I’ve been a Slow Food member for almost a decade and half. It’s been amazing to watch this international body evolve over time. Starting from a grassroots movement, it has transformed itself into a respected political entity. Initially fighting for the “right to pleasure, the importance of consciously living life at the right pace, [and] the value of cultural biodiversity.” It has since recognized the fact that there is a need for people to mobilize and protect traditional agricultural methods, heritage animal breeds, heirloom plant species, and local food heritage, which comes under fire each and everyday.
The slow food movement began in 1986, appropriately enough in Italy, when a protest was staged against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in one of Rome’s most elegant and architecturally significant squares, the Piazza di Spagna. So deep was the moral indignation it gave rise to the Slow Food organization and the rest, as they say, is history. Slow Food now has hundreds of thousands of members in more than 160 countries around the world.
In 2004, the organization took on one of its most important and ambitious initiatives ever – Terra Madre. This is a global meeting, which occurs every two years in Turin, Italy. It is an international event showcasing different food communities from around the world and providies a space for people to share their ideas, have those ideas acknowledged, and thus create and/or strengthen a network of like-minded people that continue to advance the movement. Terra Madre aims a spotlight on the injustices of a global food system that depletes the planet’s resources and compromises future generations. It also makes people think about a concept of food quality based not only on taste properties, but also on respect for the environment and fair earnings for producers. The Slow Food organization has summed this model up nicely with the phrase – “Good, Clean, and Fair”, which has become the three tenets of Slow Food’s philosophy and food production.
Initiatives the Slow Food organization continues to work on are:
- Soil fertility
- Salubrity of water and air
- Defense of biodiversity and landscape
- Acknowledgement of foods importance to our health, knowledge and memory
- Defending farmer’s rights and encouraging young people to get into agriculture
- Waging a war against waste
- Encouraging local economy and participatory democracy
- Taste education: understanding the pleasure food, conviviality and sharing
If you are interested in learning more about Slow Food, or maybe even becoming a member, I suggest you visit the official website – www.slowfood.com. Also, Carlo Petrini, the movement’s charismatic founder and spokesperson, has written a number of books that would provide you with more in-depth information about the movement, the organization, and its initiatives.