Carlo Petrini V. Ferry Plaza Farmers, Round Two: The Curious Case Of The Lost Letter

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”
–Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Last Friday, we took a look at the developing feud between the CUESA farmers at the Ferry Plaza and Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini. The feud was originally sparked by Petrini’s unflattering published remarks about the farmers market’s prices and was capped off by a retracted invitation and a fiery meeting. At first glance, it appeared to be a confusing contradiction: why would a noted farmer-lover like Petrini denigrate the very types of farmers he’d always supported?

Yesterday, an astute commenter tipped us that Petrini wrote–and sent–an explanatory and apologetic letter to CUESA before the infamous sit-down meeting that proved to be unfortunately hostile. Interestingly enough, CUESA did not share Petrini’s letter with the farmers prior to the meeting. According to our tipster, it is still unknown whether CUESA has done so.

So, here is Petrini’s complete letter to CUESA, for everyone’s benefit:


I was quite surprised to learn in the past few days about some negative
reactions to a passage called *Green California* in my
just-published book, Slow Food Nation, and wanted to take a moment to
try to explain my intentions and clarify what I believe happened.

First of all, I want to apologize for any offense caused by this
passage, whether to your organization or the many farmers who are your
members and collaborators. It was absolutely not my intention to
denigrate or attack the farmers of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market - or
of any farmers market, for that matter. I hope that you will consider
the rest of my book, not to mention the range of Slow Food projects I
have founded over the past twenty years, a testament to the deep
admiration I feel for the farmers who grow sustainably and depend on the
direct market economies of farmers markets, both in the United States
and around the world. The network of farmers and food producers that we
brought together at Terra Madre has only helped to reinforce how
strongly I believe in the importance of farmers as defenders of the
earth and stewards of our future.

In part, I believe that the translation of this passage was,
unfortunately, not as accurate as it should have been, and that the
misinterpretation of certain phrases and the omission of a few key words
resulted in a tone that differs significantly from the spirit of what I
wrote in Italian. In fact, my original words were meant to demonstrate
the positive impression I had of the two farmers with whom I spoke,
based on their apparent success in making farming a viable livelihood
for themselves.

I have also come to realize that this specific passage may be
vulnerable to misunderstandings when judged outside of the context of
the chapter in which it resides, not to mention the book in its
entirety. For this I can only apologize for the imperfections of my own
writing, in my attempt to explore some of the contradictions that exist
within the highly relative concept of sustainability.

The loss of biodiversity in our food supply; the rights of migrant farm
workers; the elitism argument against organic and artisanal foods; not
to mention the twin epidemics of obesity and hunger that plague our
planet, are all contradictions which we need to acknowledge and explore
in a way that respects multiple cultures and points of view.

I believe strongly that the only way in which we can overcome these
contradictions is to create a dialogue where we face these issues with
an open mind and a generous heart, and I hope that with this in mind, we
can come to the table together to recognize our common values and chart
a path forward that unites our work in the pursuit of food that is good,
clean and fair.

In friendship/Sincerely/With respect,

Carlo Petrini
Slow Food International

Earlier: Carlo Petrini V. Ferry Plaza Farmers, Round One [MenuBlog]

Special thanks to our tipster, MFKsWolf.


Carlo Petrini V. Ferry Plaza Farmers, Round Two: The Curious Case Of The Lost