Celebrating Wheat's 8,000-Year-Old History in Turkey

Fresh-baked bread in Istanbul.

The history of wheat goes back a long way in Anatolia -- 8,000 years or so. In fact, the area that is now Turkey is believed to have been where the grain was first domesticated and developed as a crop. Some modern varieties date back to those long-ago ancestors.

But though bread and other wheat products are an indispensable part of the modern Turkish diet, few people give much thought to importance of the ancient grain, and what threats it may face today and in the future.

"These 8,000 year-old varieties can be destroyed if GMOs are allowed in to Turkey," Defne Koryürek of Slow Food Istanbul told TreeHugger recently. As in other countries, the drive toward mass production is also coming at the expense of agricultural variety.

Different Tastes From Different Types of Wheat
"We want to start gathering people around the idea of different tastes from different types of wheat," Koryürek said.

That idea is at the heart of today's Slow Food-organized activities in Istanbul as part of the international Terra Madre Day 2011. At 3 p.m., Koryürek and other food activists will participate in a free panel discussion, "Wheat's History, Our History." This will be followed by a free sourdough bread-making workshop at 5 p.m. and a dinner (60 Turkish Liras, reservations required) at 7:30 p.m. that features a full range of wheat-based courses, from fresh wheat salad with yogurt to keşkek, a traditional dish made of pounded meat and wheat, and even including dessert.

Celebrations Of Local Food
Elsewhere in Turkey, participating groups are organizing potluck meals, visits to sheep breeders, cooking demonstrations and competitions, olive oil tours, and celebrations at local farmers markets.

The annual Terra Madre event, organized by the international Slow Food group, is a "global day to promote good, clean, and fair local food." This year, more than 100,000 people in 110 countries are expected to take part in festivals, dinners, exhibitions, cultural events, and conferences, including events focused on the future of agriculture, food security, waste reduction, food diversity, and organic farming.

More On Slow Food
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Slow Food's 1000 Sustainable Gardens for Africa
Slow Food Takes on 'The Inedible Egg' (Video)
Slow Food Nation Event Addresses Healthy Food, Agriculture in San Francisco

Celebrating Wheat's 8,000-Year-Old History in Turkey
A bread-making workshop, a dinner featuring traditional wheat-based dishes, and a discussion on wheat's role in Turkey's history are on the agenda in Istanbul for today's celebration of Terra Madre Day 2011.

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