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Slow Food in Egypt
Egypt has undergone a dramatic political change during the last four years. The time immediately after the January 25 Revolution in 2011 saw a growth in the civil society movement and increased political activism and entrepreneurial efforts. Three years later, however, the government started to crack down on civil society organizations and put pressure on foreign foundations. Within this context, a general withdrawal into the private sphere has been seen. The increased interest in urban food gardening has been one of the consequences of this process. A relatively risk-free activity, it allows people to shape and change their immediate environment and to literally grow the change they want to see. Against this background, the Slow Food gardens have a clear educational mission: The garden is used to spread knowledge about environmental and ecological topics, to teach the importance of food quality and to foster skills like responsibility, collaboration and communication. At the same time, gardeners young and old have access to fresh, nutritious produce and can learn about the traditional varieties and food cultures of their country. Beyond Cairo, where urban gardens have played an important role in building the Slow Food network, new convivia are forming around various other issues: responsible fishing (Matruh), date biodiversity (Siwa), poultry breeds (the Bigawi Chicken Presidium in Fayoum) and sustainable tourism and the revival of indigenous gastronomy in Sinai.