The grassroots Slow Food movement has been gathering converts around the world ever since its founder, Carlo Petrini, organized a demonstration against the fast food giant MacDonald’s in Rome, more than twenty-five years ago.
Petrini founded the non-profit Slow Food organization to promote the idea that everyone, everywhere, deserves good food, sustainably produced. And it’s not just the farmer’s responsibility to provide that food. It’s our responsibility to be more aware of what’s in our food, where it came from, and how it is grown. This way everyone encourages world-wide agricultural sustainability, and moves away from the unhealthy processed foods we have become so reliant on.
One of Slow Food’s most important achievements has been to develop a network where breeders, farmers, fishers, and artisanal food producers from all around the world can connect with the people who prepare and consume their goods.
The Terra Madre (Mother Earth) Network, http://www.terramadre.org/ was created in 2004 in an effort to build an ecologically responsible international food community. It now has over 7000 food producers, cooks, academics and educators, who share their knowledge of, and vision for, sustainability. On the Terra Madre website you can search the world for produce and products, find organic cheese producers in Northern California, hazelnut growers in Chile, organic beekeepers in New Zealand, and fig growers in Italy.Every two years a Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy draws thousands of food producers, cooks and academics, as well as the general public, to share ideas and developments in the world of sustainable food production.Slow Food now has branches in over 150 countries, with over 200 chapters in the U.S., spreading their message through local and regional projects and events. The organization has initiated programs to promote biodiversity, and they’ve been active in campaigning for reforms in the Food and Farm bill.
Slow Food believes that our food preparation and consumption should be a communal, enjoyable experience, shared with family and friends, not just a chore performed on automatic pilot in a hurried world. A deeper respect for our food will organically encourage sustainability.
By Diana Leszczynski