“We don’t want fast food…We want slow food!” cheered a crowd of protesters standing at the Spanish Steps in Rome, where the largest McDonald’s store in the world was opening. Slow Food movement was started in Italy by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists with a demonstration on the intended site of a McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome in 1986 with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life.
Slow Food is not only about great food and good eating. It is as much a philosophy of life as anything else. It represents a slower lifestyle, taking time out to enjoy the pleasures of life. In essence, it is the exact opposite of fast food, frenetic lifestyle of today.
Today, Slow Food has grown into a global movement, however, at its core, it still seeks to promote local, small businesses while encouraging the cultivation of regional plants and livestock. The movement now boasts of an impressive 100,000 members from 160 countries, a million supporters, and 470 presidia meant to safeguard ancient and traditional food production techniques at the risk of disappearing. In 1989, the original manifesto of the Slow Food Movement was signed and while the world has continued to change rapidly, the intention of the manifesto remains the same, “we will start in the kitchen, with Slow Food. To escape the tediousness of "fast-food", let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines”.
The movement over the course of its existence has made rapid strides and continues to create an impact with its presence. Its ever-increasing importance in its role as a guardian of traditional food is a testament to the necessity of the movement. Slow Food organizes a biennial event called Terra Madre – Salone del Gusto. Terra Madre (Mother Earth) is a series of lectures, forums, speeches and discussions and Salone del Gusto (Tasting Room) is a festival of tastes and flavours from around the world.
Slow Food-Terra Madre (Mother Earth) today lobbies against transgenic crops and monoculture, fights for the rights of small-scale farmers, food communities and fishing people, and helps save plants and animals from extinction.
Its ongoing projects include establishing thousands of vegetable gardens across Africa, fighting for better animal husbandry and highlighting issues such as climate change, land- and ocean-grabbing and the right to food that is good, clean and fair.
Amongst its flagship initiatives is also one Ark of Taste project – designed to discover, catalogue and protect endangered foods. In 2011, the Shalakh apricot became the 1000th product to be included in the Ark of Taste. As the world embraces the ideology of Slow Food, Piedmont continues to provide a great example of the right way forward, let’s take a moment to appreciate life and focus on pleasures like a traditional recipe made right.
Source(s): Slow Food International, Slow Food Manifesto, Mi o My Italy, Travels with Tricia, Travel2Next, Decanter, Niaf Blog, Italy Magazine & Great Italian Chefs