Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SLOW FOOD in the U.S.

With all the press recently about food safety and the morbid obesity epidemic, I decided to feature a movement I support, the Slow Food Movement and SLOWfoodUSA.

SLOW FOOD originated in Italy by Carlo Petrini in 1986 in reaction and opposition to the opening of a Mc Donald's in Rome near the Spanish Steps. The name is meant to evoke all that is opposite or contrary to the fast food movement.

Initially focused on preserving traditional and regional cuisine and promoting farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem, the slow food movement has expanded its scope and offers intriguing ideas about how and what we eat affects our lives.

This would be the French concept of terroir which literally translates into 'land'. In reality, terroir really refers to the unique characteristics of any area (soil, geography, culture) that produce unique foods, and that these unique foods are integral to our culture, the environment, and our food enjoyment, and need to be protected.

While most commonly associated with more celebrated products like champagne (from the Champagne region of France) for example, even a relatively young country like the U.S. has it's own terroir - vidalia onions, vermont cheddar and maple syrup, georgia peaches, and washington apples.

Terroir could also include items like Buffalo chicken wings, spedie meat (Binghampton, N.Y.), or scrapple in the South. Perhaps not as refined as champagne, but ours....all ours nonetheless!

SLOW FOOD has since grown into an organization with over 100,000 members in 132 countries.

The Slow Food movement incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:

  • promoting the preservation of heirloom varieties of plants and heritage breed livestock.
  • development of the 'Ark of Taste' for foods of exceptional quality or in danger of extinction
  • preserving and promoting local food traditions
  • organizing celebrations of local food items and traditions, often in the context of community.
  • promoting food education including the risks of 'fast food', the antithesis of 'slow food'
  • education about the risks of large agribusiness and factory
  • education about the risks of monoculture
  • promoting the preservation of small and family farms
  • lobbying for the inclusion and promotion of strong local food systems, increased organic and sustainable farming
  • lobbying against genetic engineering and GMO products in our food chain
  • lobbying against the use of pesticides
  • encouraging ethical buying in the marketplace such as fair trade products

Recent events organized by Slow Food USA include:

Pie on the Porch, Miami, FLA Sept 25th, 2010

Clash Farm to Table, Falmouth, MA Sept 26th, 2010

Whatcom Harvest Dinner, Ferndale, WA Sept 26th 2010

Heirloom Harvest Farm Barbeque, Exeter, RI Sept 26th, 2010

Screening of 'Grown in Detroit', St. Louis, MI Sept 27th, 2010

Pawpaws & Persimmons, Ann Arbor, MI Oct 2nd, 2010

Sounds awesome, doesn't it!

I think slow food represents an organization working towards a food delivery system that we could all live with. A 'slow'-er America would help to reverse some of the damaging affects that our 'modern' agricultural system has had on our health, our environment, and our culture.

As SLOW FOOD puts it: 'supporting good, clean, and fair food'! I couldn't say it better or more simply myself.

Take a minute and look over the Slow Food USA home page and consider becoming active in your local Slow Food Movement!

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