Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Slow Food and Carlo Petrini


Recommended Posts

This is an entry from my blogthat I think could use a larger audience and some real discussion. I should state I was a delegate from the original Terra Madre conference in Torino and was on board 100%, donating and throwing benefits on my property.

SLOW FOOD VS THE FARMERS AND YOU AND ME

Normally this space is dedicated to posts about soaking beans or pruning cactus. Unfortunately, a recent book by someone supposedly fighting the good fight for pure, good, local food has caused such a stir that I felt the need to comment and present the point of view of a grower who previously was cheering Slow Food and selling at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Carlo Petrini is the head of Slow Food, an international organization that mostly raises awarness about the deplorable state of modern food production. They’ve done a lot of good and opened many eyes. I’ve made some good friends and learned quite a lot, so I don’t want to discount the whole organization. Petrini has written a new book, Slow Food Nation, and the bulk of one short chapter is spent describing his trip to Ferry Plaza with his friend, restauranteur and local food icon, Alice Waters.

I’d like to share the passage with you:

Morning. The cool morning began quite early: if you are going to the market it is best to be ready by seven o’clock at the latest. The sun was not yet warm enough when, in the company of my chef friend Alice Waters, I entered an elegantly refurbished area of the docks; pretty little coffee shops were serving warm mugs of excellent organic fair-trade coffee; sumptuous bakeries were putting out all sorts of good things, spreading the fragrant aroma of some wonderful kinds of bread. Oil and wine producers were offering samples in marquees, while hundreds of open-air stalls were selling excellent products: fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, sausages, and even flowers. Fresh, healthy-looking food, all carefully marked organic.

One could have easily spent a fortune there. The prices were astronomical, twice or even three times as high as those of “conventional” products. But how hard it is to produce things so well, and what costs are involved in obtaining certification! I am convinced that the farmers’ intelligent productive efforts deserve to be paid for generously, so I was not too scandalized by the prices, even though they were those of a boutique. Yes, a boutique: for I soon realized I was in an extremely exclusive place (bear in mind that this is one of the oldest and most important farmers’ markets in town, la crème de la crème). The amiable ex-hippies and young dropouts-turned-farmers greeted their customers with a smile and offered generous samples of their products to a clientele whose social status was pretty clear: either wealthy or very wealthy.

Alice Waters introduced me to dozens of farmers: they were all well-to-do college graduates, former employees of Silicon Valley, many of them young. Meanwhile their customers, most of whom seemed to be actresses, went home clutching their peppers, marrows and apples, showing them off like jewels, status symbols.

Two of the producers in particular struck me: a young man with a long beard and a man who was selling oil. The former, with long hair and a plaid flannel shirt, held his lovely little blond-haired daughter in his arms and told me, in a conspiratorial tone, that he had to drive two hundred miles to come and sell in that market: he charged incredibly high prices for his squash, it was “a cinch,” in just two monthly visits he could earn more than enough to maintain his family and spend hours surfing on the beach.

The latter, who wore a tie, extolled the beauties of his farm: it consisted of hundreds of hectares of olive trees, stretching as far as the eye could see, and nothing else. While I was tasting his excellent organic oil on a slice of bread which reminded me of Tuscan bread—absolutely delicious—I was thinking of what he must have uprooted and cleared away in order to grow all those plants, each one of them impeccably organic.

-from Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini. ©2007 Rizzoli Ex Libris

There are a number of disturbing suggestions and some flat-out lies. The easiest finger to point is at price. Yes, the price of food at Ferry Plaza, both in the shops and at the farmers market can be high. You can spend over $3 for a single peach. You can also find bunches of spring onions for 39 cents, juicy oranges for 99 cents a pound and lettuce mix for less than five dollars a pound, all comprable to an average grocery store. Petrini full well knows that “regular” prices are artificially low and I would say it’s downright irresponsible to bring up price without mentioning what it takes to bring a 69 cent head of romaine to a grocery store. For the small independent grower, expenses add up quickly. There’s gas, business permits, labor, ag department fees, farmers market fees, organic certificatrion, water and even seed stock just to start. But as long as we’re talking about price, did you know your Slow Food membership starts at $60? For this you get a little pin of a snail, probably made in China and not by “artisan” labor, and a quarterly magazine that is always late and rarely of interest. And you get the chance to got to events like meeting Petrini and eating a hamburger for $100. I don’t believe Mr. Petrini is in a position to discuss value.

