Turin, Italy moved in slow motion this weekend as thousands of vendors, speakers and visitors gathered in support of the Slow Food Movement for the well known annual event, Terra Madre – Mother Earth. From September 20th to 24th, Terra Madre took over the Lingotto Exhibition Centre. The centre played host to 5 thematic areas (bees and insects, food and health, seeds, slow foods, and slow meats), an Italian international market, 243 slow food workshops, conferences and forums.
What is Slow Food?
The Slow Food Movement was developed by a group of activists led by Carlo Petrini in the 1980’s. They united for the first time to protest the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The group was successful in rejecting the ‘fast food’ culture and preached a slow paced way of living and eating. They believed that quality, sustainability and culture, were being lost in order to meet high demands in less time. Almost 40 years later, and the concept of “a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture,” has become well-known and pursued at a global scale.
The Slow Food Standard
This weekend, Terra Madre saw to hundreds of attendees as people were eager to partake in everything the Slow Food Movement has to offer. There were numerous opportunities to speak with producers, watch live demonstrations, and listen to informative talks, all while pecking away at samples of the delicious food.
In order for someone to obtain a Slow Food certification, there are various standards that must be met. These rules must be followed in order to be considered good, clean and fair, and to partake in the impactful event. Here are a few examples:
- Packaging of the products must be minimal, easily broken down and recyclable
- Only objects made from natural materials can be used during event days
- All cheeses must be made from raw milk
- Cheeses that contain artificial preservatives, additives and colourings cannot be sold
- Plant species and varieties that are not local, native and traditionally cultivated in their production zone cannot be displayed and sold
- Products must not contain GMOs or palm oil
This weekend combined tradition with innovation. World famous pesto producers brought to us their antique pestle and mortar grinding techniques, while young chefs showcased ways to use hay in gelato, and stale bread to produce beer. The movement encourages farmers and producers to ‘be slow’ and as a result, allows them to incorporate more care and intimacy into their product. Often, the results are ingenious and sustainable.
The goals of the organization inspires people to transfer the same appreciation for time and care into their personal lives. The more present that we are in each moment, the more energy we are able to dedicate to our tasks.
Slow Food in Canada
On a national scale, 3 Canadian communities have set an example by achieving a “Slow City” recognition. Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and two communities in British Columbia, Cowichan Bay and Naramata proudly hold claim to the title.
Healthy eating has been an extremely popular topic in recent years. There are things beyond worrying about what to eat in order to have glowing skin or getting a flatter tummy. Fast-food has little to do with culture, and there certainly is no future with it. By following the examples set by the Slow Food Movement and remembering the importance of preserving the origin of our food, we can work toward securing a better future, while enjoying what we consume. We are what we eat, so let’s choose to be flavourful, natural, and passionate.