I grew up with Slow Food without knowing it. My mother would wake me at the crack of dawn to hoe the string beans, shuck the corn and dig potatoes—not exactly my idea of fun. I was jealous that my best friend’s mom could take a pizza from the freezer, pop it in the oven and within minutes we could be eating it.
On the other side of the world, the Slow Food movement was taking shape. Slow Food was founded in Italy, in the late 80s by Carlo Petrini in response to the growing industrialization and proliferation of fast food.
Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. A food system that is good, clean and fair.
Slow Food promotes the tradition of growing local foods, using them as your primary source of sustenance and continuing a healthier and more sustainable way of life. As importantly, Slow Food supports community. Getting to know the folks who prepare your meal, grow and harvest your food, tend to the cattle, and pass on tradition to the next generation.
On a recent trip to Italy with friends I visited a winery in Tuscany, north of Lucca. Podere Concòri, a small producer of organic and biodynamic wines, prides themselves in being awarded the Slow Wine distinction for 2015.
We ate a light meal of farro salad with zucchini, rosemary and olive oil, and bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil and olives—all locally grown and produced. The wine itself, Melograno, was very special—mild and easy to enjoy, with the essence of summer fruits and aromatic herbs. As I sat there enjoying the slow afternoon lunch and conversation, I realized that my true appreciation for this experience I learned from my mother.
It’s a few weeks later, and I just returned from central Kentucky where I followed my mother, now 86, to the garden to pick cucumbers. Her dedication to good, clean food has undoubtedly contributed to her longevity and vibrancy. She still buys eggs from a neighbor, trades her sweet pickles for home-churned butter, and over our lunch of summer vegetables she reminded me that as a child I had learned exactly what it means to “run around like a headless chicken.”
If you live in the New York metro area there’s a great list of restaurants, bars and stores that have contributed to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of our city’s food supply, and have earned the Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval. Check out http://www.slowfoodnyc.org/program/snail_approval