What is Slow Food?

Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA

People often ask us, “What do you sell? Is it about cooking slowly? Oh wait; – it’s the opposite of Fast Food! … Right?” Sort of.

Slow Food is hard to explain in a nutshell, and with good reason: it is a complex concept, intertwined with a huge social movement, and has been translated into many countries and cultures around the world. The Slow Food organization began in 1986 in Italy, in response to the opening of a McDonald’s on the Spanish steps in Rome; since then it has spread beyond Italy, making its way to the UK, France, Japan and Australia.

The US National offices opened in 2000 and today the Slow Food organization is active in 50 countries with over 80,000 members. Slow Food Minnesota, in particular, is one of the oldest American convivia (chapters). Their focus is on celebrating and supporting regional foods and producers and introducing local products to a wider audience. Through the organization, seminars are offered in taste education and the cultural significance of certain foods. They also work with local farmers, helping them meet like-minded producers to find encouragement and inspiration.

Slow Food has evolved over the years, beginning with the ideals of old-school gastronomy (long lunches, good wine) in the late 1980s. It evolved to a new concept of “eco-gastronomy” (biodiversity and pleasure on the plate) in the 1990’s and “good, clean and fair food” (a system-wide approach, incorporating politics, social justice, environmentalism and a new definition of quality) in the new millennium.

The Slow Food concept envisions a food system that is based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice – in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. It seeks to move our culture away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and fast life; toward the regenerative cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, including regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.

Those who practice Slow Food have this in common: an insatiable love for truly good food. They share a genuine interest in knowing from where it comes, who grows it, and the culture it represents. People have responded to the growing movement, because they have become tired of buying the same things, eating the same foods and living the same lives.

Sustainability is ultimately about preservation of the earth’s resources, but also of the pleasure and quality of everyday life, a pleasure and quality we can all feel disappearing. This can be achieved by slowing down, respecting the convivial traditions of the table and celebrating the diversity of the earth’s bounty. How can you “go slow?” Get to know the people who produce your food; visit a farm; explore the richness of Minnesota’s natural bounty; prepare meals together; and enjoy that fresh, local, seasonal, food with the ones you love. And that is Slow Food.

Read Up

Slow Food Revolution: A New Culture for Eating and Living, by Carlo Petrini and Gigi Padovani, Rizzoli, 2006.

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should be Good, Clean and Fair, by Carlo Petrini, Rizzoli ex Libris, 2007.


Act Locally
Slow Food Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
What is Slow Food?

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