In today’s era of ever-expanding “don’t eat” lists, you may be surprised to find that the pursuit of healthy eating is ultimately in the doing. This is one aspect of the Slow Food movement. This international organization’s mission is to “preserve the pleasures of the table, the sensual, festive joy of eating, and the conviviality of sharing the experience.” Slow Food’s focus on the pleasure of eating may lead some to dismiss the movement as a gathering of hedonists. But the goal of the organization is not just good eating; it’s eating for good.
Essentially, Slow Food is a counter-movement to the creep of sameness blanketing the world’s food supply and culture. Slow Food recognizes that the “only way to preserve heirloom varieties of produce, heritage breeds of animals and traditional food ways is not by designing a museum to showcase such items, but to savor them.” Through this enjoyment, those who grow and produce these bounties stay in business so that future generations can have the same pleasure.
Although the Slow Food movement had been brewing for a number of years, its ideals were realized by the invasion of fast food culture into the heart of Italian heritage. In 1986, McDonald’s set up shop in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna. Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, was outraged by this “affront to the cultural and gustatory traditions so important to his country.” Petrini’s symbolic opposition to one fast food location quickly grew into an international movement that is represented today in 50 countries with more than 80,000 members, 12,000 of them in the United States.
The structure of the organization encourages appreciation for regional diversity. Each individual Slow Food chapter, or convivium, as they are called by members, is as unique as the food products and traditions they seek to protect. Convivia design events that reflect the local bounty or highlight a food, beverage, or process that is indigenous to a particular area. To find out more about Slow Food, visit www.slowfood.com
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