I have been an active member to some organisations. So far Slow Food has never dissapointed me.
Slow Food was founded in 1986 in Piedmont -Italy and the Italian group, having Carlo Petrini with his impecable style as leader still is the soul of the association.
Slow Food International was founded in Paris in 1989
Slow Food fights for what it's title say. The right to taste.
Our "avatar" is the snail
Slow Food /States is relatively new but we all think that our collegues in States have difficult battles to fight.
In August , I think we voted for something we were discussing some time ago here in CT, the raw milk.
I think that someone Kyle or Risa mentioned something about bread classes organised by Slow Food
Marmalady you can find everything you wish about Slow Food by visiting their excellent site. www.slowfood.com
I hope you don't PM Devotay. I mean I hope he sees that and he gives us a short report on how things are going for Slow Food/USA
I just joined Slow Food USA. It's $60/year. In the 6 weeks since I joined I have gotten info on 3 events! One is the master Sourdough Class that took place last Saturday. Another was a ham & cider tasting and the third is a Subway Safari. The Safari is a series of expeditions through the 5 boroughs of NYC. The first one is an Indian Adventure in Flushing and Jackson Heights, Queens.
While I agree with many principles of "slow food", I do find that there are certain aspects that are, well, unfortunate for an organisations that attracts so many lovers of food. Since there is an exchange of money when you join, I would strongly recommend that anyone interested read very carefully their manifesto and their initiatives before embracing it whole-heartedly.
I, for one, disagree with the following aspects of their manifesto (www.slowfood.com):
"Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model. We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods. To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction."
I find it irresponsible to discredit to such an extent the merits of industrialisation. We have accomplished more in the last century than we have in all of civilisation because of such progress. I do not wish to return to an age when there was no penicillin, no MRIs, no secure banking system, etc. I will not disrespect my forefathers who have brought about these inovations for the sake of food, no matter how much I love food. I could go on...
"Slow Food guarantees a better future."
While this may be true in my household, I think it's a bit arrogant to make such a broad and powerful statement.
We should all strive for a society based on personal freedom. I would like to think that if I want to have a burger every day, that I have the freedom to do so. It gives me comfort to know that because it is a sign of more imoprtant things that prevail. (not that I would). I think SlowFood is accusing the wrong target and I find their manifesto too militant given the subjectivity of the issue.
I know I'm going to get slammed for this, but it's just my opinion.
Sorry it has taken me so long to jump in here, I've been away.
As Athenaues has already given you the short history, I'll skip ahead in a moment and talk about Slow Food USA. I do want to add one detail to what Atheneaus said. The movement was indeed founded in Italy in 1986 by Piemontese native Carlo Petrini, then a food writer and lecturer. He and his friends were saddened to learn that not only was McDonald's coming to Italy, but they were going to have the temerity to put their first store at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome! To protest what they saw as an afront to their culinary heritage, they organized a protest on the Piazza di Spana and served Penne Pomadoro to about 100,000 people. Quite an auspicious start. Now Slow Food is in 45 countries, with 560 Convivia and 70,000 members.
Although there were "Convivia" (as our chapters are called) in the US prior to 1999, the formation of the National office was in 2000 (January I believe). Since then we have grown to 70 Convivia and 7000 members (only Italy has more!). I am the leader of a Convivium out here in the hinterlands called Slow Food Iowa. Many of you may know that this part of the country is not exactly a Culinary mecca, and yet here we are, 55 members strong and about to open a second convivium in Des Moines.
Since the formation of our convivium in the Fall of 2000 (just before the Salone del Gusto in Turin - see below) we have had a number of marvelous events. We hold biennial mushroom hunts. There are many "Slow Dinners" in private homes, farms and restaurants. Perhaps you saw one of those last Spring, when our convivium was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Next fall we are having a big food festival, called "Field to Family" that will feature a number of events around the central theme of connecting the farmers directly to the consumers. The highlight will be "Splendid Table" host Lynn Rosetto Kasper, who will be joining us that weekend, and will (we think) be doing her show from here.
Slow Food almost always has an event going on somewhere, and members are welcome at any event anywhere in the world (so are non-members, by the way, but the admission might be a couple dollars more). The biggest event Slow Food does is every other year - The Salone del Gusto, or "Hall of Taste", and the Lingotto Fiere in Torino. This is a mamouth exhibition of food. Perhaps some of you have been to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago - the Salone is like that, but no Bud, no General Mills, no Anchor Jalapeno Poppers. It's all small, handcrafed, artisinal foods & beverages from all over the world. in 2000, when I attended, over 125,000 people were there.
