The slow food movement can be traced to 1980s Italy where, after a demonstration on the intended site of a McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome, Carlo Petrini made it his mission to defend regional traditions, a slow pace of life and good food. Since then the movement has become much broader.
But the slow food movement isn’t just about the ingredients though – it’s also about slowing down the cooking process and even how we eat. According to its philosophy, the food we eat should be grown and bought locally, prepared with care and eaten with appreciation. Taking the time to really enjoy the meals we make and eating mindfully is a brilliant way to slow down at dinner time.
Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. The Slow Food movement's approach is based on a concept of food that is defined by three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair.
GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers
The food production and consumption systems most common today are harmful to the earth, to its ecosystems and to the peoples that inhabit it. Taste, biodiversity, the health of humans and animals, well-being and nature are coming under continuous attack. This jeopardizes the very urge to eat and produce food as gastronomes and exercise the right to pleasure without harming the existence of others or the environmental equilibria of the planet we live on.
If, as the farmer poet Wendell Berry says, "eating is an agricultural act", it follows that producing food must be considered a "gastronomic act".
The consumer orients the market and production with his or her choices and, growing aware of these processes, he or she assumes a new role. Consumption becomes part of the productive act and the consumer thus becomes a co-producer.
The producer plays a key role in this process, working to achieve quality, making his or her experience available and welcoming the knowledge and knowhow of others.
The effort must be a common one and must be made in the same aware, shared and interdisciplinary spirit as the science of gastronomy.
The Slow Food movement champions local ingredients and produce, with many of its supporters working to reduce food miles (the distance produce travels from the fields to our tables). In the UK, the organisation is also promoting bio-diversity and working to save plants that are at risk of extinction.
As you eat, notice the colours, flavours, textures and aromas of every element on your plate. Rid yourself of the usual distractions – keep your phone away from the table and switch Netflix off – and focus on the dish you have prepared.