Slow food is fast food’s worthy opponent. When it comes to cooking and eating, slowing down is very positive. It allows us to take the time to better understand where our sustenance comes from and how it is produced. Having this knowledge is very powerful because it expands our awareness of how our choices as consumers have an impact in our bodies, as well as our environment.
What is slow food?
Slow food is everything fast food is not: raw, unprocessed and healthy. It is food that has been carefully and locally grown in sustainable ways, and retains its natural taste and nutritional value without chemical processing or altering. It is the necessary and most natural alternative to today’s insidious fast food epidemic and globalization. Slow food promotes awareness towards our environment, and a fair, more conscious approach to producing, buying and preparing the food we feed ourselves.
Slow food philosophy
Slow food philosophy abides by three essential pillars to define quality food: it has to be good and natural in taste and smell, clean in its practices and processes used to cultivate it, and fair to the local economy and farmers. All of these qualities manifest as a result of a producer’s sophisticated knowledge and ability to select and grow the best raw ingredients with methods that preserve their naturalness. Through this philosophy, slow food fosters education and collaboration among producers and local farmers. Consumers become co-producers, making us more active and conscious in the choices we make when we select and buy our food to improve our current harmful production and consumption systems, while taking care of the delicate environmental balance.
Slow Food International
The concept of slow food was introduced by chef Carlos Petrini and a group of food activists. What started as a protest to the opening of a McDonald’s in 1986 around the Spanish Steps in Rome rapidly expanded to what is known today as Slow Food International, a worldwide movement that has spread across six continents. Some of its main goals are to defend regional traditions, protect the environment and make consumers active participants in the way food is produced and made available to the masses.
University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG)
If you are interested in improving food production and quality, acquiring an education at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenza, Italy, is the best place to begin. Founded by Slow Food in 2004, UNISG is a private, non-profit, international research and educational institution that provides the necessary multidisciplinary skill set and knowledge to form eco-conscious gastronomes around the world. It offers undergraduate, graduate and master degrees in a variety of food related fields, such as Gastronomy, Food Innovation, World Food and Wine Cultures, Communication and Marketing, among many others.
International Slow Food events
Every year, Slow Food organizes many international events that bring together farmers, food producers and gastronomes all around the world.
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto
Since 1996, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto (which translates to Mother Earth Hall of Taste) is Slow Food’s biennial gastronome exhibition held in the city of Turin, Italy. It is the largest international food exhibition, bringing together more than 300 food producers, farmers and enthusiasts from all over the world to share their knowledge and experiences. This year’s edition will take place on Sept. 20-24, introducing new thematic areas titled #foodforchange, which include specialized panels with international guest speakers.
Slow Fish aims to promote consciousness towards the protection of our aquatic resources, environments and the communities that grow and depend on fishing worldwide. It highlights the importance of opting for wild-caught fish rather than farm-raised, and avoiding species that are in risk of extinction. It will focus on shedding light to the main issues that are affecting our water sources and how they affect the species that inhabit them. Some of the invited speakers are Norwegian journalist Kjersti Sandvik, Océans documentary producer Mathilde Jounot, and Slow Fish Caribe representative Diana Patricia Vasquez Cardenas.
The Slow Cheese network gathers cheese producers, enthusiasts, technical experts, animal breeders, veterinarians, and overall cheese enthusiasts around the world. Its mission is to promote and protect the small-scale artisanal production of cheese using raw milk. Raw milk is an essential ingredient in producing cheese with optimal quality and to protect and preserve the dairy biodiversity. Among its themes are eliminating industrial yeasts that commercialize and tamper with the cheese’s uniqueness, and the importance of protecting soil and pasture fertility, and husbandry for the animals that produce milk.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you should read How to eat healthy in a processed foods world.