Named from the Latin word for fortress or garrison, the Slow Food Presidia (singular Presidium) project was established by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in 1999. While the overall Presidia project objectives are numerous, complex, and regionally and culturally specific, the basic idea behind the project is a simple one – by helping unique, traditional food products have an economic impact, we can help to save them from extinction. Presidia products are foods that are disappearing in part because they were no longer profitable for producers.
The goal of the Presidia project is to guarantee a viable future for traditional foods by assisting artisan producers through such efforts as helping them to coordinate marketing and promotion, establishing quality, authenticity, and production standards for their product, and promoting local consumption. Sometimes it doesn’t require a lot of effort to save an artisan food – it’s enough to bring producers together and help promote consumption of a quality product. Other times it requires much more, from building infrastructure to strong lobbying for changes to government policies that threaten traditional production processes. It is often a group effort as well that requires coordinated effort between Slow Food International, local convivia, and other groups outside of Slow Food working towards the same goals.
The Red Fife wheat Presidium is a good example of how efforts from many dedicated people helped to bring a food back from the brink of extinction. Regardless of how a Slow Food Presidia project works, the goal remains the same – to guarantee a viable future for the rich and varied traditional foods of the world. For more information on the Slow Food Presidia and its projects, visit the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity’s website.