Major food issues facing the nation will be the main topic of conversation at the Slow Food Australia National Meeting in Noosa from August 7 to 10.

With a theme of “Good, Clean and Fair Food for All” the Slow Food Australia conference will highlight the importance of positive food choices that promote good health, protect local environments, build social networks and support local growers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who link the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. They defend biodiversity in food supply, spread the education of taste, and align producers of excellent foods to consumers.

Delegates have come from around Australia with special guests from Italy — the home of Slow Food — including the General Secretary of Slow Food International, Paolo di Croce and the Program Director of Asia/Australia/Oceania, Elena Aniere.

“Slow Food in many ways acts as the voice of the small farmer, who are the keepers of the genetic pool for biodiversity,” says Amorelle Dempster, Australian Councilor to Slow Food International. “If we don’t keep them look after and nurture them as well, then we lose biodiversity.”

Mrs Dempster said Slow Food Australia fed into big international goals such as the Ark of Taste, which lists endangered foods from around the world and establishes protocols and processes to preserve them and prevent them from becoming extinct.

“We currently have 17 foods from Australia listed on the international Ark of Taste including finger limes, Bunya nuts, Rosella jam and Leatherwood honey,” she said. “One of our main targets is to increase this to 200 listings in the next two years. That’s not to say that we want more native foods to become endangered but that we need to work harder to identify them now and to put measures in place to address the threat of losing our ability to produce that particular food.”

Slow Food Noosa President Erika Hackett said they were pleased to be hosting this national event and to shine a light on local producers.

“A key part of our conference program is to showcase our local producers who encapsulate the key ingredients of the Slow Food philosophy – good, clean and fair food,” she said. “We want to highlight what we are doing in this region to our national and international guests and spread awareness of positive food choices.”

Slow Food Noosa is one of Australia’s largest convivia with more than 100 members who regularly attend events and fundraise to support local projects.

This year, Slow Food Noosa is supporting patients with Dementia at Carramar to provide a Sensory Garden as part of their program. The convivium will also be sending local producers together with well-known chef and former Slow Food Noosa President Matt Golinksi to Italy to participate in Terra Madre Day. Hinterland Feijoias and Cedar Street Cheeserie will join Matt to represent Slow Food Noosa as part of a Slow Food Australia convivium in October 2014.