In the years since the beginning of the Slow Food movement in 1989, it has become an international organization with a long reach. It strives for high-quality food produced in a sustainable way, standing at the crossroads of gastronomy, pleasure, ethics and ecology.
What is the Slow Food movement?
In a world where it’s easy to get cheap, processed food and eat it quickly in any place, Slow Food harks back to a different way of life. Slow Food is more of a concept of dining rather than cooking food slowly.
The movement encourages people to prepare food using locally-sourced “whole foods,” eat dishes made with body and soul in mind, and appreciate the taste of the food. It is a way of opposing the rise of fast food and a hurried life.
Slow Food means taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, starting at the table. The focus is not just on nutrition but also on preserving the heritage of different cultures relating to food.
The movement wants people to access and enjoy healthy food that is good for the planet and for those who grow it. The movement defines food through three interconnected principles – it should be good, clean and fair.
- Good refers to the quality and flavor
- Clean means production should not harm the environment
- Fair means accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.
The birth and growth of the Slow Food movement
When McDonald’s wanted to open a restaurant at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome, Carlo Petrini, a political activist turned food journalist, lead a group protest against the globalization of fast food.
The protesters brought a large bowl of penne pasta and handed it out to the crowd. Petrini began an organization called Arcigola and it was the forerunner of the Slow Food Movement that was officially founded in 1989.
According to SlowFood.com many major milestones occurred throughout the 1990s and the movement continues to grow. Slow Food has many local chapters, or convivia, worldwide.
A local convivia creates relationships with local producers – It organizes tastings and campaigns to protect local food, encourages chefs to source food locally and nominates producers to participate in international food fairs and also works to bring taste education into schools and encourages students to grow gardens.
A convivia is supported by its members and answers to the International Executive Committee. There are some larger national chapters, such as Slow Food USA.
Objectives and policies
The initial objectives of the Slow Food Movement were simply to emphasize the joys of eating and preserve local food cultures. Now objectives include broader health, labor, and environmental concerns.
The ecological and health-related concerns are about the use of natural resources, chemicals and additives by large-scale industrial agriculture and the use of fossil fuels to distribute food throughout the world. Supporting local farmers, agricultural workers and promoting animal welfare are fundamental objectives of the movement.
The Slow Food Movement does not support factory farming. It recommends that people limit meat consumption and buy it from smaller farms that look after their animals.
It is against the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The organization has a mixed stance on certified organic food, stating that farms can meet Slow Food standards without organic certification.
Three main goals
The three main goals of the movement are defending biodiversity, taste education and promoting interaction between food producers.
Globalization and industrialization have resulted in standardizing taste and a destruction of many varieties and flavors of foods. Wherever you buy fast food, it tastes the same. If you eat a burger from Burger King when you’re in Italy, you’re missing out on the local, food and disrespecting the local culinary traditions.
Those who buy food should know and support local farmers, cheese makers and anyone else who provides them with locally grown produce.
The movement believes that if you know where your food comes from, it is more pleasurable and meaningful to eat. Slow Food International holds events and workshops in taste education.
These events take place in wineries, farmer’s markets and orchards. Taste education also happens in schools where students are encouraged to grow their own gardens.
Interaction between food producers
Slow Food sees people differently than mass food producers. It promotes the concept that they are co-producers of the Slow Food, rather than apathetic consumers. The co-producers take in interest in those who produce the food they eat. They appreciate the way in which it is produced and the difficulties of the process.
Conferences, markets, fairs and other events bring together producers and co-producers. In this way, the movement promotes a wide-reaching understanding of food appreciation.
Slow Food organizations and projects
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is the operational body for the protection of biodiversity. It is currently working to establish 10,000 food gardens in Africa. Take a look at its publications to find out more.
Slow Food has an organization called the Ark of Taste. It collects small-scale quality productions, such as cheeses, breads, cured meats, animal breeds, fruits and vegetables that are in danger of disappearing within a few generations.
they have international meeting every two years where people gather to show their local and artisanal products and exchange ideas.
The Slow Food Youth Network provides a way for young active members across the world to network and raise awareness about food issues.
Slow Food and you
What does all of this mean to you? The best thing you can do as a consumer is to learn about the story behind your food and eat in a way that’s important to you.
Replace processed foods with whole foods
If your pantry is full of cookies, chips and processed foods, try to replace them with whole foods.
Eat clean food
You should get food that is organic and insecticide-free. try to avoid genetically modified produce (even if it’s a bright, red apple that’s more pleasing to the eye) .
Also make sure to eat as many of your meals as possible from natural food that is minimally processed and go for free-range poultry or grass-fed meat.
Share the Slow Food dining experience
Slow down to enjoy the taste of the food or invite a friend over to cook and eat dinner with you. If you make food preparation part of the meal, you will choose your ingredients more carefully and appreciate the finished product more.
The less distance your food has to travel, the fresher and more nutritious it’s likely to be. Visit your local farmer’s market and enjoy seasonally available ingredients. Stay away from out-of-season fruits and veggies that are more expensive.
Take baby steps
Try to learn some simple cooking techniques and start forming relationships with some vendors at your local farmer’s market. Think about celebrating your culinary heritage and sharing some meals with family. Be thoughtful about what you eat and feel good about where your money is going and enjoy your cooking.
If you want to get more involved in the Slow Food movement, find a local chapter near you and become a member. Being a member gives you the opportunity to connect with others with the same vision as you. You will receive special invitations and discounts and be able to help with projects and campaigns.