slow food

slow food

“Slow food unites the pleasure of food with the responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature.”  – Carlo Petrini, Slow food founder and president

What is slow food?

With the start of Terra Madre and Salon del Gusto (literally: Exhibition of Taste) this week in Torino, Italy, what better time is there to talk about slow food?  You’ve heard of fast food, but what is slow food?   As USA Today explains: ‘Slow food aims to be everything fast food is not.’   Its philosophy is that everyone has the right to the pleasure of good wholesome food but also the social responsibility to protect the heritage, traditions and planet that make this pleasure possible.  This movement opposes the standardization of culture and taste (such as seen in fast food restaurants) and the unrestrained power of the food industry multinationals.

This non-profit organization describes itself as being at the crossroads between ecology and gastronomy, ethics and pleasure.  Slow food is a global movement that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

Principles of the organization

The founding principles lie in the belief that everyone has the right to good, clean and fair food.  Although these general terms can mean different things to different people, they are further explained:

  • Good:   Local and seasonal foods and dishes from healthy animals and plants, created with care.  Appreciating and celebrating the enjoyment of fresh, flavorsome foods can also help build community and celebrate cultural and regional diversity.
  • Clean: Nutritious, chemical-free foods.  Promoting biodiversity and sustainability; therefore promoting and protecting fruits, vegetables, grains, animal breeds and cooking traditions that are in danger of disappearance.  Clean also means encouraging harvesting methods that are eco friendly.
  • Fair: Pleasures of good food accessible to consumers at reasonable prices.  All producers treated with dignity and justly compensated.

Origins

Slow Food was born in Bra, the hometown of Slow Food’s president Carlo Petrini, in the Langhe region of Northern Italy.  Mr. Petrini started his movement succeeding a protest in Rome against the opening of a McDonald’s fast food restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome.  The Langhe region is famous for its local wines, truffles and cheeses. Bra, like other places in Italy cherishes the values of eating locally, pleasurably, slowly and socially.  The international slow food movement was officially founded in Paris at the Opéra Comique where the Slow Food Manifesto was signed.

Slow food’s vice president is Alice Waters is an American chef, restaurateur, activist, author and one of the most visible organic food movement supporters.  Her ideologies reflect Slow Food USA perfectly, which has more of a grassroots focus  on food education and awareness.

Why is slow food healthy for YOU? 

You may be asking yourself: What does naturopathy have to do with slow food?  Well here are a few key points where we see eye to eye:

–          Eating slowly: Consciously taking the time to enjoy a meal with friends or family isone of life’s small pleasures, which not only has a positive impact on your morale but also on your nutrient absorption and digestion.

–          Eating local: fruits and vegetables that mature in a container or supermarket rather than in a field a few days before being eaten have a higher vitamin and mineral content.  Foods imported into Canada, for example, arenot subjected to much control and it is virtually impossible to find out what the foreign producer used on their crops in terms of pesticides and herbicides.  In 2010 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ‘s own auditors determined that food imported into Canada arrived on grocery shelves without proper inspection.  Numerous studies show the situation is not any better in the United States.

–          Eating pesticide, GMO and chemical free – see upcoming article

–          Eating seasonal – see article

–          Focus on education – Slow food places particular attention on food and taste education.  Naturopaths recognize that knowledge is key to getting people to adopt healthier eating habits. Many studies confirm that level of education corresponds with healthier living habits.  Learning to appreciate different tastes and flavors enables us to reap the benefits of a wide variety of nutrient dense foods.

Getting a taste of Slow Food Locally

Slow food interests you and you’d like to learn more?

The organization is present in over 150 countries and puts together events all over the world.  If you live in Canada or the US check out the following site for more information on upcoming events.

 For those currently in the Torino region, visit the Salon del Gusto and Terra Madre, taking place this weekend.  You will be able to discover slow food through food educational activities, conferences, taste workshops, master food courses and meetings with the producers.  You’ll also be able to taste foods and drinks from all regions of Italy and from all over the world.

In light of the powerful food lobbies, manufacturers, and GMO producers, grocery shopping has never been so political.  Shedding light and educating people about where our food comes from and keeping food culture and biodiversity alive is what slow food is all about.  Investing in one’s health goes beyond eating your vegetables and having a balanced diet.  What is your food made of?  How was it was cultivated? How do the producers treat it and where does it come from?  Eating South African avocados in January…is that really healthy? Are you voting with your shopping cart?

Slow food satisfies both appetite and conscience.