The Slow Food movement was created in 1989 in Italy by Carlo Petrini. Carlo, along with others, was protesting the opening of a McDonalds in Rome. To protest the McDonald's "Americanizing" of the Italian culture, Petrini directed protestors and others to eat locally and honor regional cuisine.
The snail represents the movement. But the snail cannot describe the pace in which the movement has spread. There are now more than 1.5k chapters throughout the world. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 chapters. And with its growth has come additional elements of the movement. Now, there is an extra layer of sustainability and "cleanliness" of the food - with the acronym:
While the acronym is a thing, true believers of the slow-food movement say that there are three prerequisites (given in Eater)
"good, defined by flavor and aroma “recognizable to educated, well- trained senses”; clean, which means every step of the agro-industrial chain must be humane and sustainable; and fair, the social justice component of the organization". The Slow movement is about connecting the consumer to their food in a meaningful way.
So a SLOW food reflection example is as follows:
LOCAL. Who farmed your food? How far away was your food farmed? The shorter the distance, the better for the environment. To know the farmer even better.
HUMANITY. How was the farmer treated? How much were the farmer and all the workers paid? Is the seller, server, cook being paid well? Prayer is that all the folks that worked with your food were paid adequately to live comfortably (paid a living wage/fair trade).
ECOSYSTEM. How was the crop treated? The land? Pesticides? Herbicides? Animals' habitats harmed? (see our chocolate article for more)
PROCESSING: How much has your food been tampered with? Has it been in a factory at all? Is it altered or all together created in a warehouse? The slow food movement claims that food should be as CLOSE to its original form as possible.
We will dive deeper into slow foods, but as a brief outline, this sounds like a plan, right?
Well, just like our article on, Slow Fashion, it's not that simple. It's quite complicated, it's expensive, and it's limiting.
SLOW food can work magnificently and reasonably effortlessly if you are privileged and live in a community with farmers' markets and tons of local food options. When your neighbors sell local and fresh foods, you can walk to grab sustainable foods to provide nourishment. But when we think of all the food deserts or communities where healthy, fresh, and affordable sustenance are hard to come by (or absent), we realize that until there are infrastructure changes, slow food is for the elite.
Often, where there are food deserts, there is food insecurity. That's because food deserts tend to be in low-income areas (or areas with high poverty rates) and communities of people of color.
"When comparing communities with similar poverty rates, she [Kelly Bower],discovered that black and Hispanic neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets and more small grocery stores than their white counterparts. Bursting with junk-food options, these smaller establishments rarely offer the healthy whole-grain foods, dairy products, or fresh fruits and veggies that a supermarket would provide." -John Hopkins Magazine
With little money, unreliable transportation, little access to food options, folks have to rely on fast foods, bodegas (small corner stores that supply quickly eaten processed/high sugar/salt foods), gas stations, and Walmarts. So when we look at our Native American brothers and sisters, we see that food deserts plus high poverty equate to food insecurity.
"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Further, according to the recent government data, almost one out of four American Indians are food insecure, compared with 15 percent of U.S households." - First Nations Development Institute
Incorporate SLOW food into your eating and shopping rhythm is a beautiful way to feel at one with your diet, and its journey to your table. It's a way of advocacy and environmentalism.
What about food deserts? Here is what we can do:
POLITICS: Voting for policies, politicians, initiatives, and systems that support creating sustainable food suppliers in food deserts is critical.
TIME: Finding folks that are building community gardens in the communities and helping in their efforts. Bus stop farmers' markets are becoming a thing - implemented primarily by community members.
MONEY: donating to sustainable food efforts within communities with high rates of poverty and people of color.
WOKE WORK: As you drive, look around and observe what communities are thriving in food options versus those that are not. Walk inside the grocery store and look at produce options. Look at produce prices vs. processed prices - think about which would stretch the farthest for a family. Is it cheaper to feed a family of five with $10 at McDonald's, Walgreens, or a fresh market?
PUBLIC AWARENESS: If you hear folks preaching healthy and sustainable eating - ask them their thoughts on how this applies to people without access (and potentially unreliable transportation and limited funds).
Let's keep the conversation going.