Petrini mentions that most of the customers seemed to be actresses. In my mind, this conjures up images of women in furs with big Breakfast at Tiffany’s sunglasses strolling with their snow leopards on a leash. Or at least unusually gorgeous and well-turned out women. I apologize to my customers, whom I love dearly, but San Francisico’s fashion motto could easily be “Dare to be dowdy!”, especially on a foggy Saturday morning. Try Beverly Hills or even nearby Walnut Creek if you want to see “actress types”. I mentioned this to a friend and he said, “There is a sense of glamor to the place. Maybe that’s what he’s picking up on.” I doubt it.

I think it’s great that Alice Waters introduced him to “dozens” of farmers but to see the farmers market through her eyes is not to see the market. She doesn’t even shop there! She probably knows her regular suppliers and thought she was doing them a favor by introducing them to Petrini. I sincerely doubt that all of the farmers introduced by Waters were all Silicon Valley dropouts and college grads but if they were, how wonderful! To turn away from a cubicle and work the land and show off the fruits of your labor should be something to induce pride. In the magazine Gastronomia, writer Rachel Laudan accuses Petrini and Slow Food of being “culinary luddites” and I suspect they are “ag luddities” as well. What’s even more offensive is that these two farmers who left such an impression on Petrini simply don’t exist. He made them up as a way to illustrate his points but since he doesn’t really understand the California farmers market system, the Bay Area food scene and the dynamics of suburban sprawl, he’s caught off guard. He writes about the olive oil grower who wears a suit and tie (why is this relevant at all? Oh! A big bad business man!), “I was thinking of what he must have uprooted and cleared away in order to grow all those plants, each one of them impeccably organic.” Since this farmer and this grove of olives don’t exist, it is hard to say what was uprooted, but if it’s in Northern California, there’s a better chance that this olive grove prevented more suburban sprawl rather than destroy native habitat.

The surfer example is the worst, in my book. The subtext here is that the farmer, the one Petrini chose to write about, is gouging the customer in order to go surfing. There is one rather famous surfing farmer and it’s Joe Shirmer of Dirty Girl Produce. Yes, he surfs, sometimes for extended periods, in Baja. But he’s an innovative farmer, works like a dog and sleeps in a tent on the beaches of Mexico. Joe and I exchange seeds from Baja, always looking for the elusive wild beans (frijol silvestre) of Baja and saving wild tomatillo seeds and studying legumes. But so what if all Joe did was surf on his well-earned vacations? Is this any of Petrini’s business or even mine?

The subtext is that it’s not enough that we grow food as Petrini has suggested in the past . Now we need to sell to a particular customer, charge a particular price, wear certain clothes and spend our leisure time according to his vision. I think he’s irresponsible and Slow Food should be ashamed for giving him an unrestricted platform, despite all the good things he may have done in the past.

Next: I meet Carlo Petrini in person!

Edited to add copyright info.

Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to rancho_gordo for his thought-provoking post.

I am a paid-up card-carrying Slow Food member, but I did not see rancho_gordo's post as divisive or overly critical.

Without passing value judgments on the people at the market, I thought part of the Slow Food Manifesto was that traditional organic methods should be preserved without too much regard to the monetary cost of doing so. Therefore, consumers (or co-producers, as Petrini likes to term them) by implication should be prepared to pay a higher price for products that are good, clean and fair. After all, it is the commodification and "industrialisation" of agriculture (if that's not a contradiction in terms) and insane no-holds-barred cost-cutting that has reduced much of mainstream modern farming to what it is today.

