The Slow Food Movement

slow food logoThe Slow Food Movement

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

Piazza di SpagnaLet’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?

slow wine logo

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.

Photo Credits Piazza di Spagna: Patrick M. with CC 2.0 license


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41 comments on “The Slow Food Movement”

  1. drinkforlife Reply

    Wow absolutely love this post. I only knew bits and pieces about slow food and the slow movement. Quite interesting that Starbucks doesn’t operate a single coffee shop in Italy. I mean Italy is a large coffee consuming country.
    Looking forward to your posts about slow wine in Munich.

    • vino in love Reply

      Drinkforlife,
      Thank you so much!
      You are right that Italians drink lots of coffee but their coffee-drinking tradition is very different to the American one.

  2. RiojaChianti RiojaChianti Reply

    So you dont like McDonalds? At least it sounds like you don’t. Why? A quick meal at Mc Donalds isnt that bad. I can understand that people in Italy dont wanna pay a lot for coffee because they can get it for much less at a local bar but I still think that coffee to go is a great invention. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks make delicious coffee!

    • vino in love Reply

      RiojaChianti,
      Thanks for stopping by. No I don’t like McDonald’s. Their burgers don’t taste good and their food is of low quality. But that is my opinion. Same goes for Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. Their quality isn’t great. Sometimes when I’m in a hurry I take a coffee to go from Starbucks but usually I try to avoid it.

      • the winegetter Reply

        I agree with you, Julian. To me, coffee to go is such an American thing: everything has to be fast, fast, fast. Instead of welcoming a short break in the day, it just keeps rushing it. And the quality is sub-par at best. I prefer to get a quick espresso if I need a fix: fresh, and I can take a short break.

        • vino in love Reply

          Oliver,
          Thanks for stopping by! America is moving much faster than Italy. In Italy people still have the time to sit down and drink their espresso or cappuccino. But Starbucks was smart because they adopted some of the Italian coffee culture and Americanized for their market. I mean the concept seems to work. Unfortunately, lots of people go to Starbucks.

        • RiojaChianti RiojaChianti Reply

          The quality is just fine. And if I sat down for every cup of coffee that I drink then I would lose so much time. Who needs a short break because of some coffee. Scary thought!
          But everybody is free to have their opinion.

  3. Suzanne Reply

    Fascinating, I have heard of the Slow Food Movement but never the Slow Wine, I love the history and significance of the movement Although I had heard of Slow Food I really didn’t know much about it and read your post with great interest. Too bad about that McDonalds in Piazza di Spangna, a real eyesore and tourist trap and also very interesting about Starbucks, I have never cared for their coffee and don’t frequent even though you can find one on just about every block in NYC. I look forward to your post on the Slow Wine in Germany.

    • vino in love Reply

      Suzanne,
      Thank you for your nice words! Glad to hear that you find the post interesting!
      The only reason why McDonald’s is doing so much business at Piazza di Spagna is because of all the tourists. I think recently the city government decided that McDonald’s cannot use their yellow logo anymore. They had to change the color to something more neutral to blend in with the nearby houses but the smell is still there.

      Do you have some alternatives to Starbucks? Sometimes there is nothing better than a good, traditional cup of coffee/cappuccino without artificial flavoring.

      • Suzanne Reply

        I make my own coffee and bring with me in a thermal mug, I dislike buying coffee from commercial purveyors for the most part. Starbucks in my opinion is like McDonalds, fast food or coffee with questionable product. If I do get a cup of coffee outside I tend to go to smaller “Mom and Pop” businesses. Guerrilla Coffee is good they are local in Brooklyn as is Blue Bottle. I am very picky about my coffee and prefer to wait or do without rather than get substandard product. Thanks again for a very interesting post that I thoroughly enjoyed, I love learning and I did just that.

        • vino in love Reply

          Suzanne,
          I love that you brew your own coffee 🙂 And you are very right that the quality of Starbucks and of most other large coffee shop chains is very questionable.

  4. wineking3 wineking3 Reply

    Julian, great post. Hands down! Very informative.
    To me it makes perfect sense that the Slow Movement originated in Italy. Italian food (and wine) is healthy and tasty! Period.

    Thanks for sharing Talkavino’s tasting notes. Was interesting to read, too but now I’m looking forward to your tasting notes from Slow Wine in Munich.

    • vino in love Reply

      Wineking,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      And I agree with you that Italian food tastes amazing and of course it’s healthy. The Mediterranean cuisine is one of the best. Even the ancient Romans lived longer and healthier on average than their barbaric neighbors. Mostly because of they ate Mediterranean food.

