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Slow Food

Slow Food is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

Slow Food organization

Slow Food began in Italy with the founding of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald's near the Spanish Steps in Rome.[1] In 1989, the founding Manifesto of the international Slow Food movement was signed in Paris, France by delegates from 15 countries.[2] The Slow Food organization spawned by the movement has expanded to include over 100,000 members with chapters in over 132 countries. All totaled, 800 local convivia chapters exist. 360 convivia in Italy — to which the name condotta (singular) / condotte (plural) applies — are composed of 35,000 members, along with 450 other regional chapters around the world. The organizational structure is decentralized: each convivium has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through regional events such as Taste Workshops, wine tastings, and farmers' markets.

Offices have been opened in Switzerland (1995), Germany (1998), New York City (2000), France (2003), Japan (2005), and most recently in the United Kingdom and Chile. The head offices are located in Bra, near the famous city of Turin, northern Italy. Numerous publications are put out by the organization, in several languages. In the US, the Snail is the quarterly of choice, while Slow Food puts out literature in several other European nations. Recent efforts at publicity include the world's largest food and wine fair, the Salone del Gusto in Turin, a biennial cheese fair in Bra called Cheese, the Genoan fish festival called SlowFish, and Turin's Terra Madre ("Mother Earth") world meeting of food communities.

 

Objectives

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

  •     Eorming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems
  •     Developing an "Ark of Taste" for each ecoregion, where local culinary traditions and foods are celebrated
  •     Preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation
  •     Organizing small-scale processing (including facilities for slaughtering and short run products)
  •     Organizing celebrations of local cuisine within regions (for example, the Feast of Fields held in some cities in Canada)
  •     Promoting "taste education"
  •     Educating consumers about the risks of fast food
  •     Educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms
  •     Educating citizens about the risks of monoculture and reliance on too few genomes or varieties
  •     Developing various political programs to preserve family farms
  •     Lobbying for the inclusion of organic farming concerns within agricultural policy
  •     Lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering
  •     Lobbying against the use of pesticides
  •     Teaching gardening skills to students and prisoners
  •     Encouraging ethical buying in local marketplaces

From time to time, Slow Food intervenes directly in market transactions; for example, Slow Food was able to preserve four varieties of native American turkey by ordering 4,000 of their eggs and commissioning their raising and slaughtering and delivery to market

Impact

It is difficult to gauge the extent of the success of the Slow Food movement, considering that the organization itself is still very young. The current grassroots nature of Slow Food is such that few people in Europe and especially the United States are aware of it.

Statistics show that Europe, and Germany in particular, is a much bigger consumer of organics than the US.Slow Food has contributed to the growing awareness of health concerns in Europe, as evidenced by this fact, but on society as a whole, Slow Food has had little effect. An example of this is the fact that tourists visit Slow Food restaurants more than locals, but Slow Food and its sister movements are still young. In an effort to spread the ideals of anti-fast food, Slow Food has targeted the youth of the nations in primary and secondary schools. Volunteers help build structural frameworks for school gardens and put on workshops to introduce the new generation to the art of farming.

Slow Food Australia

The Australian slow food movement aims to increase community awareness of the value from farm to market of good, clean, local food.A campaign is being mounted to have included in Slow Food International’s Ark of Taste (nationally nominated threatened produce and food products) the following Australian foods: Kangaroo Island’s Ligurian bee honey, the Queensland-native bunya nut, bull-boar sausage from Victoria and Tasmanian Leatherwood honey.

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