In a place like Italy, where gastronomy is so richly embedded in the culture, there has always been a deep appreciation for food. However, with increasingly fast paced lifestyles, population growth, and evermore emphases on efficiency and productivity, the quality of food has been surpassed by a fixation on mass quantity.
Fast food restaurants began developing in response to the rising demands for quick, cheap and easy meals. This idea originated in the United States but quickly spread to European Asian countries. Unfortunately, a notion that was originally intended for convenience and affordability has now become detrimental to the gastronomic traditions of other cultures, Italy included.
In 1989, a grassroots association called the Slow Food Movement was established to regain a cultural mentality that shuns the expediency of fast food restaurants. The Slow Food Movement seeks to address as well the global effects of fast food production, since where, by whom, and what kind of food is produced all affect the world on various social and environmental levels. Therefore, the motive of this organization is to inspire a thoughtful and proactive consideration of how food impacts our lifestyle and the environment.
The incentive for the Slow Food Movement goes back to 1986, in reaction to the opening of the first McDonald’s in Italy, outside the Spanish Steps in Rome. Carlo Petrini, a food and wine journalist, was deeply upset by the infiltration of fast food restaurants and the homogenization of food around the world. When the first McDonald’s opened in Rome, Petrini expressed his disapproval with a demonstration of freshly baked pizzas in front of the establishment.
After three years of promoting his campaign against fast food, Petrini accumulated over 10,000 members. Then, in 1989, Petrini’s slow Food Movement was officially founded in a determined effort to save regional foods and small producers from an unpromising future, and to reinstate values of authenticity and awareness.
Slow Food’s motto endorses “good, clean and fair food” and the movement advocates for this within several areas: the protection of food biodiversity, encouraging sustainability and fair trade in the world, creating networks among farmers, food producers and companies to enable discussion and cooperation, food and taste education, and consumer- producer interaction.
Projects that foster understanding of food production and what it entails are fundamental to the social change exemplified by Slow Food philosophy. Additionally, bringing consumers and food producers together is the ideal manner to pass on knowledge and food appreciation. Slow Food organizes a wide variety of projects, events, fairs, and festivals to cultivate enthusiasm and support from individuals interested in preserving cultural diversity and passion for food. With support in over 150 countries, Slow Food is changing the way people think about food, where it comes from and how it is produced.
Getting involved in the Slow Food Movement is an enriching way to promote sustainability, awareness and a healthy lifestyle. With members in 153 countries and with nine national branches in Italy, USA, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Japan, France and the Netherlands, numerous opportunities to be a part of this positive progression towards balance and nutrition exist. Not only does Slow Food encourage this mindset in restaurants, farms, markets and large- scale companies, it also hopes to reach the intimacy of homemade meals, which are essential to Italian culture. Slowing down the pace and taking time to prepare a home-style meal allows us to relish in the company of loved ones and enjoy the privilege of consuming nutritious ingredients.