Slow Food Charlotte: Creating a Palate with a Conscience
Oct 26, 2007 09:17PM
There is a group of people in Charlotte perfectly content to live life in the slow lane. By reawakening and training their senses, Slow Food Charlotte helps people rediscover the joys of eating and acknowledge the importance of caring where their food comes from, who makes it, how it’s made and how food choices affect the rest of the world.
Slow Food, a nonprofit organization, is an eco-gastronomic movement that is concerned with sustainability and seeing the connection between the plate and the planet. Slow Food was founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986 as a reaction to the speed at which fast food was threatening centuries-old food culture. Recognizing that the industrialization of food was standardizing taste and leading to the destruction of thousands of food flavors and varieties, he reached out to consumers to demonstrate that they had choices over fast food and supermarket homogenization.
Today Slow Food is active in more than 100 countries and has a membership of 80,000 that believe eating is fundamental to living. Elevating the quality of our food and taking the time to enjoy it is the Slow Food philosophy. Food must taste good, be produced in a clean way that doesn’t harm the environment or ourselves and the people who produce the foods should receive fair compensation.
The Charlotte chapter, which started in 2005, is dedicated to supporting and protecting small growers and artisanal producers and to marrying soulful pleasure to the table.
“We have many great farmers in our community that love working sustainably and organically, properly stewarding the land and thus those they feed,” said Andy Ciordia, technology coordinator for Slow Food Charlotte. “Slow Food is interested in reconnecting the fabric of our food sources. It begins with a meal, using the plate as a doorway into understanding, sharing and participating in regional and by extension global food choices.”
Slow Food Charlotte recently hosted Alice Waters, vice president of Slow Food and an innovator of direct farmer-chef relationships and a strong advocate for sustainable agriculture. Waters created the Edible Schoolyard, a school garden program that weaves personal responsibility, community, character and curriculum into the everyday fabric of student life. The Charlotte group is looking for ways to introduce the program into local schools.
Through culinary excursions, group meetings, workshops, seasonal food affairs, exquisite meals, horizon-broadening conversation and online discussions, the Charlotte group informs and entertains.
“It began with dinners and discussions and has been evolving ever since. We are leveraging the group into education, outreach and activism,” Ciordia said. He noted that members understand that there is a relationship between politics, agriculture and the environment.
Slow Food Charlotte encourages citizens to support local farms and farmers markets and restaurants that buy locally.
“When we support our local farms, they grow,” Ciordia said. “Charlotte is fortunate to have local and regional food producers that populate our seasonal markets as well as a many excellent restaurants. When eating out ask where the food is coming from.”
“When it comes down to it we've been commercially/industrially sold to for far too long, reducing our knowledge of that which sustains us every day. We're working on spreading the awareness of what that is costing us and how your buying choices can help change that,” he concluded.
To learn more about Slow Food Charlotte and how to become a member, visit slowfoodcharlotte.org. Â