A Sustainable Space

At the far east of the Decumano—the mile-long path that cuts across the Expo site from east to west—next to the Mediterranean Hill planted with figs, citrus and olives, you’ll find the Slow Food space. Just a few steps from one of the main entrances, the area covers a 3,300-square-meter triangle.

The area has been designed by Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, one of the world’s most prestigious architecture studios, responsible for London’s Tate Modern and Beijing’s National Stadium.

The structures, pared down to the essentials, evoke the typical farmhouses of Lombardy’s rural landscape. Sustainability has guided the choice of materials, with the three modular buildings built from PEFC-certified larch wood from sustainably managed forests. The simple, light, long-lasting structures have a low environmental impact, harmonizing perfectly with their contents.

When the event ends, the buildings will be taken apart, moved and used elsewhere. This is our response to one of the big questions hanging over the future of the exhibition site. The Slow Food area will not be an encumbrance on the land, and nor will it be wasted.

The destiny of the structures and the installation will be decided during Expo’s six months, with anyone who wants to offer ideas of how to use them invited to do so. The final decision will be announced before September 30, 2015.

Let’s find out more about how the Slow Food space at Expo 2015 will be organized:

  • Exhibition: Discovering Biodiversity

  • Tastings: Slow Cheese and Slow Wine

  • Events: Slow Food Theater

  • The Slow Food Garden

Exhibition: Discover Biodiversity

How can we feed the planet while guaranteeing good, clean and fair food for everyone? According to Slow Food, the answer lies in taking biodiversity as our starting point. At Expo, we will be communicating our vision through an interactive exhibition where visitors can read, watch and play, grasping the significance of our fight to save biodiversity with every step. The “Discover Biodiversity” exhibition is divided into various sections, with large wooden tables dedicated to different themes.

The Tree of Food installation, for example, shows how food is made up of many different interweaving aspects, all communicating with each other: language, culture, place, social and environmental sustainability, the five senses, conviviality and much more. Visitors can help to expand this vision by writing down what food means to them on a label and hanging it from the tree, whose branches will become ever fuller during the six months of the event.

Another installation—the Corn Man—is based on the world’s most popular crop. It will explore the industrial foods that use this ubiquitous cereal grain, identify the names it hides behind on food labels, and examine its origins and the countries that currently produce it. Small-scale food production is now set against this giant, the flagship product of industrial agriculture and a constant presence on supermarket shelves.

A huge Hourglass will represent the increasingly accelerated pace with which we are losing biodiversity, and a series of photos will show the thousands of varieties of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cattle, goats, sheep and other animal breeds at risk of extinction.

This is just the start. Different tables will display the increasing divide between food production systems. A comparison between two photos is enough to show the difference: For example, one photo showing battery chickens, trapped in tiny cages under artificial lighting, and another showing hens able to range freely around the farmyard. Indonesian jungle cut down to make way for expanses of oil-palm plantations, or a stretch of well-preserved forest.

Visitors will also be able to follow the most important steps in the history of agriculture, tracing from when humans began to abandon hunting and gathering, up to the development of farming as an industry.

A series of gigantic objects representing some of the most common industrial foods, from sodas to snacks, will be accompanied by explanations of their consequences for our health and the environment, along with suggestions for alternative options.

We’ll also be telling many positive stories. A set of screens connected to one of the tables will show short documentaries and videos, presenting concrete experiences of the food communities, the Presidia, the Earth Markets and projects from many other organizations and associations.

Get ready to walk, to discover, to observe. Bring your friends, your colleagues and your children. The more we know, and the more people who know, the more the protection of biodiversity will be a shared battle.

Entry to the “Discover Biodiversity” exhibition is free.

Some activities have been specifically designed for children.

Stay connected!

We’ll be exploring a section of this interactive journey every week in the news section of this site.

Tastings: Slow Cheese and Slow Wine

One of the most effective, surprising and joyful ways we can understand the meaning of biodiversity is by tasting it. This is why part of the Slow Food area is dedicated to the discovery of the diversity of wine and raw-milk cheeses.

The world of cheeses offers the perfect example of how plant and animal biodiversity is articulated when transformed into food. In the Slow Cheese area, you’ll see that although it only takes three ingredients to make a cheese—milk, rennet and salt—an extraordinary diversity has still sprung from these simple origins, with over 2,000 traditional cheeses made around the world. Each tells the story of different places and pastures, of different types of milk and breeds, of different animal diets and production techniques, and of the skills of the herders and cheesemakers. Every raw-milk cheese is different, each closely rooted to its place of origin. This is completely unlike industrial or pasteurized cheeses, produced with commercial starter cultures, additives and preservatives, standardized and anonymous, and replicable anywhere in the world. They have no roots, no history, no emotion, and often no taste.

