Simply put, “Slow Food” is the opposite of “fast food.” In the purest form it is food from your own garden or food raised or caught in your neighborhood. Slow food is motivated by a desire for good health, a need to support the local economy, a compulsion to protect the local environment or a realization that you want to serve your family the freshest and most flavorful food available.
“Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”
The Slow Food Movement was started specifically to counteract fast food and to revitalize local food traditions.
It’s telling that McDonald’s represents “American food” to the world and probably explains the growing popularity of ethnic food in this country. We do have local food traditions. Sometimes they are just hard to ferret out as you drive down the commercial street that you will find in any American city of any size which features the Golden Arches, Arby’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, Taco Time, etc. etc. Is this what we want as our local food tradition?
There is local food everywhere but you won’t find it on franchise avenue. You have to dig around for the farmer’s market, food cooperatives, farm stands, or food festivals.
The island, of course, has obvious food traditions with all the seafood at hand and the ability to forage wild foods or glean from fruit trees in common areas. We have an unusually high percentage of vegetable gardens on the island (the Edible Garden Tour on July 18 will feature nearly twenty-five island vegetable gardens and there is easily another twenty-five not on the tour). As with the Slow Movement, the island also has a jump on Slow Food.
According to Wikipedia:
The Slow Food Movement incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:
▪ forming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems
▪ developing an “Ark of Taste” for each eco-region, 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
▪ 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
All of the goals of Slow Food will help prepare us to cope with whatever the future might bring.