Why the name Slow Food?

It’s an ironic way of saying no to fast food. Slow Food means living an unhurried life, beginning at the table.

Why the snail symbol?

The snail was chosen because it moves slowly and calmly eats its way through life. It also happens to be a culinary specialty in the area around the northern Italian city of Bra, where the Slow Food movement was born.

So how come Slow Food was born in Bra of all places?

Bra is the hometown of founder Carlo Petrini and is located in an area famous for its wines, white truffles, cheese and beef. Dining has traditionally been way of socializing all over Italy. This town proved to be the perfect incubator for the Slow Food movement.

Does Slow Food mean organic?

Slow Food supports the principles behind organic agriculture, such as promoting methods that have a low impact on the environment and reducing the use of pesticides. Yet Slow Food argues that organic agriculture, when practiced extensively, is similar to conventional monoculture cropping, hence that organic certification alone should not be considered a sure sign that a product is grown sustainably. Though most of the Slow Food presidia practice organic techniques, very few are certified on account of the high costs of certification. To become presidia, products must be consistent with the concepts of agricultural sustainability, while Slow Food works to ensure that they are ‘good, clean and fair’. In the next few years, the Foundation for Biodiversity aims to promote (and finance, where possible) the certification of presidia products in cases in which this would broaden markets or increase earnings.

What is Slow Food’s position on genetically modified organisms?

While obviously not opposed to research by universities and public bodies, Slow Food is against the commercial planting of genetically engineered crops. We are capable of transplanting a gene from one species to another, but we are not yet capable of predicting or containing the results, which could create a threat to our natural and agricultural biodiversity. Another problem with GE crop cultivation is its tendency to take the choice of what crops to grow out of farmers’ hands. When pollen from GE fields drifts miles down the road to pollinate conventional or organic fields, farmers unwittingly put labor and capital into harvesting crops they did not plant. Slow Food believes that all products containing genetically engineered ingredients should be accurately labeled to allow consumers to make educated buying decisions.

But Americans have been eating GMOs for years without problems. Doesn’t this mean they are safe?

GMOs have been present in the United States for a long time, but consumers have not been allowed the right to know through proper labeling of food products. It is practically impossible to know who consumes GMOs. Or which or how many or how long. All this data is necessary to enable their danger to be evaluated. Consumption of GMOs could lead to the onset of new allergies. Hypersensibility and allergies are already increasing sharply among populations in industrialized countries, due to a lowering of immune defenses and exposure to environmental allergens. They risk multiplying as a result of GMOs. So those claiming that we should look to the USA for reassurance on the health effects of GMOs underestimate the complexity of the issue, or deliberately deceive the public.

How is Slow Food financed?

The international association receives most of its funding from membership fees and contributions from sponsors. Contributions from the Salone del Gusto and other international events provide funds, and revenue from merchandise and book sales also contribute to Slow Food’s financing. The seven Slow Food national associations receive membership fees, as well as additional funds from other sources, such as sponsors and institutions. Slow Food Italy, the oldest national association, boasts the most developed forms of fundraising, including the for-profit publishing house Slow Food Editore. Another Slow Food Italy for-profit branch is Slow Food Promozione, which organizes major events, sells advertising space in its publications and sources sponsors that comply with the Slow Food philosophy. In accordance with the statute, Slow Food Editore and Slow Food Promozione reinvest all income into the organization.

Does Slow Food have fundraising guidelines?

Yes. Slow Food follows fundraising guidelines designed to create long-term partnerships with donors and sponsors, based on mutual understanding and shared philosophy. Donors and sponsors cannot conduct activities that conflict with the movement’s philosophy, and Slow Food conserves total autonomy over its own choices and activities. The complete fund-raising guidelines can be downloaded here.

Where does my membership fee go?

The membership fees are divided between the local chapter and the various offices of Slow Food’s international headquarters, which provide membership benefits. On a local level, they are used to plan convivium activities. Internationally, they are used to fund projects for biodiversity. Once a national association is established, the membership fee goes to support it, while the national association, in turn, supports Slow Food International.

Can I use the Slow Food logo for my products or restaurant?

No, the Slow Food logo is a registered trademark and can be used only in connection with Slow Food’s national, international and convivium events. Guidelines for the use of the Slow Food logo are can be downloaded here.

What are Cittaslow?

Slow Food has encouraged the growth of the Cittaslow (Slow Cities) movement, an autonomous group of towns and cities committed to improving the quality of life of their citizens, especially with regard to food. Slow Cities adhere to a series of guidelines to make them more pleasant places to live: e.g., closing the town center to traffic one day a week and adopting infrastructure policies that maintain the characteristics of the town. Slow Cities seek to safeguard traditional foods, creating spaces and occasions for direct contact between quality producers and co-producers. Slow Cities have sprung up everywhere from Norway to Brazil, with several dozen in Italy alone.


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