Every week, you’ll be able to taste a different selection of four types of cheese: one world-famous Italian cheese (perhaps Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bitto from the Orobiche valleys, Fontina from Valle d’Aosta, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, Asiago or Sicilian pecorino); two cheeses from a specific territory, generally Slow Food Presidia (like Bagolino Bagòss or Nebrodi provola); and a European cheese. The four cheeses will be served in a round wooden box, which visitors can take home, along with their wine glass, as a souvenir of the tasting. A total of 84 types of cheese will be on rotation throughout the six months of the event.

Next to the Slow Cheese area, the Slow Wine Enoteca will be telling another fascinating story, that of Italy’s wines, grapes and vignerons. Like cheesemaking, viticulture also boasts rich biodiversity. In Italy alone, over 600 grape varieties are still used to make wine, from nebbiolo to sangiovese, perricone to fiano. The selection of wines, curated by the Wine Bank in Pollenzo (Piedmont), will offer drinkable proof of this wide diversity, with about 200 different wines available on rotation.

Access to the Slow Cheese area and Slow Wine Enoteca is free.

Tickets must be purchased for tastings:

€8 for a tasting of a selection of cheeses

€10 for a tasting of a selection of cheeses and a glass of wine.

Tickets can be bought directly at the Slow Food area at Expo.

Proceeds from the Slow Food area will be donated to the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project.

Stay connected!

We’ll be presenting the products available for tasting every week on this site, in the news section and in the calendar. You’ll get to know their typical characteristics and the stories behind each one.

Events: Slow Food Theater

The Slow Food Theater is a place for meeting and exchange, a venue for organizing talks, debates, film and documentary screenings, theatrical or musical shows, presentations of books or production techniques and much more. The events’ themes will be connected to the content of the surrounding space: biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, responsible consumption, the fight against food waste and so on.

The theater is an open space, and entrance is free while places are available. It has a capacity of 40 seated, but can hold up to 50-60 people standing. Slow Food will use this space to give voice to its network(farmers, fishers, artisans, Terra Madre food communities, national associations, convivia, Presidia, Earth Markets and businesses operating in harmony with the Slow philosophy)plus other civil society representatives, as well as authors, film directors, photographers and artists who want to present projects in line with our interests.

Want to suggest an activity?

You’re very welcome! Write to expo@slowfood.com to discuss themes, set-up, duration and dates.

Want to join the audience?

Entrance to the Slow Food Theater is free. Different activities and events will be held here every day. Check the calendar for details.

Stay connected!

We’ll be presenting the scheduled activities on a weekly basis in the news section and in the calendar on this site.

The Slow Food Garden

The final piece of the puzzle is an important one, but also something that can be created anywhere: the Slow Food garden. Since sowing our first seeds, we’ve planted food gardens in cities, in schoolyards and in small plots in the countryside, with no geographic limits. A food garden is the most effective way of establishing a close, individual relationship with the land and promoting sustainable agriculture and responsible consumption. Growing your own food means understanding its value, learning to avoid waste and appreciating seasonal foods.

The gardens promoted by Slow Food are planted with traditional varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs. They use seedbeds(so as not to buy seeds every year and to preserve biodiversity) and composters(to avoid chemical fertilizers). Plants are protected using natural methods, to avoid poisoning the soil and water with pesticides, and water is saved by practices such us mulching and localized irrigation systems, for example drip irrigation. The harvest from the gardens is eaten by the families who cultivate or use for the school meals. Any surplus is sold at local markets. There are now over 2,000 family, community and school gardens in the Slow Food network, with over 1,300 in Africa.

Slow Food will be creating its own agro-ecological garden at Expo 2015. Covering an area of around 250 square meters in the middle of the three main buildings, it will give visitors plenty of inspiration for creating their own food gardens, in raised beds or in pots on a balcony. Our garden will be productive, beautiful and functional. Traditional varieties from the Lombardy region will feature heavily, like Gambolò beans, Breme red onions, Gandino barbed corn and Voghera peppers. Along the sides will be small beds of aromatic plants; a green pharmacy, with herbs like horsetail, chamomile, poppy and fennel; and a section for plants used to make dyes.

The garden will also be a site for on-going education. Wandering past the beds, you can pick up essential tips on how to create a garden using an agro-ecological approach, while discovering the functions of different plants, understanding the best techniques for planning and cultivation, seeing how flowers can help protect crops from harmful insects and learning how to naturally enrich the soil.

Visit the garden! It’s a fun and fascinating space, full of inspiration for adults and children – a living organism with a host of flavors and fragrances.