Is Slow Food Movement a Contradiction in Terms?


Eataly, a Slow Food-aligned store in Turin, Italy. Photo credit: lonesome_cycler

The March 2008 issue of Metropolis magazine tackles the relationship between "local" and "sustainable" from a variety of angles, giving special treatment to the one relationship that comes most readily to mind when combining local and sustainable: food, specifically slow food and Slow Food International. Bruce Sterling, who has reviewed the Voltaic solar backpack, opined on downloadable designs and predicted the future here on TreeHugger before, authors an editorial on what he calls "the ultimate irony," that the Slow Food movement is now "a global movement to combat globalism."

Ever the cyberpunk, Sterling characterizes Slow Food as the revolutionary anti-McDonalds, a collection of underground networks gone viral, each "taught to infiltrate farms, groceries, heritage tourism, restaurants, commercial consortia, hotel chains, catering companies, product promotion, journalism, and government." And the end result: the commodification of the movement's ideals for the consumption of the world's rich and elite.It is with this point that he's likely to ruffle a few feathers; the Slow Food USA blog already has a scathing condemnation of Sterling's analysis, calling him out for just about everything he says that's a perceived shot at Slow Food International. Without digging too deeply into the details of the point/counterpoint, it does raise an interesting point: is it wrong for a movement predicated on celebrating the best of local and locale to be an international force?

In a bit of a roundabout way, Sterling answers this question, noting that this cultural movement has a fundamentally different structure than the evil hierarchy of a McDonalds or Coca-Cola; by growing as a network of quasi-autonomous chapters -- the "cleverest innovation to date," according to Sterling -- they can still follow the (nefarious? Sterling seems to think so) organization's charter without wilting under the weight of ballooning growth.

Still, Sterling seems to think that Slow Food International is undertaking a guerrilla mission in elitism; "transforming local rarities into fodder for global gourmets" and he seems a little offended by this. But the question still remains: Can Slow Food remain successful and true to itself as it spreads around the globe? According to Sterling, it's well on its way. Read it all at ::Metropolis

See also: ::Slow Food: Small, Simple, Sustainable, ::Slow Food Market is Slow Good, ::Tried and Taste: Slow Food NYC's Snail of Approval and ::Slow Food Meets Slow Cook (a.k.a. the Hay Box)

Tags: Buy Local | Local Food