the Northeast.

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