Italy: Food Sovereignty in Piedmont

October 19, 2013October 27, 2013

This is a Food Sovereignty Tour  brought to you by Food First/the Institute for Food and Development Policy in partnership with Global Exchange Reality Tours.

With a variety of micro-climates, Piedmont is one of the most geographically diverse regions of Italy. This diversity is expressed in a rich food culture based on complex and agrobiodiverse farming systems. You can find a large variety of agricultural products: many rice varieties, wheat and corn, vineyards, apple, pear and plum orchards, and livestock for meat and milk. The region is famous for its wines and a wide variety of specialty cheese.

However this wealth of peasant-based foods has been threatened by the promotion of industrial development, favored by shortsighted national and EU policies. In the face of these threats, small producers in the region are organizing to reinforce agrobiodiverse farming systems,  strengthen their communities and promote food sovereignty.

On this delegation, you will explore the complex realities of Italian, European and global food systems through direct contact with the producers, consumers, policymakers and advocacy groups of the Pied region. While traveling in the Italian countryside, you will visit farmer cooperatives and even stay in a farmer-owned guesthouse (agriturismo), giving you a feel for rural life in the region. You will also visit Slow Food headquarters in the small town of Bra to learn about Slow Food’s work helping small farmers conserve their local food and farm diversity.

In the face of growing threats from industrial agriculture, farmers have been organizing small co-operatives to preserve their way of life. The Valli Unite and Terra a Gente coops, for instance, produce a wide variety of traditional products and market directly to consumer groups known as Gruppi di acquisto Solidale or GAS. The Italian Association for Organic Agriculture has aligned itself with the European Coordination Vía Campesina network to fight for small family farmers, offer training and assistance in organic food production and work on shortening the distribution chain from farmer to consumer.  Piedmont-based Slow Food is also working to safeguard small, local farmers, biodiversity and sustainability.

Program Highlights may include: 
  • Visit the Valli Unite Cooperative in Costa Vescovado (est. 1981) which produces wine, grain and vegetables and markets directly to consumers on and off farm. Participate with coop members in a pasta-making workshop.
  • Visit Terra a Gente cooperative farm in Albugnano, Asti Province, which produces wine and livestock; operates an organic restaurant and markets its products directly to consumers through a GAS (Gruppi di acquisto Solidale)
  • Hike to the 13th century abbey “Santa Maria di Vezzolano” an important landmark in architectural and agricultural history.
  • Visit Slow Food International headquarters, est. 1986 in Bra.
  • Meet with the director of Slow Food Magazine and editor of Italian-language translations of Food First books (Food Rebellions and Food Movements Unite)
  • Food tour of Turin guided by cultural anthropologist; Discussion of the influence that immigrants from all over the world have had on Turin’s food culture
  • Visit the open air Porta Palazzo fruit and vegetable market in Turin, the largest open air market in Europe, and meet with the representatives of a Turin based consumers association (GAS)
  • Cooking workshop at Frutto Permesso Cooperative in Bibiana, an organic farm established in 1987 that runs educational food projects and produces and processes grains, fresh fruits and vegetables; raises local breeds of cows, pigs, sheep and bees.
Price Includes: 
  • All in-country transportation during the tour including airport transfer to and from Turin Airport (Turin-Caselle Airport)
  • Three-star hotel accommodations and overnight stays in farmer-owned guesthouses (agriturismos) for 8 nights; single accommodations are available for an additional fee of $300.
  • 2-3 meals per day
  • Food First trip leader (country expert/policy analyst), local guides, guest speaker honoraria, translators and drivers (we are committed to fairly compensating everyone who contributes their labor, time and passion to enriching our delegations and making them run smoothly)
  • Preparatory reading materials (“Reader”) and Orientation Packet
  • All scheduled program activities, including, presentations and workshops
  • Food First membership
How to Register: 

Please register Online with Food Sovereignty Tours

For more information, contact Katie at or call (510) 654-4400, ext. 223

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