Slow Food is an international non-profit member-supported organization that was founded under the name Agricola in Bra, Italy, in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to counter fast food and fast live. In 1989, the organization adopted the name Slow Food. Today Slow Food has more than 100.000 members in 150 countries that have organized themselves in 1500 chapters. The chapters are responsible for promoting local food and farmers. Furthermore, the chapters host regional events like wine and food tastings or farmer’s markets.
One of the goals of the Slow Food Movement is to stop the glottalization of agricultural products. The organization is dedicated to a food system that is good, clean and fair for all. Slow Food defends food diversity and connects consumers with producers. In the United States, Slow Food has more than 25.000 members and over 250.000 sponsors. The largest Slow Food USA gathering occurred in San Francisco in 2008 at the Slow Food Nation event.
Slow Food publishes cook books, guides, magazines and a variety of other books under the label Slow Food Editrice. Worldwide, Slow Food rates restaurants and if these restaurants meet their criteria for excellent, traditional, local cuisine then they are awarded the Slow Food Snail. Slow Food’s annual Italian restaurant guide Osterie d’Italia is legendary. The book lists every restaurant in Italy that has been awarded the Slow Food Snail.
I have never been disappointed by one of these restaurants. While these restaurants are not always cheap, it is guaranteed that the food is more than delicious and of course, the ingredients come from local producers. Next time you are in Italy do not forget to dine in such a restaurant to experience the true-Italian cuisine. Also it is worth knowing that the Osterie d’Italia book does not change that much from year to year. Therefore it is not that important to own the latest edition.
Furthermore, in 2004 Slow Food founded the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. It is the first university that is specially devoted to the links between food and culture. The university offers a three-year Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree as well as two one-year master degrees and a two-year master degree.
Since 1996, Slow Food has been organizing the Salone del Gusto. Today Salone del Gusto is the world’s largest food & wine fair. It takes place every year in Turin. Unfortunately, I was not able to go to Salone del Gusto this year but I will attend VinItaly, the world’s largest trade fair dedicated to wine, in Verona in April.
The origins of the Slow Movement
Let’s take a closer look at the origins of the Slow Movement. Like I said at the beginning of this post, Carlo Petrini founded Agricola (former name of Slow Food) in 1986. But what where his motivations? It all began with Petrini’s protest against a McDonald’s opening at Piazza di Spagna in Rome. If you never been to Rome then take a look at the picture to your right. Piazza di Spagna is one of the most crowed places in Rome with hundreds of thousands of tourists every day.
So what is the deal with McDonald’s? You have to understand that Italians do not really like fast food. That is why most Italians do not like McDonald’s. Piazza di Spagna is one Rome’s main tourist attractions and many Italians feared that a McDonald’s would ruin this beautiful place. And it did. Especially the smell is disgusting. The McDonald’s at Piazza di Spagna still exists. Such a shame.
I understand why Petrini’s protested. The Italian cuisine was and still is much better than hamburgers with fries . Even worse when the food is genetically modified.
What I tell you now is not directly connected with the origins of the Slow Movement. Starbucks owns over 20.000 coffee shops in 61 countries but none in Italy. Why? Italians do not like to drink their coffee out of plastic/paper cups. In fact, Italians do not even consider to take their coffee outside of the bar. Coffee to-go does not exist in Italy. In an Italian bar a cappuccino costs around 1.20€. In Germany at Starbucks a small cappuccino costs around 3.40€. And Starbucks’ coffee is really not that good compared to traditional caffé (italian for coffee).
This example should help you understand the mentality of Italians towards fast food and fast live. And if you do not me believe me then try a traditional caffé together with a brioche alla crema (Italian croissant stuffed with vanilla cream). Starbucks simply cannot compete with it. If you want to read more about why Starbucks is not in Italy then I recommend you to read this post from Innovation Zen.
What are the connections between Slow Food and wine?
I already mentioned that Slow Food organizes the Salone del Gusto but of course there are more connections between Slow Food and wine. Since 2010, Slow Food Editrice is publishing a wine guide named Slow Wine. Slow Wine is different that most other Italian wine guides like Gambero Rosso or Veronelli. The guide recommends wines that are produced from small producers with autochthonous grapes. For the 2013 edition, Slow Wine visited over 1900 wineries. The Slow Wine guide is available in Italian, German and English. Only recently Slow Wine released an app for iOS.
From 1987 to 2010 Slow Food worked together with the Gambero Rosso but because Stefano Bonilli, the founder of the Gambero Rosso, was fired from his position as editor-in-chief Slow Food decided to go solo.
The Slow Wine guide was immediately a huge success, which is the reason why Slow Wine hosts wine fairs all in many countries. In 2013 Slow Wine also visited San Francisco, Miami and New York. Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino blogged about his experience at Slow Wine in NYC.
On February 28th, Slow Wine came to Munich, Germany. The event took place from 3pm to 9pm for those who work in the field. For the general public the gates opened at 5pm. Entry was free for people working with wine. So of course I had to go. Trying great wine for free is always great. 98 wineries show-cast some some of their best wines including Donnafugata and Planeta. But for today I call it a post. In the next few days, I will publish a post dedicated to Slow Wine 2013 in Munich.