Taste Pavilions, Photo Credit: Benjamin Root
Slow Food Makes its US Debut
Yesterday, Slow Food Nation ended a moving weekend by looking to the future for change. 250 young farmers, activists, cooks, artisans and eaters gathered together in the city's Dolores Park as part of the Slow Food Youth Movement, showing San Francisco and the nation the joy of eating, cooking and changing the world together. The monstrous potluck featured not only a bounty of fresh food but also a dialogue about how America's youth can effectively demand clean, good, and fair food across the States. The potluckers' pleasure, found both in social change and slow food, was a theme running throughout the festival's weekend events.
Upon first hearing the words "slow food" most people, environmentalists included, immediately conjure up mental images of elitist foodies wining and dining on expensive, artisan goods. While this imagined experience certainly embodies pleasure, the leaders of the Slow Food Movement who spoke this weekend made clear that the movement's focus on the term pleasure goes far beyond happy palates.
For more on Slow Food Nation, hit the jump below-
City Hall Victory Garden, Photo Credit: Benjamin Root
Slow Food Nation Invites America to the Table
Slow Food's first American event's Taste Pavilions, featuring food ranging from pickles and olive oil to artisan ice cream, were a delicious and unexpected launch for a national dialogue about our current food system. The festival's featuring of tasty food across the city, also found at Slow Dinners and a farmer's market on the City Hall's front lawn, provided visitors from across the US the chance to soak in the pleasure of connecting with their plates. People were buzzing with "mm"s and questions as they bounced around talking to farmers about their crops, growing seasons and hard work.
Slow Food Nation aimed to show America the power of eating fresh food made with a dose of heart and a serious amount of hard work. Alice Waters, Slow Food USA's co-founder, said that tasting this kind of food is really the first step for getting anyone involved in the movement. Both she and Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement, said Americans could not stop at just enjoying these "mmm" moments. To engage in the slow food experience, they had to tap into the pleasure San Franciscans enjoyed this weekend: connecting with the producers of our food. It is this practice that the Slow Food Movement savors, one in which we become food "co-producers" rather than consumers of flavor alone.
At the closing talk of the event, Wendell Berry, often considered the father of Slow Food in America, spoke to this new understanding of pleasure by pointing out a line in the San Francisco Chronicle. The author had written, "Slow Food's strongest advertisement for itself may always be pleasure -- the neighborly connections of shopping for fresh local products, the gratification of preparing food from scratch and the communal satisfaction of lingering over a meal with family and friends." While this is certainly a list of pleasures Slow Food followers enjoy, Berry made a point that the list only included pleasures centered around idleness. He said that the movement also spoke to the pleasure of hard work, both of the farmers and workers who bring our food to our plates. This is often the piece of the movement that goes unrecognized by Americans though its founders made clear it lies at the heart of Slow Food.
Vandana Shiva Speaks on the World Food Crisis, Photo Credit: Benjamin Root
Slow Food's Future
Slow Food Nation's biggest challenge will be bringing a holistic understanding of pleasure to American dinner tables. The event, though, showed the movement was prepared to take this on. With talks all weekend ranging from The World Food Crisis to Climate Change and Food, it was clear the food movement is rising in America in a real way. It's importance will continue to grow as population increases, oil prices rise and climate continues to change.
As food generates more buzz, both in our backyard gardens and pockets paying more each week for groceries, the Slow Food USA Movement plans to act as an umbrella for food justice in the States. Vandana Shiva made clear that particularly in the US, it as necessary the movement's thoughts on issues ranging from GMOs to migrant worker rights would have to be integrated.
Slow Food offered their first attempt at this with their “Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture," a twelve point policy plan released Thursday they hope will re-direct the country's Farm Bill, a $300 billion piece of legislature that speaks to almost every aspect of both the American and global food system.
Alice Waters dreams that this Declaration, and an edible garden on the White House lawn, will make their way to DC just in time for the new president's arrival.