Articles in issue after issue of Slow are devoted to the unique produce of various communities and the cost of maintaining such practices without destroying the environment. Case in point: the Presidia and the Ark are filled with livestock breeds which do not grow as fast as your regular pink pig, and are therefore uncommercial to produce. What are you supposed to do? Slow Food exhorts you to fork out for flavour, keep the farmers and their traditional practices going and assist in the maintenance of genetic diversity.

From that vantage point, is it therefore even valid for price comparisons to be made with "conventional" products (which I understand to mean mass-produced, chemical-influenced, GMOs)?

Slow Food aims to stimulate demand for these traditional farming products by creating a bond between the producer and the consumer; the natural result of that is a price increase for the traditional product if demand is sufficient. If consumers value their organic produce enough to pay such a high price, I would say that the Ferry Plaza market is an expression, albeit one of many possible, of Slow Food's goals.

I wholeheartedly agree with rancho_gordo that what any farmer does in their spare time is none of our business. Petrini's writing reeked of cynicism, as if he were grasping at some sort of journalistic angle and trying to flesh this angle out as best he could. The image of peppers being ostentatiously displayed as jewels seems an attempt to perpetuate the image of bad fat America where good produce is fetishi(z)ed and accessible only to the rich and glamorous.

Again, my gratitude for bringing this to my attention. This thread should stay on the board as it brings a much-needed independent perspective on the movement.

PS I don't even get a pin.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, his criticisms strike me as paradoical given that (as alluded to in your post) a chronic problem with the US market is that we expect to get huge amounts of produce very cheaply. It's exactly the opposite of what I experienced living in Italy, where I didn't see people expecting to get a big bag of indestructible oranges for a buck or something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a somewhat-tarnished and not-recently-worn snail in my jewelry box. I am not willing to entirely throw the baby out with the bath water, but I have also found some troubling nconsistencies and issues with Slow Food, both globally and locally. I don't think anyone is a sacred cow (Waters, Slow Food, Earthbound Farms, Whole Foods) - people start out with the best of intentions but it's tough not to slip off of the pedestal. I hate to see folks who are generally in the same corner taking pot shots at one another. Clearly his piece is anecdotal and surely the specific growers are composites of several people and, in combining them, he does a disservice to all. The word "irresponsible" comes to mind.

I attended a workshop sponsored by the KC Food Circle in December and one of the sesions was on pricing. One of the presenters is a fabulous local grower, but one whose prices are unapologetically high. I've purchased and enjoyed more than one $4 tomato from him. It was interesting to hear him say that he couldn't afford to buy their produce at retail rate but to explain how they arrive at the pricing.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the Slow Food movement, which I'm inclined to support in priciple, often seems to reek with evangelical ardor.

I believe rancho-gordo and Mr Petrini both raise some interesting points, but heated arguments over their differences is akin to debating how much organic cilantro a Slow Food Angel can grow on the head of a pin.

SB (no offense intended :wink: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would add that it's possible to support and appreciate a lot of the good stuff Slow has done and still be very critical of it.

My gut level feeling is the US group (and all others) need to cut ties to Italy and let each country evolve on its own, without Mr Petrini's help.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My gut level feeling is the US group (and all others) need to cut ties to Italy and let each country evolve on its own, without Mr Petrini's help.

Your post is indeed interesting and I don't blame you for being offended, especially by what you present as convenient fictive caricatures of farmers at a market you know so well.

However, I don't think cutting ties with the Italian organization for the sake of forging a superior American institution, especially on the basis of this one incident, is the answer.

I like the idea that a hot-headed Italian chauvanist accomplished so much in the name of the principles he passionately supports. I also like the fact that Slow Food has developed into an international movement which it really should be.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My gut level feeling is the US group (and all others) need to cut ties to Italy and let each country evolve on its own, without Mr Petrini's help.

Your post is indeed interesting and I don't blame you for being offended, especially by what you present as convenient fictive caricatures of farmers at a market you know so well.

However, I don't think cutting ties with the Italian organization for the sake of forging a superior American institution, especially on the basis of this one incident, is the answer.