Membership in Slow Food does require a fee of $60, or $75 for a couple. I have always firmly believed that it is worth the fee just for the publications. Slow - The International Herald of Taste , the primary publication of Slow Food, is a beautiful, quarterly publication with some of the best food writing available today.
Please do not misunderstand. Slow Food harbors no illusions that Globalization can be stopped, nor necessarily that it should be. Our aim is not to "put McDonald's out of business." That would be an unattainable goal, and frankly, silly. But we do hope to at least provide a counterbalance, to disrupt the degrading effects that "Fast Food" has on our culture. Anyone and everyone has the right (perhaps the duty) to try to make their culture what they believe it should be.
We do not intend to stop anyone from having a burger every day, if that's what they want. We do, however, wish to point out to them that said burger will be a lot tastier if they make it themselves, and even better if they know the farmer and the butcher who provided it from one carefully raised steer.
I could pursue this topic at length with you all, and I hope this thread allows us to do so. Lastly, since quoting out of context tends to give incomplete messages, here is the entire Slow Food Manifesto, word for word. Please pay particular attention to my favorite part, the "Frenzy for efficiency" line.
"Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.
We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.
To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.
A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.
May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.
Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.
In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.
That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects?
Slow Food guarantees a better future.
Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol."
I looked around the web site for Slow Food. There seem to be some really good ideas there. I certainly support authenticity, quality, and local farmers. But I have to agree with Anneke in a way as well. I mean, it is because of industrailization and the relative wealth we enjoy because of it (and I mean "we" as in anyone who can afford to be reading this online right now- for that matter, anyone who can read period) that we are able to describe this sort of "back to basics" way of cooking/being in terms of "the right to pleasure" or "stewardship" (as opposed to necessity), or "pursuit of happiness". I think its a bit arrogant to suggest that consumption of food should be "this way" or "that way" without giving a nod to the progress/wealth that has provided us the luxury to be able to even entertain such notions.
I imagine that if I lived in a third world country where I worked my booty off every day living off the land or whatever, virtually everything in my life being about survival, everything being about as authentic & fresh as could be because I had no choice otherwise, I'd probably find slowfood.com to be slighty annoying.
Don't get me wrong. I sympathize with the concept. Anybody ever see that movie "The River" with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek? My Grandmother loves that movie. That was her life growing up. The county some of the movie was filmed in (at least I heard much of it was filmed there) still produces some of the finest tomatoes you could imagine - when the weather cooperates, anyway. Farming was a way of life for my Grandma's people - they lived off the land, made their living off of it, and used every bit of everything. But there was hardship, there were floods, and eventually the government forced them to sell their land so a **** could be built to control the flooding and produce power. In many ways, that "progress" destroyed a way of life for her people. She still gets angry when she hears about TVA. But she's an educated angry, as she and her sister were able to go to college as a result of the sale of that land, something that was very uncommon for females at that time in her neck of the woods. And that education (and the wealth that followed) eventually afforded her what Anneke mentioned - choice. Now she can get the best quality ingredients for cooking if that's what she wants, or she can go for a Hardee's biscuit if she prefers. I think she likes it that way. I'm not going to argue with her, anyway. She's kinda ornery.
Another thing I'd like to know more about, and maybe there are some people who know about these things here...
I saw a thing on TV about growing crops in certain parts of Africa and how hard/impossible sometimes it is for subsistence farmers (who farm mostly organic) to produce what they need. The argument some people make is that feeding the world through organic farming is unrealistic and that , since we already have enough trouble feeding the world, technology is a necessecity and should be used even more than it is- fertilization, pesticides, etc. I certainly don't believe everything I see on TV, and I don't have a lot of other info on this, but I'd be interested to know if others do.
I kinda knew that you would post in this thread, I am waiting for Alexia too
I am sure Rita that you know the reason of the big and prolonged starvation in Ethiopia.
You remember the pictures on TV with the skeletons that used to be people?
Do you remember the nice songs american artists composed to support them?
We are the Word, we are the people?
Who can forget?
I am sure apart from you everyone here wants to learn what happened to Ethiopia.
Or shall I say, I am going to tell you what wouldn't happen to Ethiopia if the principles of Slow Food were applied
Some corporate guys, had the bright idea to to save Ethiopians from the Stone Age, from their difficult life and from their unrealistic organic farming methods.
