Thank You McDonalds  (by Lisa Frank)

Picture angry Italians protesting with bowls of penne at the base of the iconic and beautiful Spanish Steps in Rome shouting “We don’t want fast food… we want slow food!  It’s not a scene from a Fellini movie, but how Carlo Petrini started Slow Food.  He and his pasta-wielding compatriots were outraged that a McDonalds was going to open there (and it did.)
His protest against the commercialization of a beloved landmark with the “Golden Arches” turned into an international organization founded in 1989 that today has over 150,000 members in more than 150 countries.

Slow Food’s mantra is good, clean, fair food for all.  They want you to eat what is seasonal and local; respect the farmer and the produce/product; nurture the earth.  Sound familiar?  They believe that food should taste like, well, food and eating should take some time.  Slow Food calls it the “pleasures of the table.”  And it is not possible when a clown is looking over your shoulder.  Or a creepy looking king.  Or in your car.  Or at your keyboard.

Slow Food opposes the homogenization of modern fast food and life.  Life is diverse.  Culture is diverse.  Food is diverse.  It should not all look or taste alike.  Preservation of traditional or heritage foods, methods of preparation, and the culture associated with them is a worth while effort.  That is the entire focus of the Center for Biodiversity.  The premise is that if unique and tradition food products that are endangered can have an economic impact they can be saved from extinction.  Enter the Presidia – local projects that devise a pathway for bringing a food or method of preparation back from the brink of being lost.  The Ark of Taste is a catalog of foods worldwide being preserved through the efforts of Presidia.  And these projects are not somewhere else.  They are here: Blenheim Apricot, Charbono wine or Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple sound familiar?  Clarksburg’s Chenin Blanc grape is close to be being listed.

Petrini wanted to make the connection between the plate, the palate and the planet.  He calles it an “eco-gastronomic” movement that connected environmental sustainability (eco) to the study of culture and food (gastronomy).  He took this idea even further by creating the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy (full disclosure, I’m an alumni) to create a new type of food professional, one who understands the entire food-production spectrum, from agricultural origins through industrial transformation and distribution, with particular attention to environmental and sustainability issues.  These leaders, or Gastronomes as he calls them (us?), understand how to connect food processes to economic as well as communication systems, and the relationships within food-and-wine tourism, marketing of high-quality products, and promoting of the rich value of regional food traditions.

On the local front, California is now it’s own Slow Food Region.  Our local chapter, Slow Food Sacramento bestows their annual “Snail of Approval” award upon local businesses that best represent the Slow Food Principles of good, clean, fair food for all.  And to toot our own horn, Local Roots Food Tours has received the Slow Food Sacramento Snail of Approval because of our commitment to support business using fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable, or as we say FLOSS!

We congratulate our partners have also received a Snail of Approval for their use of seasonal, local and organically grown foods, including Centro, Café Bernardos, Hot Italian and Kupros.

Slow Food Sacramento is always looking for volunteers to get involved, from being an ambassador at community events, to hosting one of their monthly book clubs.  Get involved today!

Local events for this fall include:

September Book Club: September 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Farm to Every Fork Fundraiser Dinner: September 13 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Joining with several organizations that service the homeless, your $150 ticket buys you dinner as well as dinner for someone from the homeless community.
National Food Day at Sacramento State :  October 24
The fourth annual Food Day at Sacramento State is a national movement created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest to encourage healthy, affordable and sustainably-produced food, as well as a grassroots campaign for better food policies.
Look for the Sacramento Food Film Festival coming March, 2015!

If you’re looking for something bigger, and I do mean much, much bigger, you should check out Slow Food International’s biennial Salone del Gusto/Terre Madre event happening the end of October in Turin, Italy.  Held in the former Fiat automobile factory, it’s been called the Olympics of Food.  That might be an understatement.  Get a taste of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWlBg9nr-HE

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