I like the idea that a hot-headed Italian chauvanist accomplished so much in the name of the principles he passionately supports. I also like the fact that Slow Food has developed into an international movement which it really should be.

It's just the needs of the different countries are so complex. I didn't say a "superior" American institution but I would say we need one that is better at dealing with our problems.

There are many more problems with Slow than this one incident. I believe a lot of people have found reason to be disappointed in the group. They can be arrogant and elitist, depending on the chapter and who is running it. I think this is just the smoking gun I suspected was there all along.

i think it would be great if he broke a big bottle of champagne over the bow of the ship and let sail where it needs to, always thankful that he started it.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a slow cook but not a Slow Cook, let me just say that this thread is very educational.

I thought the Petrini spin was rather vicious, and RG's reply was eloquent. Personally I'd love to tell Petrini "I don't mind paying the high prices, because the farmer should be able to live at least as well as I do!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a slow cook but not a Slow Cook, let me just say that this thread is very educational. 

I thought the Petrini spin was rather vicious, and RG's reply was eloquent.  Personally I'd love to tell Petrini "I don't mind paying the high prices, because the farmer should be able to live at least as well as I do!

Well said Abra. I pay a premium for things at my local Southern California farmers market. When the vendor has a limited supply of lovingly displayed ripe strawberries, and there are pink stains in the dirty creases of her fingers and she tells me she picked them this morning, and they also taste wonderful- I just feel really lucky. I also think of EGullet's chardgirl and her early morning trecks with the kids and the not easy lifestyle. That was a nasty or just ignorant tale on Petrini's part.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tone I pick up from the Petrini excerpt that you posted, rancho_gordo, is that Mr. Petrini finds something unreal, precious, dilettantish, about the producers and retailers he encountered in the Ferry Building and the food they sold. Perhaps it was the air in San Francisco that got to him; after all, there are those who would characterize the entire city in this fashion.

Now, I guess that in Italy, everyone who is involved in this sort of pursuit are the salt of the earth, live modestly and put in long hours to produce what they produce, which they sell at prices Giuseppe and Gianina Sixpack can afford. Something tells me that this assumption would be every bit as inaccurate as the assumptions Petrini made in that excerpt.

And yet, for all the condescension that drips from Petrini's prose, and for all that he gets things wrong -- I too noted that there was food to be had in the Ferry Building for prices that weren't way out of line, and I didn't even visit on a day when the farmers' market was set up -- there are some serious questions that are worth addressing, questions that the respondents here so far seem to answer through what they do not say rather than what they do.

The most serious of the implied questions is this: Why can't food that respects the planet be sold at prices an average consumer can afford? Those may not have been actresses carting home those peppers, but they sure were affluent: in the course of researching an argument I was making about the upcoming Philadelphia mayoral primary on Phillyblog, I noted that San Francisco has, if not the highest, one of the highest median household incomes of any large US city. That most definitely makes it atypical, and were the Ferry Building in, say, a city in the Central Plains, a lot of its customers might be making whistling noises and scratching their heads at the same displays that set Petrini off. "Quality costs more," true, but not everyone is going to be able to "just pay more," and I thought that the ultimate goal of Slow Food was to improve the quality of what everyone eats. Saying that cheap food costs us in other ways probably doesn't make much of an impression on the person who is trying to make $75 feed four people for a week; what counts is how much cash she must part with.

Petrini may not really care all that much about this issue, but it certainly can be divined by reading between the lines of his sneer. And just because he sneers doesn't mean it's not an issue we should care about.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most serious of the implied questions is this:  Why can't food that respects the planet be sold at prices an average consumer can afford?  Those may not have been actresses carting home those peppers, but they sure were affluent:  in the course of researching an argument I was making about the upcoming Philadelphia mayoral primary on Phillyblog, I noted that San Francisco has, if not the highest, one of the highest median household incomes of any large US city.  That most definitely makes it atypical, and were the Ferry Building in, say, a city in the Central Plains, a lot of its customers might be making whistling noises and scratching their heads at the same displays that set Petrini off.  "Quality costs more," true, but not everyone is going to be able to "just pay more," and I thought that the ultimate goal of Slow Food was to improve the quality of what everyone eats.  Saying that cheap food costs us in other ways probably doesn't make much of an impression on the person who is trying to make $75 feed four people for a week; what counts is how much cash she must part with.