  5. hannah-theis hannah-theis Reply

    Nice post, Julian :- )
    I didn’t know about Slow Wine. I knew about the Slow Movement and about Slow Food but I was not aware that they are also rating wines.
    Salone del Gusto must be a very nice trade fair. I just looked at their site and I think I want to go there in the next years. Seems to be an awesome encounter between food and wine!

    Also I disagree with RiojaChianti. Starbucks’ coffee is disgusting – at least here in Canada.

    • vino in love Reply

      Hannah,
      Thank you for commenting. Slow Wine is a rather new project from Slow Food so I don’t blame you for not knowing about it.
      Let me know if you like Salone del Gusto if you go there one day. It’s huge!

  6. Eatwithnamie Reply

    Good to hear that slow food reached Munich! On my recent trip there İ was very disappointed at how fast they were eating and drinking while standing up. 🙂 İ haven’t eaten at McDonalds for over 15 years since my first trial out of curiosity. İt was disgusting, full of artificial flavours and grease. İ just dont understand people who go to McDonalds when there are many gourmet burger shops around that have more delicious burgers. Many Starbucks have closed down in Sydney because people prefer small coffee shops that make better coffee. People are getting so addicted to artificial flavours that they find natural food tastless, which is sad.
    İ was going to write about wine diet and your post was very encouraging. İ think wine makes me stay slim. When İ dont drink wine every day, İ put on weight. İnteresting? Looking forward to your next posts.

    • vino in love Reply

      Eatwithnamie,
      Thanks for stopping by! Munich is a very fast-moving city. Similar to London and New York.
      I love fresh grilled burgers. Recently in Munich a new burger shop opened and they serve delicious burgers. Much better than the ones from BurgerKing and McDonald’s.

      It’s good to hear that Starbucks isn’t doing that well anymore in Sydney. Traditional coffee from small coffee houses tastes usually much better 🙂
      I’m looking forward to your post about a wine diet. I think that’s a very interesting topic. Other people told me the same that they lost weight because of wine.

  7. theducksong Reply

    slow food movement seems to be interesting! i want to learn more about it. do you know how i can?

  8. winetalks winetalks Reply

    The Slow Food Movement is fascinating. I’m all for home cooking and local products. All these globalized imports are causing so many problems – especially in third world countries.
    What a pity that McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps is still open. I remember it from my trip to Italy last summer. Never ate fast food in Italy (not that I do here in the USA) unless you consider Pizza al talio (i think that is what it was called) fast food because I ate lots of it!! It was sooo delicious. Nothing better than fresh pizza al talio!

    When it comes to Starbucks then I completely agree with Eatwithnamie. Coffee from small coffee houses usually tastes better.

    • vino in love Reply

      Frank,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad that you find the Slow Movement fascinating because it really is! In my opinion, piazza al taglio is not fast food like a burger from McDonald’s. It tastes better and is for sure healthier.

      I already asked this question Suzanne but do you have good alternatives to Starbucks in the US?

  9. Sean P. Reply

    Ok my two cents on the Slow Movement: We live in a globalized world. Take wine for example. We can buy wine from all over the world. And I’m very happy that I can buy wine from France, Italy, Spain, California and so on.

    I agree though that fast food sucks. If you don’t have the time to eat then don’t eat at all. How about that? 😉 A fresh grilled burger (Not from one of the fast food chains) is delicious but a burger from Jack in the Box of from McDonald’s is pretty disgusting.
    That’s my opinion at least.

    • vino in love Reply

      Sean,
      Thanks for your input on this. I personally could live without oversea wine imports. In Europe we have lots of good wine so I would be just fine without wine from Australia, South and North America.

      “If you don’t have the time to eat then don’t eat at all” Love that! It takes only little time to cook something amazing 🙂

  10. foodwine88 Reply

    Because of my job (I work as a freelance writer and journalist) I travelled to many countries and I always enjoyed the food diversity. The local cuisine was always the best. So I’m all for the Slow Food Movement. Some local South Asian food was a little bit “weird” and disgusting but I tried everything that I was offered at least once.
    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now. Always kept coming back! Keep it up 🙂

    • vino in love Reply

      Foodwine88,
      Thanks for visiting Vino in Love! I’m glad that you like the site.
      Completely agree with you that the regional cuisine is always the best.

