The slow food movement is not a new movement — in fact, it began in 1989 when delegates from around the world signed the Slow Food Manifesto, written by founder Folco Portinari. The movement has gained in notoriety and popularity over the last few decades in the United States.
What is the slow food movement?
The movement, which purports that we have become too tied to the industrial movement and a fast food lifestyle, asks us to slow down and reconnect to the world around us beginning with the food on our table. The main idea behind slow food is to know where your food comes from. Slow food includes food that is good for us, for the environment and for the people who touch it before it comes to our kitchen.
How did it start?
In 1986, McDonald's was looking to open a franchise in Italy, at the base of the Spanish Steps. Italians, unhappy with this move, gathered for a protest. With flair, they brought a bowl of pasta and shared it with the crowd. Sharing a meal, the crowd began to chant, "We don't want fast food, we want slow food."
In 1989, the movement officially began with the manifesto. Today, there are 100,000 slow food members from 150 different countries. Slow Food USA was founded in 2000. It has over 200 chapters and 12,000 members.
What kind of food is slow food?
Slow food is food that not only tastes good but is produced in a way that is good for the environment, the people that help produce it, the animals involved and our own health. Slow food does not necessarily have to be certified organic. Foods that are certified organic do not always take into account the additional consideration of being good for the people producing the food, and there are also many smaller farms that do not take on the cost of becoming certified organic but that are using good food practices.
Meat consumption is part of the movement, though it means eating less meat and getting it from animals who have been raised with a strong quality of life. Looking to smaller-scale farms and heritage breeds is also strongly encouraged.
What activities make up the slow food movement?
The slow food movement promotes the idea of "taste education" as a way to reconnect members to the food on their table and in their local region. Local events and activities are organized to introduce new foods to members. Taste Workshops provide the opportunity for participants to learn about food from experts. There is also a Slow Food in Schools program to educate school-aged kids.
There are local and international events or markets where local, good quality products are shown, and there is Terra Madre. Terra Madre is "a world meeting of food communities" that supports small-scale, sustainable, local economies.
Bringing the slow food movement to the kitchen
Interested in testing out the slow food movement in a home kitchen? Here are a few recipes to get started with:
The slow food movement's aim is to help us remember how to connect what is on our plate with the world around us. It is to remind us that the choices we make about which foods to purchase and consume have a ripple effect into the lives of the people making the food, the animals being raised and the planet itself. By joining the movement we can build connections to local farms and farmers markets and bring the entire family together in the kitchen.