So they went to Ethiopia and they offered them for free ,some "impooved" seeds in order to multiply their production.You know how those Banana-republics work.
The Ethiopian State, following the orders of the big guys with the dollars made everyone use those special seeds...
But mama-nature was waiting around the corner.
You see, the original seeds of Ethiopia that might not produce so many products as we, the modern ones expect, were very strong and they could survive the difficult climate conditions of Africa.
As long as Ethiopians were farming with their old traditional way , they never starved.
Those new seeds couldn't survive a prolonged period with no rain at all.
Their fields were destroyed completely and the rest of the story, you know it, it was on your screen.
You know Rita, Carlo Petrini and his friends are not after your hamburger. In fact , they don't care at all if someone decides to feed himself with pure plastic.He has every right to do so.
To tell you the truth Rita, the real stuff, as truffles, good wine, good cheese is not enough for everyone, thank God some people insist to feed themselves with a hamburger every day.
I am gratefull to those people , I am not willing to share my pate,or my tiny bottle of extra virgin olive oil, you know.
Slow Food, tries to encourage those who resist to the kind of globalization that was described above.
We cannot offer money. We encourage them by consuming the products that they produce with the traditional ways, that's all.
We have no ways of imposing our rules.
We are not interested in imposing any kind of rules.We are consumers that we decided to support with our money whatever encourages bio-diversity.
The same way you want to have the right to eat a hamburger everyday I want to have the right to taste cheese made of true milk, meat with no hormones, real bread etc etc.
Do you recognise me the same rights with the junk-food consumers ?
Thank you for the lively discussion. As you may have noticed, I can get a little excited about this topic.
One of the most common misconceptions we confront is that Slow Food is a Culinary Taliban, a group of neo-luddite puritans, bent on taking away your microwave and chaining you to a wood-fired stove. There are those who think that Slow Food is anti-progress, that we oppose anything invented after 1899, and that our ideals and values will lead to the starvation of everyone in the 3rd world.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We do encourage old methods of, for example, making cheese or bread. We do not insist that everyone do it this way, we merely encourage. Slow Food is not a political organization, it is an educational organization. We are even recognized as such by the US Government. In the States, our membership dues are tax deductible because Slow Food is a 501-C3 Educational Organization.
We will never mandate anything, but we will push, promote and pursuade. Doing so in the face of marketing juggernauts like McDonald's and Monsanto is a bit Sisyphean, but if we don't push that rock up the hill, who will? Now, we are NOT trying to force Bubba to eat Beef Bordelaise instead of a Big Mac; but we ARE working to make sure that a Big Mac is not our ONLY option when we want a burger.
That form of standardization of taste has led to McDonald's being the world's largest purchaser of beef and of chicken, so when they say "jump," the meat packing industry has choice but to say "how high?", leaving the rest of us with little choice but to buy the particular breed they raise, or buy hamburger in the grocery store that could contain meat (this is true) from as many as 400 individual steers.
As I said in a previous post, we harbor no illusions that we can stop McDonald's practices. I would just like to be sure that when they invent Turkey McNuggets, I'll still be able to get the Bourbon Red or Naragansett breed of turkey that I want on my Thanksgiving table.
On the issue of famine in Africa and elswhere, I am sure that you all are aware that all the terrible famine that has occured over the centuries was made so terrible not by Mother Nature, but by politics and war. Famine brought on by flood or drought is nearly always recovered-from in short order unless affected by external,human forces. It's not old-fashioned, bad farming techniques that made all those Ethiopians starve, it was old-fashioned bad people. Local warlords who wouldn't let charity reach people, nor let people move to the charity, are what exacerbated a situation brought on because foreign companies paved the Ethiopian road to **** with their agro-industrial good intentions.
Rita, you had said:
"I think its a bit arrogant to suggest that consumption of food should be 'this way' or 'that way' without giving a nod to the progress/wealth that has provided us the luxury to be able to even entertain such notions."
Such a "nod" is not just implied, it is obvious and unavoidable. There has been comparative wealth in this world since Astripithicus first picked up a bone and clubbed a wildebeast. Someone is always going to be wielding the shield of progress and the sceptre of wealth. Is it not exciting to, for once, see someone wielding these things in the name of pleasure and not of pain?
None of us wants to lose the genius of Mozart or Charlie Parker simply because we now have Brittney Spears and N'Sync. We will not dispose of Citizen Cane or On the Waterfront now that Moulin Rouge has an Oscar Nomination. The Bulshoi Ballet survives in the face or Riverdance. Amidst the onslaught of popular culture, Slow Food stands for the defense of - and the right to - pleasure.
