Eat with Pleasure

Stories and Recipes by Jenny Holm

Recently, I attended a Slow Food DC happy hour where I met Josh Viertel, the president of Slow Food USA. He’s young, articulate, and eminently approachable–another admirer’s two-year-old daughter used Viertel’s right leg as a backrest throughout much of his talk–and his goal is to turn Slow Food into the voice of the sustainable food movement. Judging from how inspired I felt after hearing his plans for the organization’s future, I’m confident he’ll be able to do it.

He focused on the importance of changing the public’s perception of Slow Food and raising its profile nationally and locally. If in the past Slow Food had a reputation for being an elitist club of people who refuse to shop at grocery stores and throw around terms like “charcuterie” and “chiffonade” as if they were discussing the weather, Viertel’s initiatives aim to put “good, clean, and fair” food within everyone’s reach. Through campaigns to increase access to fresh and locally grown foods in low-income neighborhoods, improve the quality and nutritional value of the meals children eat at school, and amend U.S. food policy to encourage (rather than squelch) food production using sustainable methods, watch for Slow Food to pick up speed at the grassroots level this year and into the future.

Find your local Slow Food chapter and see how you can get involved here.

View a BBC video featuring our gathering and a mobile farmer’s market bringing local organic produce to families in neighborhoods without easy access to grocery stores (“food deserts”).


2 Responses to “The Future of Slow Food”

  1. Anne

    Could you explain what exactly “slow food” means? I live in the Bay Area and people keep telling me about it but it seems like a cult.

  2. Jenny Holm

    Sounds like organization really does need an image makeover then! “Cult” was probably not exactly what they were going for. Essentially, Slow Food is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire people to care about what is on their plates, how it got there, and how it tastes. It got its start in Italy in the mid-1980s as a protest movement when a McDonalds went up in Rome, and today chapters (“conviviums”) exist in 132 countries.

    The focus of Slow Food’s activities in each nation varies, but many are centered around conserving traditional food cultures, promoting biodiversity in animal and plant species bred for food, connecting producers who use sustainable, artisanal methods with consumer markets, and conducting taste education classes and workshops. Yearly member dues support the national organization’s work.

    I can only speak for the DC-area chapter, but here the people who come to Slow Food events range in age from 20-somethings to retirees. Some work in food, but most don’t. Some are “activisty” types, but many are not. The thing we all have in common is a healthy appetite for delicious food. You always know you’ll eat well at Slow Food events!

    One misconception I had before joining the organization in October was that you had to be a dues-paying member in order to participate in local events. That’s not the case! Anyone can attend the vast majority of dinners, potlucks, farm tours, tasting events, lectures, and other events hosted by each convivium. Many are free.

    Come to think of it, I just learned today that I will be responsible for coordinating a monthly Slow Food happy hour in the DC-area, which will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in getting involved to learn more about who we are and what we do. I am also co-coordinating a foodie book club. I’ll be sure to post announcements on this site prior to each event.

    Hope that helps clear things up!


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