Until this week I was a board member of Slow Food Maui for over 3 years. Being part of this organization has been an honor and an educational experience that continues to shape me and my food philosophy in so many ways, it’s almost impossible to enumerate. And though I feel like I’ve been a part of or a practitioner of the Slow Food philosophy for most of my adult life, being sent as a delegate to the bi-yearly Slow Food International’s Terra Madre Conference last year felt like my life with Slow Food had only just begun. (And yes, that is Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver and Carlo Petrini in the photo! Three of my heros!)
At it’s simplest Slow Food is defined as food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients.
But in truth Slow Food is so much more. A world wide organization, Slow Food has chapters in over 150 countries with countless chapters within various regions of each country. It’s mission:
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.
Our approach is based on a concept of food that is defined by three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair.
The yearly gathering can best be described by quoting the site:
Individuals from all over the world who are passionate about good, clean and fair food make a pilgrimage to Turin/Torino every two years to be a part of the world’s largest food and wine fair, Salone del Gusto, and the concurrent world meeting of food communities, Terra Madre.
The best way I know to concisely describe Slow Food’s biggest international event is to tell you that it’s an Olympics for Food — except instead of the competitive “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” the motto of this Food Olympics is “Slower, Slower, Slower.” The convening begins with an opening ceremony, held in Turin’s Olympic Stadium. Official delegates from more than 100 countries gather to represent the very best of what their country’s food systems have to offer.
The level of inspiration I walked away with from this five day event… I still can’t distill into words. My eyes were opened to the depth of which food carries both culture, community and spirituality forward. I became even more aware of the plight of the family farmer and the danger this planet is in because of mass corporate mono crop farming. Also, perhaps more importantly I really got how deeply entrenched in pleasure good wholesome regional foods truly are.
I met people from around the world with a passion for communing with one another around the dinner table and really made a connection with how integral it is to be connected to the land you live on in order to truly savor community around the dinner table.
So much. And it was just the beginning. Since returning from Italy, I’ve already read 5 books on Carlo Petrini and his Slow Food revolution, with quite a few more stacked in my ‘to be read’ pile.
What I want you to do is go to the Slow Food USA or the Slow Food International website, if you live outside the US. Find a chapter nearest you and check it out. Check out the programs, the talks, and all the ways you might participate and gain from affiliating with Slow Food. I don’t make it a habit to plug things like this, but this is an organization that not only has the growth and healing of our food systems as it’s priority, but it re-members us into the community of Terra Madre. Mother Earth and her natural, clean and delicious bounty. Go on!