Just got back from a catering job at an Elk's lodge (who are Elk's?)where
1) I was told I couldn't have access to the kitchen because they were "using it" for the 15 or so regulars who show up on Fri. night for dinner in a different room, and
2) The room they gave me to work out of had all outlets on same breaker with most of the rest of the building so the simple equipment I brought to compensate for not being able to use the kitchen didn't work (kept making the lights go out in the men's bathroom), and
3) Some chef who feeds 15 people a night had a big attitude towards me
So... I haven't had much chance to research the TV show I mentioned in my previous post. But I did want to clarify that it was not a segment about Ethiopia. There is one link I found that addresses the issue a bit http://pewagbiotech.org/buzz/display.php3?StoryID=27
but I haven't had a chance to really look around the site much, and it looks to be a Biotech website, so one must consider the source.
Anyway, I don't have an axe to grind on either side. I'm just exploring the issue.
I think of the Slow Food concept as a way to preserve heritage; a heritage the world has of the way things are done, where they come from, and believe we should be 'mining' our elders' minds and thoughts for the knowledge they can share with us. The ways of cooking, preserving, obtaining food are so going down the tubes, as we eat more and more processed food.
I'm in the beginning stages of gathering a food and cooking/recipe history from my husband's family on both his mom and dad's sides. They both have such a rich tradition in Southern culture, yet even though they lived relatively close to one another, their food was different, ways of preparing it were different; it's fascinating to sit with them, and hear how 'Grandmama G made a lot of rice' and 'Grandmama W made mostly potatoes and biscuits'. Where did that come from? I encourage everyone to sit down with the elders in their families, and get recipes - even if it's a pinch of this and dash of that - so we can learn more about our roots, and so understand where we're all from.
Athenaeus, I never knew that about the Ethiopian crisis. Fascinating. I absolutely abhor the idea of making what Mother Nature gave us into 'more, better, bigger, redder' whatever. She gives us what is hers to give, and it's only up to us to use it in the best ways possible.
At the cooking studio I assist with, we do children's classes; the kids are always amazed to learn that pizza doesn't come in a box from the pizzeria; they learn how to make the dough; or homemade pastas; or brownies from scratch. The delight on their faces as they learn to crack an egg or stretch out a dough is wonderful to watch! We also offer a series of teen workshops, usually on a theme, that are week long; it's absolutely fantastic to see these young adults learning and getting excited about 'making from scratch'.
And I do confess - I love burgers. And I do buy frozen dinners on occasion. And I'm beginning to think that some frozen vegetables are actually better for us than fresh, because at least they're usually processed on site, soon after picking, and not sitting on the grocer's shelf for ?? weeks. But at least I feel I know where they've come from, and what went into growing them, harvesting them, and preserving them.
It's interesting to see how people are reacting to food preparation after 9/11. At the cooking studio, we have more and more folks signing up for 'technique' classes; a saute class, or bread class, and less people signing up for the glitzy 'guest chef' classes. People in this area at least are eating more at home, and fixing food themselves, rather than ordering that pizza or buying from Swanson. Bad for us in the food business, but good for the world!
Love everyone's ideas and thoughts on the concept - keep it coming!
Great thread!!! For those that have read my threads in the past I hope this is not too much of a repeat. Last year I was asked to be on the Governor's Agricultural Task Force. That meant I traveled the state with 38 with leaders in commodities, senators, reps and Dept of Ag folks. There were 6 hearings across the state....we also toured different publicly funded (taxes) ventures....
From day one it was apparent that small family farms (organic or not) were being pushed out of business. Tax dollars going to subsidize crops that were being purchased at a low rate by major corps (Dr. Bill Hefernin wrote an incredible paper on how 4 conglomerates run the majority of our food). So there are tax credits and monies available as well as research to larger producers. One of my favorite quotes is "100 pigs produce furtilizer, 10,000pigs is polution". So essentially it is not just a personal choice but it is what is being supported by our tax dollars.....unless you keep up with all of it you'll not be aware of what/where support is going.
I've been asked to help with a grant on putting gardens in homes built by Habitat for Humanity.....chicken tracktors and all (2 actually per home)....it's in conjunction with St. Louis University.
So low income people will have access to fresh garden produce and the expertise to grow, process and cook what is grown.
To get a clear version of industrialization go eat at a school or several schools.....then think of eating it every day for breakfast and lunch.