Founded in a small town in the north of Italy in 1986, and spreading rapidly throughout the country, this movement has now expanded globally to over 132 countries.
In 1986, the first McDonald’s in Italy opened next to Rome’s Spanish Steps, and the fast food trend took hold of Italian cities. Old-fashioned pizza was replaced by double cheeseburgers; freshly-made spaghetti was exchanged for faster and cheaper pre-cooked pastas.
Carlo Petrini wasn’t pleased with the transformation of Italy’s cuisine and eating habits, and decided something should be done to preserve traditional and regional cuisines, a strong part of Italian heritage. Several years later, in 1989, he founded the International Slow Food Movement. The Slow Food Movement renounced not only fast food, but the fast pace of life. The Slow Food Movement resorted back to a simpler way of life, beginning with the way we eat and what we eat.
Encouraged was the farming of plants, seeds and livestock, which are typical of the local ecosystem. A network of local markets and grocery stores began to sell produce from small, family-run farms. And thus, Italians have once again re-discovered their culinary heritage and the flavors of natural food.
The Slow Food movement incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:
- Forming and sustaining seed banks
- Preserving as well as promoting local foods and sustaining their traditional preparation
- Developing programs to preserve family run farms and promoting organic farming
- Encouraging ethical buying in local marketplaces
- Promoting the use of organic and local produce in restaurants
Today, the movement emphasizes the importance of eating locally, preserving traditions, educating consumers on the importance of sustainability and encouraging eating as a social event. The Slow Food Movement has grown to an international phenomenon and hundreds of thousands of participants are involved in hundreds of countries. There is a magazine, website and various events all dedicated to the Italian-born Slow Food Movement.
With this level of support, it has become possible for Slow Food to intervene directly in market transactions, for example in the US it was able to preserve four varieties of native American turkey by ordering thousands of their eggs, thus commissioning others to raise the turkeys and sell them onto the market.
Slow Food’s logo is a small snail, a symbol of freshness and taste, so look out for it when you’re searching for a place to enjoy your next meal. Thank the restaurant the next time you are in Italy savoring the amazing spaghetti, the wonderful bruschetta or a delicious pizza!