Yesterday I had the great luck to participate in a slow food event in Brussels in front of the European Parliament.
And the nice foods, the whole philosophy, the good mood and warm smiles gave me the inspiration to write about this movement today: featuring good food, long evenings, friendly faces, healthy culture and tradition… all that is really needed to enjoy life and turn it to constant balanced happiness. So after all these superlatives, enjoy this fast article on slow food 🙂
As you can imagine yourself, the whole idea and movement started in Italy in the ’80s- the year of foundation is 1986 to be exact. It was a kind of response (or, as they say, demonstration) to a McDonald’s opening on the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Their structure is really simple: They operate an International Council, then in certain countries they have national associations who cover more than 1300 local organisations (convivia). This is the 3-step structure of the whole movement, and they have 3 additional bodies- the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, the Terra Madre Foundation and the University of Gastronomic Sciences.
As an obvious opposite to fast food, the first members of the movement wished to promote enjoyable meals, slower life and gastronomic pleasure. As they put it “Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.”
You should not confuse it with other movements: slow food is not necessarily organic, biodinamic or vegan… However, of course it involves some ideas of them. Basically the followers of the slow food movement also support the principles of organic and fair production and trade, as well as they strongly in favour of local production. During the production process they pay attention to animal welfare, they are against large-scale industrial factory farms. (Seriously, you feel better about eating meat if you know the animals lived a happy life… even if generally you’re not interested in such things, right?) They also do not support GMOs.
Other important elements of the movement are food and taste education, safeguarding biodiversity, network development and connecting producers and consumers. All of these are built to support the basic principals of Slow, thus making the whole idea broader, scientifically grounded and socially involving.
Of course when there’s a successful idea or movement appearing on the horizon, also the critics arrive.
So what can they say against the good, clean and fair food? Well, according to them eating slow is simply elitist. They claim that most people cannot afford eating local and always fresh food. They also doubt that it can feed economically our global population and according to them slow food can even lead to deforestation as we would need more farmland to produce this amount of food.
Honestly, I find the answer of Carlo Petrini (the founder of the movement) really reasonable, clear and it literally gives you food for thought: How can we say that we do not have enough food and land for this idea when food waste is a really big issue nowadays in developed countries? When only Italy alone produces 4000 tons (!) of food waste a day while this number in England and Wales is around 10000 tons? How can we consider food itself a luxury when it is actually one of our most basic needs? Why should good food be a luxury and not a privilege? Why do we worship food instead of making it the most natural, but enjoyable part of our daily routine?
I hope these few lines gave you a little appetite for the issue. I encourage everyone to keep on reading and searching the topic, and if you are interested you can even check out how you can get involved or where you find their next events. But if you do not have time, mood or opportunity to go into such details, just remember: if you have a delicious, healthy dinner with friends or the family, have a nice evening chat and keep these simple principles in mind, you won’t only have a lovely night, but also make part of this lively, livable and enthusiastic movement 🙂