Learning about the Slow Food Movement
Lindsey Thomas, Charleston West Virginia
When I found out that this week’s theme here at Robin Wade was Slow Food, I had no idea what is was. I wondered, was the Slow Food movement something like the vegetarian or even the raw food movements? I live in West Virginia; those movements haven’t quite hit here in the same way that they’ve hit places like California or New York, and I had never heard of the Slow Food movement until I started this internship. Thus, I needed to do some research- one of my favorite things to do- to figure out what exactly “slow food” means.
The first website I checked out was Slow Food USA, a national organization with chapters across the country that sets out to promote access to locally grown and sustainable food, as well as a belief that “everyone has the right to good, clean, and fair food.” That gave me the gist of what Slow Food was all about, but it didn’t really give me a good understanding of what Slow Food was at all, so I needed to dig deeper.
I then looked into the Slow Food movement’s international website, Slow Food. According to this site, this movement was founded in 1986, when the Arcigola association was founded in Italy. Note: Wikipedia’s Slow Food page says that it was founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, who headed the Arcigola group which tried to stop McDonald’s from building a chain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome.
From there, I learned that the Slow Food movement isn’t just about giving everyone “the right to good, clean, and fair food.” The Slow Food movement is all about bringing food back to how it was before fast, processed food became so popular, to when food was locally grown and sustainable. Slow Food practitioners also believe in protecting the heritage, traditions and cultures of food and the grassroots ideology of accessible and reasonably-priced food for all, so that everyone can eat a healthful diet. The Slow Food movement also fights for small-scale producers to make sure that they, too, get fair wages and treatment, especially by governments. People who follow these ideals shop for their food at farmers markets or buy directly from those who grow the food. They avoid processed food, meaning that going to McDonald’s for a Big Mac is out of the question.
The Slow Food movement has over 1300 chapters across the globe, in countries from the United States, Canada, China, Japan, India and even Chad and Niger. All of these smaller groups combined have over a hundred thousand members who all strongly believe in preserving food’s rich history, natural state and clean, safe food for all. These chapters participate in activities like presideria projects (sustainable food production), taste and food education presentations within their communities, and organizing events like Slow Fish and Salone del Gusto.
Slow Food isn’t just about making food accessible and healthy for all; Slow Food rejects mass produced, processed food and consumerism through big box grocery stores in order to retain traditions and heritage while they support local farmers. Slow Food is an attempt to return the state of food back to where it was before it became overly manufactured while making food fun, healthy, and enjoyable once more.