MarketStEl, in some way, the simplest answer to your question is if food is grown in a manner acceptable according to "Slow Food," (or even organic farmers), you would lose the advantages of using GMOs with higher yields and immunity to disease, the protection from pest and disease through the use of chemical pesticides, the loss to productivity through use of chemical fertilisers and perhaps even intensive irrigation. And if we were to take it one step further and use livestock such as the black pig of Bigorre, the time and age at which these beasts become marketable puts you right behind the 8-ball in terms of making money. Yet many of your fixed costs would remain the same, such as the cost of farming land, and inputs such as tractors, petrol etc. This would result in increased spoilage and significantly reduced yields - the cost per unit to keep the farmers afloat would increase, thereby putting it beyond the affordability of most. On a less macro level, farms need to pay for organic certification, and the bureaucracy needs to ensure that members are complying with the set standards.

In Australia, we are currently struggling with one of the worse droughts on record and cyclones which elevated the price of bananas to $14+ per kilo at one stage, so we are doing pretty badly on the affordable produce front without having to factor in all of the above.

It is perhaps unfortunate that when it comes to maintaining a tight household budget, food is one of the prime examples where you can easily obtain "perfect substitutes" - a banana against an organic banana, for example. It is also true that the more well-off will be the ones able to afford this. If all mainstream farming reverted to the old ways, this would not be an issue. However, much of farming is dominated by the commercial clout of supermarket chains who are more interested in the cost and volume dimensions of production than concerns as to sustainability. Obviously, there will need to be a reckoning when breaking point approaches.

Without being an apologist for Slow Food, whilst the affordability of good, clean and fair food for the everyman may be the eventual goal, it is clearly not realisable at the moment. It would take a serious realignment of priorities and thought processes for individuals, industry and government to make this possible.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm naive but it seems organic prices are settling down a bit. A lot of small growers have abandoned organic certification while continuing the practices (another reason to shop at a farmers market so you can know your grower) and if you buy seasonally, I don't think it's all that much more expensive.

I wonder if some of his disdain for the market and ferry plaza has something to do with the fact the neither Petrini nor Slow Food had anything to do with its success. The building is a justifiable source of civic pride for San Franciscans and the Bay Area as a whole but it grew organically, so to speak, long before Slow Food's manifesto hit our shores. Slow Food is planning a big event called Slow Food Nation to regionally show off food producers but I'm trying to think what this event can offer that a Saturday at the ferry plaza can't. I was invited to participate in Slow Food Nation and my uncanny intuition tells me this invitation will get lost in the mail.

Petrini met with four farmers who sell at the market, all of whom had been to one or both Terra Madre conferences. I was one of them and it didn't go well, to say the least. He has a very short fuse and he reminded me of a politician who surrounds himself with Yes-men or a Michael Jackson type that has been protected from the outside. He was the opposite of the charismatic speaker I'd heard about.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm naive but it seems organic prices are settling down a bit. A lot of small growers have abandoned organic certification while continuing the practices (another reason to shop at a farmers market so you can know your grower) and if you buy seasonally, I don't think it's all that much more expensive.

I wonder if some of his disdain for the market and ferry plaza has something to do with the fact the neither Petrini nor Slow Food had anything to do with its success. The building is a justifiable source of civic pride for San Franciscans and the Bay Area as a whole but it grew organically, so to speak, long before Slow Food's manifesto hit our shores. Slow Food is planning a big event called Slow Food Nation to regionally show off food producers but I'm trying to think what this event can offer that a Saturday at the ferry plaza can't. I was invited to participate in Slow Food Nation and my uncanny intuition tells me this invitation will get lost in the mail.