  11. talkavino Reply

    Julian,

    very nice post and thanks for the reference! Every time I’m in Europe, especially in Italy, I love the fact that lunch is a slow event, which also always includes wine – US has a “quick lunch” culture which doesn’t really allows you to enjoy what you are eating…

    By the way, when it comes to Starbucks, I understand that they don’t succeed in all the countries, but what is important is that they completely changed the culture around coffee in US. While I’m using Starbucks only once in a blue moon when I’m traveling in US, they provide better coffee and better food compare to majority of other “fast food” places, and they also provide a place for the people where they can sit down, talk, relax, do some work,etc. Starbucks definitely helped people to drink better coffee in US compare to what was there before. And it is somewhat easy to understand that Starbucks doesn’t succeed in Italy, where culture around coffee existed for a very long time… I work with many Europeans when they come to US, and in a lot of cases Starbucks is the only coffee they can accept, even though they would say that it is not as good as the coffee in their own countries…

    • vino in love Reply

      Anatoli,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      I agree that Starbucks makes on average better coffee than the other largw coffeehouse chains. Only recently I red that the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, traveled in the 80s a few times to Milan to learn about of Italy’s coffee tradition and to adopt some of it at Starbucks. Even though I don’t like their coffee that much, it has to be said that their concept works very well in faster and faster moving society. Slow Movement tries to counter that.
      At the airport Starbucks is usually pretty convenient. Their coffee shops usually have a fast Wi-Fi connection and once in a while their a cappuccino from Starbucks is alright.

  12. Marco van Puff Reply

    Excellent post! I think the Slow Food Movement is great.
    I can’t believe that there is a McDonalds at the Spanish Steps! That’s insane.

    • mariberlinese Reply

      not really, McDonalds takes the best spots in whole Europe – the same applies to Milan, Turin, Cracow, Belgrade, Berlin, Prague etc. always in the historical centre, always in beautiful historical buildings…

      • vino in love Reply

        Mariberlinese,
        Unfortunately that’s the case. In Munich we have so many of them – they are pretty much everywhere! One of Europe’s most money-generating McDonald’s restaurants is actually at Karlsplatz Stachus in Munich… Always crowded…

      • Marco van Puff Reply

        Hmm I didn’t think about it that way but now that you say it.. It’s a shame that McDonalds takes the best spots everywhere! Their food is disgusting. I can’t stand it :s And the smell of it is just awful.

  13. Lisa Marshall Reply

    Oh I just love your Slow Food and Slow Wine information! And I’m mad McDonalds is still in Italy! I have always believed you are what you eat! I have always gravated to natural food and good filtered water! I definitely can taste the difference! Thank you for sharing this great information and I must attend the ‘Salone Del Gusto’ the next time it takes place!

    • vino in love Reply

      Lisa,
      Thanks for visiting Vino in Love 🙂
      I’m so happy that you enjoyed the article! Slow Food is great and natural good tastes always best.

  14. mariberlinese Reply

    Thank you for promoting this wonderful idea! I’m a big fan of it and I enjoy it particularly in my beloved Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna.

    I agree, Starbuck’s coffee is all but good, although the very concept has its advantages too – still, it’ neither price (in Europe), nor taste/quality.

    Referring to the Italian hate toward any kind of fast food… here I would not be such an optimist. McDonalds restaurants in Bologna and Torino are always full, and people inside are not foreigners…

    • vino in love Reply

      Mariberlinese,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      In Piemonte, but actually in all of Italy, SlowFood restaurants are everywhere 🙂 The movement is great and I’m so happy that Petrini decided to found SlowFood.

      Yes you are right, that the McDonalds at Via dell’Indipendenza/Pizza Maggiore in Bologna is always full and that there are lots of Italians in it but the Italians that go there are usually young or don’t have much money or both. Can’t say anything about Torino since I only visited the city a few times (never lived there)
      But don’t forget that Bologna is also Italy’s “capital” of good food. At Mercato delle Erbe one can find so many fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, salumi and fish. I loved shopping there and every time I visit the city I’ll stop by there 🙂
      Cities like Bologna and Rome have lots of small trattorie and osterie. If someone wants to eat good food and these cities are definitely the right destination 🙂

  15. Urban Paleo Chef Reply

    I love the slow food movement! I’ve always been in to my food, but starting to think about the incredible effort that might go in to creating a pasta dish: growing the grains, drying them, threshing, storing, chaffing, grinding, etc. And it was all effort that I wasn’t doing myself. I started to realize that, if I’m not hand-making a processed ingredient, then maybe I should reconsider it’s use… And for me, slow-food took off from there!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Urban Paleo Chef,
      Thanks for visiting! I’m glad to hear that you love the Slow Food Movement! The more people join it, the better. People have to realize where their food is coming from 🙂

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