Contributed by Carol Ruiz, Principal, NewGround PR & Marketing
For much of the past century, technological advances have been focused on making work and life faster, more streamlined and more efficient. While the industrialization of agriculture, which began around the turn of the 20th century, increased production to feed the world’s growing population while lowering food prices, it did so with tremendous environmental, health, societal and economic costs.
A recent wave of books, movies and television specials have brought these costs to the forefront of the public consciousness, but all have their root in a movement that sprouted nearly a quarter century ago – Slow Food.
The "slow food" movement is a global grassroots phenomenon that has been growing since the mid-1980s. It originated in Italy with a protest against the opening of a McDonalds near Rome’s historic Spanish Steps, organized by individuals concerned about the homogenization of food. Today, the Slow Food USA movement, (which includes more than 100,000 members in 150 countries numbers 27,000 members in 225 chapters), seeks to protect local food traditions and encourage sustainability in agricultural production. The central tenets of the movement are GOOD (“Good food tastes good and respects season, place and culture.”), CLEAN (“Clean food is grown in a way that protects the environment and gives health to those who eat it.”) and FAIR (“Fair food is accessible to all and gives dignity and fair wages to the people who grow and pick it.”).
The height of the movement’s prominence and momentum in the United States seemed to come around 2008, when Slow Food USA hosted the Slow Food Nation festival in San Francisco. Yet with prominence came struggle, as the movement increasingly had to defend itself against charges of elitism leveled by critics who said that the movement’s focus on artisanal and heirloom foods didn’t take into account the ability of lower-income individuals to pay for quality food, and the belief that organic farming couldn’t scale to meet the needs of the world’s growing population.
Today, the slow food movement is still growing in the U.S., but in an even more decentralized fashion, and with an eye toward increasing the ability of all to benefit from healthier food choices, locally-sourced ingredients and educational programs. It is seen in the rise of the farm-to-table movement, the growth in farmer's markets and campaigns to support small businesses. Last year, Slow Food USA introduced the $5 Challenge which encourages individuals to cook healthy meals that cost less than $5 per participant; more than 5,500 individuals took up the challenge, hosting their own $5 dinners on September 17, 2011. Even the White House took up the challenge as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, hosting two events that showcased the ability to create healthy family meals on limited budgets. School Gardens, urban farming programs and the FoodCorps service program are all working to bring nutrition education and slow food principles to low-income communities.
Proponents of Slow Food are making great strides in changing the dialogue about food production and healthy eating in the U.S., but it is especially heartening to see the conversation go beyond food as a commodity, and address the cultural and social benefits that family and communal meals and the enjoyment of good, healthy food provide.
You can keep up with the work of Slow Food USA on Twitter.
Posted: 6/20/2012 12:09:05 AM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments