You’re unlikely to find Slow Food served at your local drive-thru. In fact, most people would argue that Slow Food is the antithesis of fast food. The Slow Food movement embraces the traditions and cultures involved with food production. It also seeks to provide healthy, affordable food that is created in an eco-conscious manner. This philosophy is in stark contrast to fast food’s focus on efficiency and convenience. If you are interested in the increasingly popular Slow Food movement, there are five things you should know.
The movement began as a grassroots effort by the Italian journalist Carlo Petrini in the late 1980‘s and was formerly introduced through the organization called Arcigola. This group is best known for its 1986 protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in the heart of ancient Rome. Arcigola and the residents of Rome detested what they viewed as the “Americanization” of Italian culture and the degradation of the country’s proud cooking tradition. In 1989 representatives from fifteen countries joined to sign the “Slow Food Manifesto.” This act brought the Slow Food movement onto the international stage and solidified the movement for future generations.
The principles behind Slow Food and Certified Organic foods are similar but not the same. Slow Food proponents don’t always support organic farms. Many in the movement view the “certified” label as unnecessary and its regulations burdensome on small, local farms. Furthermore, the high prices of approved foods negate Slow Food’s mission to produce affordable, healthy foods.
Slow Food products include meat as well as grains and vegetables. However, reliance on meat is not as substantial as it is with other eating styles. Meat is consumed to the extent that it is available from small farming operations. The animals involved in small scale meat production must also be raised in a manner that promotes quality of life and healthy livestock practices. The end effect is that meat is consumed less frequently than in typical diets.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are excluded from the Slow Food diet. Slow Food advocates denounce commercially produced GMO crops and GMO-based animal feed. GMOs are inconsistent with Slow Food’s philosophy in that they are not environmentally safe, they are grown by large corporations, and they clash with local food traditions.
As an organization, the Slow Food movement has chapters in over 100 countries and over 100,000 members. The organization promotes the principles of slow food through education, political activities, and research. There is even a gastronomy school in Italy which was founded by Slow Food members. The Slow Food movement is serious about its beliefs, and its work reaches throughout the globe.
In essence, Slow Food is all about living the quiet, unhurried life. It is about enjoying the entire food process from planting to consumption. It is also about preserving regional traditions and maintaining diversity. Slow Food’s purpose is to provide clean, healthy food for the masses. Most will agree it is a welcome return to the old days in a world full of technology and instant gratification.