The Slow food movement originated in Italy in 1986 as an attempt to combat fast food through opposing the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant near the Spanish steps in Rome. This movement was founded by Carlo Petrini and declares that it maintains cultural cuisine and related plants and animals as well as farming within an ecoregion. Slow food aims to “…defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers…with co-producers…” Slow Food believes in the recognition of strong connection between enjoying good food and drink as well as saving the traditional grains, vegetables, fruits, animal breeds and food products which are continually disappearing due to the prevalence of convenience foods and industrial agribusiness. Slow Food seeks to protect our invaluable food heritage.
The products in the slow food movement are generally produced locally in community gardens and thus the retainment of nutritional content of the food is high. As little travel is involved, food miles are minimal and little pollution is released and the environment is not damaged. The slow food philosophy is to use resources which are produced in a “good, clean and fair” way, thus the use of dangerous pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers is minimal or non existent.
The founder of the Slow Food Movement’s reasoning behind producing food that is “Good, clean and fair” is portrayed through, “The quest for slowness, which begins as a simple rebellion against the impoverishment of taste in our lives, makes it possible to rediscover taste. By living slowly, you understand other things, too; by slowing down in comparison to the world, you soon come into contact with what the world regards as its “dumps” of knowledge, which have been deemed slow and therefore marginalized. By exploring the “margins” of slowness, you encounter those pockets of supposedly “minor” culture that are alive in the memories of old people, typical of civilizations that have not yet become frantic-traditions that guide the vital work of good, clean, and fair producers and that are handed down after centuries of empiricism and practical skill” (Petrini: 2007).
The slow food movement also encourages local and small businesses. “Programs that emphasize community gardens, food education and local businesses bolster the local economy, keep money within the locality, develop knowledge about food and health, and begin to shape one’s local and world view.” Through developing and encouraging local production chains, slow food reduces the global transfer of food and money, thus putting focus back on the local communities. As slow food encourages local communities, the focus is placed onto the people of the community. The slow food movement provides an opportunity for people to be able to cook together or sit together to have a meal in which they can chat rather than eat a meal without interaction with others. The slow food movement regards the consumption of fast food as a relatively meaningless act which prevents opportunities of socialising, thus it promotes the pleasure and enjoyment in food.
Although the advancement of the Fast Food industry has provided more and cheaper dining opportunities; it has come with the price of destroying the environment, economy, and small-town communities while protecting the consumers from the real costs of their convenient meals, both in terms of health and the diverse impact of large-scale food production and processing on workers, animals, and land. Therefore; it is hard to deny that the slow food movement, which is promoting the delight and gratification in food while protecting the environment and cultural heritage, is not preferred to the fast food industry.