In contrast to the monoculture of fast food quickly overtaking the globe, the Slow Food Movement is a grassroots organization started in Italy that strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages the farming of plants and raising livestock that are characteristic to the local ecosystem. It is a movement that emphasizes local resources and preserving cultures and traditions.
Now a worldwide phenomenon that encourages quality over quality and regional self sufficiency, Slow Food has several objectives that can be described as the Seven Pillars of Slow Food.
- Provide access to good, clean, and fair food;
- Preserve and encourage agricultural and food biodiversity by forming ans sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties;
- Encourage small-scale food production and processing;
- Practice food sovereignty and discourage agricultural corporations and governments from dictating which crops to grow and not to grow;
- Preserve culture, language, and traditional knowledge of local food and agricultural methods and celebrate local culinary traditions;
- Practice environmentally responsible food production;
- Practice sustainable trade and fair-trade to encourage ethical buying in a local marketplace;
- The direct impact of the Slow Food Movement is hard to measure. Some success stories of the movement include the saving of several heirloom breeds of livestock and produce from almost certain extinction. Lobbing governments to ensure laws and regulations do not overly burden small farms. And, educating communities about the dangers of industrial agriculture and the benefits of local farms and cuisine.
A number of specific programs have been created and are run by the Slow Food Movement. The Ark of the Taste program has cataloged hundreds of foods in danger of extinction and encourages renewal of interest in these foods. The Terra Madre Network is an international initiative that encourages global sustainability and small farms. Slow Food on Campus is just what it sounds like, encouraging slow food tradition in colleges, universities, culinary schools, and high schools. In addition to these, a number of other programs exist to promote sustainable living and local food.
Chapters of the Slow Food movement are prevalent throughout the globe, especially Europe and America. Visit slowfood.com or slowfoodusa.org to find out how to connect with other slow food enthusiasts in your neighborhood. -KATHY FAIRCHILD