Petrini met with four farmers who sell at the market, all of whom had been to one or both Terra Madre conferences. I was one of them and it didn't go well, to say the least. He has a very short fuse and he reminded me of a politician who surrounds himself with Yes-men or a Michael Jackson type that has been protected from the outside. He was the opposite of the charismatic speaker I'd heard about.

Would you be willing to elaborate on your meeting with Petrini? Why did he meet with you? Why didn't it go well?

I've been fascinated with Petrini ever since I visited the University of Gastronomic Sciences near Bra. Fascinated in a "watching a train wreck", sort of way. The very sort of clientele: rich, glamorous, dilentante that he mocks in San Francisco, is exactly the same sort that he courts to be students at his University.

Rancho Gordo, if you feel that you or other growers need to split from Slow Food, then you should follow your instincts. Or is it better to stay within the group, and attempt change from within?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a fascinating discussion. I think that Slow Food is an important organization and does some very good things that I am happy to support even if I do not support everything that Carlo Petrini, the founder and main spokesperson of the organization says and does.

Petrini clearly wants the goal of Slow Food available to the masses, but he can be a bit hypocritical as he enjoys and courts many of the same elements that he apparently disapproved of at The Ferry Plaza Market. I have no problem with that market. It is a prime market and operates by supply and demand receiving a premium by virtue of the quality and reputation of its farmers as well as its prime location. It is not representative of the bulk of the farmer's Markets in the US nor should it be, but it does benefit the other markets because it elevates the idea of shopping at said markets.

Steven, I don't blame you for being insulted, but I would urge you to not throw the baby out with the bath water. Slow food USA is much different than Slow Food International for better or worse. That may be what Petrini was getting at as he sees a different attitude than his own.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would you be willing to elaborate on your meeting with Petrini? Why did he meet with you? Why didn't it go well?

I've been fascinated with Petrini ever since I visited the University of Gastronomic Sciences near Bra.  Fascinated in a "watching a train wreck", sort of way.  The very sort of clientele: rich, glamorous, dilentante that he mocks in San Francisco, is exactly the same sort that he courts to be students at his University.

I've been trying to prepare words for days but I really want to seperate my feelings towards the man I met on Saturday and the message. He was very nasty and wouldn't listen at all. I'm still trying to figure out what he was saying.

We had a group of Slow Food kids/teens/young people here from Italy who were touring the world, learning about wine making and sustainable food practices. This was in Napa (which has a great SF group, by the way) and they met with me and some locals and it was distrubing how not on board these kids were. One claimed if she wanted tropical fruit in the alps in Decemeber, she was going to pay the price and enoy what she wanted. I'm not so hardcore that I wouldn't do the same but I was surprised that we were arguing with them about sustainable ag issues. Theyu also had no natural curiosity about anything. My impression was these were probably the kids of the clientele you describe, but of course I don't know.

Rancho Gordo, if you feel that you or other growers need to split from Slow Food, then you should follow your instincts.  Or is it better to stay within the group, and attempt change from within?

I'm no longer a member of Slow Food. If they ask me to participate and it's a chance to share my heirloom beans or push my native foods agenda (which doesn't mean no Old World food, just learning and saving New World varierties that are in danger), I certainly would.

I think best thing they do is bring like-minded people together and eat and talk and plan how to make the very best food possible. But this is a local thing.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know that slow food

is mostly in your mind

Cookin' that slow food

Takes up all of your time

Dissin' our slow food

In kangaroo court

Jivin' bout slow food

Well, life is too short

Now eatin' that slow food

Is what we want to do

And to be even cooler

We eat it where it grew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had a group of Slow Food kids/teens/young people here from Italy who were touring the world, learning about wine making and sustainable food practices. This was in Napa (which has a great SF group, by the way) and they met with me and some locals and it was distrubing how not on board these kids were. One claimed if she wanted tropical fruit in the alps in Decemeber, she was going to pay the price and enoy what she wanted. I'm not so hardcore that I wouldn't do the same but I was surprised that we were arguing with them about sustainable ag issues. Theyu also had no natural curiosity about anything. My impression was these were probably the kids of the clientele you describe, but of course I don't know.

