The Slow Food movement preserves an ecoregion's cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming methods of that region. It was begun by Carlo Petrini in Italy as a resistance movement to fast food but has expanded globally to 50 countries and now has 70,000 members. It now describes itself as an eco-gastronomy faction within the ecology movement, and some consider it also the culinary wing of the anti-globalization movement. It announced the opening of a new University of Food at Pollenzo, in Piedmont, Italy in 2004. Carlo Petrini and Massimo Montanari are the leading figures in the creation of the University, whose goal is to promote awareness of good food and nutrition.
Programs of the Slow Food movement include or have included:
- Seed banks to preserve native varieties, usually in cooperation with more local movements
- An "ark of taste" for each ecoregion whose "tastes" are preserved
- Preserving & promoting local & traditional food product know-how
- Organizing small-scale processing, e.g. slaughtering, of short run products
- Organizing celebrations of local cuisine within the region of production, e.g. the Feast of Fields held in some cities in Canada
- Taste Education
- Educating consumers about the hidden risks of fast food
- Educating citizens about the hidden risks of agribusiness and factory farms
- Educating citizens about the risks of monoculture and reliance on too few genomes or varieties
- Various political programs to preserve family farms
- Lobbying for agricultural policy changes to support organic farms
- Lobbying against genetic modification of foodstuffs
- Lobbying against the use of pesticides
- Teaching gardening, especially to students and prisoners
- Moral purchasing of foodstuffs produced by locals using methods that are morally acceptable to the consumer
From time to time, Slow Food intervenes directly in market transactions, e.g. preserving four varieties of native American Turkey by ordering 4,000 eggs of these and commissioning their raising and slaughtering and delivery to market.
Critics of the organization have charged it with being elitist, as it discourages nominally cheaper alternative methods of growing or preparing food. Slow Food responds by claiming to be working towards local production and consumption which will exploit "best practices" of science and professions worldwide but ultimately prove cheaper due to less reliance on transport and energy and chemical and technology intensive methods. These arguments parallel those of the anti-globalization movement, Greenpeace and green parties against global export of monocultured foodstuffs, especially GMOs. A central point related to these arguments is that transport prices are artificially low because the true cost of fuel (including the protection of shipping lanes and other military interventions around the world) are not factored into the price of goods, and are instead paid for indirectly through personal taxes.
- Official web site
- Traditional Mediterranean and Asian recipes