By the second half of the 20th century the world was already moving at a fast pace, with a majority of people living fast, driving fast, and eating fast.
Then, as now, you couldn’t turn onto any major highway without a billboard, sign or restaurant promising cheap, fast food uprooted alongside every exit. But these fast-food chains did more than frequent busy stretches of traffic, as soon they were beginning to invade sacred sections of the built-environment.
During the 1980s in Italy, the fast food industry went so far as to propose the construction of a new McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome. This helped to kick-start the slow food movement as a protest to big international business and specifically, commercial food chains.
Since then, Slow Food has become a global movement with over 100,000 members in 153 countries.
The Slow Food organization is non-profit and funded mostly by its members, who consist of a diverse network of people, from farmers to teacher to retailers, all linked by their desire to strengthen local communities and preserve food biodiversity. This network provides a web of support from which the organization can operate on a local to global scale.
Slow Food has helped local communities by offering channels of direct communication between local growers and consumers. The latest example of this being the creation of their Earth Markets, which function as farmers’ markets overseen by community management, where farmers and small-scale producers can sell their produce directly to their customers and where consumers have access to an unadulterated food source, with full knowledge of its origins.
On a broader scale, Slow Food works to improve food and cultural education, and have funded food education programs, including school and community gardens, through grants. They also concern themselves with endangered food species. Industrial standardization is now a threat to over 1,000 unique foods from 50 countries around the world. In reaction to this, the Slow Food organization has launched the Ark of Tastes project. This project attempts to rediscover, catalog, and promote foods that are at risk of extinction, and whose commercial and productive potential is closely linked to specific cultures and communities.
With the help of members and supporters, Slow Food has helped preserve local traditions and economies by protecting regions from the construction of fast food joints, educated people globally about the importance of their food sources, and has helped keep historic buildings and businesses intact.
Anyone can become involved with the slow food organization, whether by becoming a member, through donations and volunteer work, or by consciously consuming foods produced by fair and environmentally sound practices. This is something we can all do, and will enable us to utilize all of our senses, so that we can truly experience and appreciate the food we eat. This can be done by purchasing food directly from local farmers’ markets, dining at local restaurants, and by choosing retailers who sell local produce and products.
By making conscious decisions about what you eat and where your food comes from, you can empower your community and broaden the network of sustainable businesses.
Slow Food International
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