Rancho Gordo, if you feel that you or other growers need to split from Slow Food, then you should follow your instincts.  Or is it better to stay within the group, and attempt change from within?

I'm no longer a member of Slow Food. If they ask me to participate and it's a chance to share my heirloom beans or push my native foods agenda (which doesn't mean no Old World food, just learning and saving New World varierties that are in danger), I certainly would.

I think best thing they do is bring like-minded people together and eat and talk and plan how to make the very best food possible. But this is a local thing.

That sounds exactly like the type of students that I met. If they are touring the world to discuss sustainable ag, you would think there would be a little sympathy & curiosity.

Yes, saving New World varieties would be a local thing, and extracting the good things from Slow Food would be to your advantage.

Just having this dialogue on eGullet is a positive step toward consumer awareness.

Brava Abra! Very clever!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had someone respond on my blog about all the good things they do, and I agree it's possible to admire them and still be critical. But she mentioned the arc of taste and seed saving.

I am curious about the seed saving. Does Slow actually have a seed bank or are they supporting organizations like Native Seeds/SEARCH and Seeds Savers Exchange? Where is the Slow Food seed bank if there is one? I'm not being smug; I really don't know.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had someone respond on my blog about all the good things they do, and I agree it's possible to admire them and still be critical. But she mentioned the arc of taste and seed saving.

I am curious about the seed saving. Does Slow actually have a seed bank or are they supporting organizations like Native Seeds/SEARCH and Seeds Savers Exchange? Where is the Slow Food seed bank if there is one? I'm not being smug; I really don't know.

Like all self-righteous movements, slow foods seems to be a victim of its own success. That's what I get here, though really, what matters is the base of the message which is falling more in line with the mainstream today. Slow food may have started it, but the rest of us are keeping it alive. What happens with the man and the organization is simply a diversion.

Save the Deliwww.savethedeli.com
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the world's ultimate seed bank somewhere in Norway? And Slow Foods doesn't have a thing to do with it?

I read an excellent article on this in the last couple of months in New Scientist but do not have the time to run it to ground.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the world's ultimate seed bank somewhere in Norway?  And Slow Foods doesn't have a thing to do with it?

I read an excellent article on this in the  last couple of months in New Scientist but do not have the time to run it to ground.

And here it is:).

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18925343.700

This has been an interesting thread, BTW.

Have a nice night

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the world's ultimate seed bank somewhere in Norway?  And Slow Foods doesn't have a thing to do with it?

Well, ultimate, who knows? I don't think their goal is to save all the world's seed. But they do want to save certain heirloom varieties that are in danger or are failing but represent a food tradition worth preserving.

But do they physically have a seed bank somewhere?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the world's ultimate seed bank somewhere in Norway?  And Slow Foods doesn't have a thing to do with it?

Well, ultimate, who knows? I don't think their goal is to save all the world's seed. But they do want to save certain heirloom varieties that are in danger or are failing but represent a food tradition worth preserving.

But do they physically have a seed bank somewhere?

There is a physical seed bank, tucked away someplace deep in Scandanavia - possibly Norway - that is a sort of ark of plants. I'm not sure they're simply focusing on rare or endangered or heirloom varieties, but it's been a while since I read about it. I do not recall hearing it discussed in connection with the Slow Foods movement. I really don't think they're connected.

This is a very interesting thread. I'm afraid I'm just sitting back and taking it in without having anything to contribute, but I'm glad to be reading the discussion.

Edited: gaah. Ark. The word is "ark", not "arc".

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not aware of Slow food physically maintaining any seed bank. Rather, I believe they support the preservation of biodiversity by supporting and calling attention to people and organizations that are working in the field to do just that. With their "Ark of Taste" they call attention to specific products and their Slow Food Award for the Preservation of Biodiversity honors those people doing yeoman's work in the field. I do believe that one of the best things the organization has done is focus attention on the topic and on specific products and producers.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...