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”).