Yesterday I introduced the Slow Food Movement and gave you some information on its history and objectives. It’s an international organization with many different chapters, so today I’ll help you learn more about what you can do locally for slow food.
Slow Food USA began in New York City in 2000. It has many local chapters and more and more restaurants are becoming advocates of slow food and supporting local gardeners and farmers by using their produce and meats for their menus. You may have been to a restaurant that boasted about its “farm-to-table” food or labeled certain ingredients as local. These are all small ways they are supporting the SFM.
In Colorado, there are 10 local chapters. Slow Food Denver has about 150 members, a number that actually seemed low to me. I think there are many people in Denver who unknowingly support slow food principles in thought and action, but are not members of the official organization. There are some great volunteer and educational opportunities within Slow Food USA, so I am going to provide some links in case anyone is interested in becoming more involved.
Denver’s Seed-to-Table program is one of their biggest programs. Seed-to-Table works with schools to plant gardens, help the students learn how to tend to and harvest the food, and teach cooking classes using the food they have grown. One woman in my class has 3 kids whose school is part of the Seed-to-Table program. She was telling me that her elementary school-aged kids came home one day talking about how they learned how to make Baba Ghanoush with the eggplant they grew in their school garden. Impressive!
Other ways to get involved with Slow Food Denver:
Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is when you invest in one of your local farmers by buying a part of his or her farm. In return, you get the fresh fruits or vegetables they are growing at any given time. It is a great way to support farmers and also get fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables. Through my CSA, we are getting not only fruits and veggies but also artisan bread and pastured eggs.
Buy Colorado wine and beer:
For other cities, go here to look up your state and see which cities have local Slow Food chapters. Each chapter has a web page and will provide more information on how to get involved, events in your city, etc.
There are challenges to the SFM. It has been criticized for being too elitist, and many believe that slow food is a luxury but not necessarily a basic human right. The paradox of slow food is something leaders in the movement struggle with every day: the poor farmers provide to the wealthiest people, and the rich farmers provide for the poorest people. Some also believe the SFM’s effectiveness is limited because they don’t have support from politicians. There are some great leaders in the SFM, but they specialize in food, not politics. They can only take the movement so far before other forces are needed.
I recommend becoming involved in some small way, whether it be supporting the restaurants in your city that focus on local ingredients; buying local breads, chocolates and honey; helping out in schools that provide cooking or nutrition education to students; or finding some other volunteer opportunities that focus on teaching people how to grow, cook and eat fresh food.