Join Us: An Invitation from Slow Food Saratoga Region
In 1986 Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini stood in front of the Spanish Steps in Rome, pasta in hand, protesting what would be the first McDonalds in Italy. Meanwhile in California, chef Alice Waters became the leader of farm fresh cuisine through her passion to serve the highest quality food in her restaurant Chez Panisse. The seeds of the Slow Food Movement were planted when people all over the world sensed a threat to local food culture. Both Petrini and Waters saw that the presence of powerful agribusiness and their homogenized food products easily dominated the local farmer growing heirloom vegetables or raising a heritage breed of pig in danger of extinction. Today big business is even more of a threat to local food culture, our community’s collective knowledge of food, and the diversity that makes it unique and wonderful.
Slow Food is an international movement that supports local food and sustainability. What makes Slow Food unique is that the activism stems from emotion. At the core of Slow Food is the fact that enjoying food makes life more meaningful. Some people would argue that there is a lot of joy in a Big Mac, but I think it’s hard to argue that eating a Big Mac is meaningful. When you respect the food you eat, because you’ve walked on the land where it grew or because you know the person who raised it, you show respect for yourself and respect for the environment. When you sit down with your family for a healthy, delicious meal and everyone is smiling because they can taste the difference, there is so much meaning in that. The kind of meaning that makes life memorable. It’s not the rushing around, or eating hastily in the car that matters; it’s taking the time to make the right food choices, and putting emotion into preparing it for the people you love. If you can take the time to make more thoughtful decisions about food (and why can’t you?), slow is better.
Part of Slow Food Saratoga Region’s mission is food education; showing kids that carrots come covered in dirt, and exposing people to things they’ve never tasted. On a local level we want people to be excited about food. First comes the magic and surprise of tasting something new, then the appreciation, and then respect for the people and land that make it all possible.
Slow Food’s mission is to support Good, Clean and Fair food and the goal is to make these choices more widely available. The Farmers’ Market may seem expensive at first, but the truth is that the real cost of food at the supermarket is externalized and the burden falls on the environment. In America we believe that bigger is better, but if we can downsize our appetites and be satisfied with better quality in a smaller quantity, we’ll be better off. Instead of eating steak everyday, preparing it once for a big Sunday feast becomes a celebration, something to look forward to and savor.
We also want to get people excited about preparing food. There is so much magic in creating a meal that is more than the sum of its parts. Our potluck dinners are a great opportunity for people to come together, share recipes and linger over the wonders of cooking.
In the Capital Region and upstate New York we have a food culture to be proud of. We are surrounded by farms that grow beautiful produce all year round, and our farmers are open and welcoming. We can find locally raised meat and artisanal cheeses and we can buy them directly from the producer. Celebrating food and preserving our local food culture go hand in hand. Come join us for a potluck dinner or one of our restaurant meals, bring the kids to a farm tour, join our mailing list so we can share our passion for food with you. By connecting through food and beginning this journey of pleasure, appreciation and respect, our local food culture will grow and thrive.
President Slow Food Saratoga Region