Images from L'Anima
The Slow Food movement started in Italy in 1986 as a protest against the fast food culture and the loss of appreciation for local foods. Regarded as elite in the beginning, now its philosophy and membership have spread all over the western world. However it has never really caught on in Great Britain.
Britain seems like a natural for it, with so many artisanal food makers and organic markets throughout the country. Slow Food UK should be a centre for those wanting to protect endangered regional foods and food traditions. The Ecologist has an interesting article about the movement's "rebirth" and growth in the UK in the last few years.
Image from South Bank Centre
Some things are odd about the Slow Food organisation. Their terminology is off-putting: there is the Ark (where endangered foods are showcased) and the Conviva (another name for chapters). The new UK director says "We have to make sure Slow Food fits into an Anglo-Saxon environment."
To do this, they have enlisted the support of a stellar group of Trustees and supporters. These include Craig Sams (former owner of Green & Black chocolate) Peter Kindersley (Sheepdrove Organic farm) and Prue Leith, a respected cookery teacher. They all have strong links with the many food organisations in the country.
Image from L'Anima
The article outlines some of the activities carried out by the 50 chapters in the country. The Slow Food Dorset group has helped promote Southwest England's Portland sheep and Somerset cheddar cheese. In Cornwall, the local group supported Cornish Pilchards and the Fal oyster fishery, the only stock of native oysters fished entirely by man and wind power and now threatened with extinction. In the Midlands, there has been a campaign to save Three Counties Perry, a fermented juice made of endangered perry pears.
A big area of discussion is how Slow Food artisanal producers can work with supermarkets. Since most people shop in them and small business people need orders, there has to be a balance between the huge demands of the supermarkets and the ability of artisanal producers to supply their needs or else lose out.
How to support the Slow Food Movement? Shop at local, independent stores, learn about and buy local foods that are produced near where you live, and...become a member.
More on Slow Food
Slow Food, Simple, Sustainable
Slow Food London: Autumn Festival
Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini On Local Eating
Ten Things to Eat Before They Die