Since spending so much time in Italy over the past six years I have witnessed and experienced what I now understand is the Slow Food movement that embraces the country. When I first heard the term casually thrown into sparodic conversations the image in my head was of some hippy religion of sorts, the word ‘movement’ alluding to a kind of alternative lifestyle. I also imagined slow cooking casseroles and old fashioned heavy dishes. Over time I have realised that “slow food” simply describes an organised stance against the rapidly growing and immense fast food sector. Slow food is simply the opposite of fast food. Some of my friends have thought slow food referred to foods cooked slowly or foods that are digested slowly but again, that’s not necessarily the case. Slow food involves eating fresh, seasonal foods that are locally sought and cooked or prepared using methods that respect tradition, health, the environment and the economy.
Launched in 1989 in Italy, the slow food movement now involves 300 registered groups in 150 countries with projects ranging from Taste Education in schools to biodiversity projects across Europe and Africa. Slow Food promotes the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment, a connection between plate, planet, people and culture. The slow food slogan is “good, clean and fair” Buono, Pulito e Giusto!
The Slow food movement promotes that we as consumers, are co-producers of food. Collectively, our choices impact how food is cultivated, produced, stored and distributed. Our buying and eating patterns dictate the food industry. We therefore all have a part to play in protecting our future food supply systems and moulding the future of food for our children, and their’s. A future that respects tradition, our land and our health. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?
So, imagine only eating fruits and vegetables that are in season and have been grown in your local region. Yes, that could mean no blueberries in Winter and no mushrooms in Summer! But it would also mean foods that haven’t been cool stored for months on end. Foods with real flavour, bursting with Vitamins, minerals and texture. Have we forgotten what real tomatoes taste like? Could we enjoy an energetic, healthy and flavourful life without endless packets of biscuits, chips and bars?
While I traveled through Italy for 6 months in 2014 I dedicated this time to exploring just how the Italians achieve this and how it has become such an excepted part if their culture and their usual way of life. What can we learn and what will work in Australia? I visited registered “Slow Cities”, slow food restaurants & food producers. I met wonderful food artisans from gelato makers, cheese producers, cake and pastry masters. From wineries to pasta factories, nougat makers to lemon farms I explored and discovered many hidden regional gastronomic treasure. I will share these experiences with you, take you on wonderful hikes and bike rides and introduce you to the people with passion for food and land. See you next time! Buon apetito!