Slow Food Movement: A Permacultural Digest

Slow Food Movement monitoring news: A digest of recent articles and publications on the Movement and how they relate to Permaculture compiled by Jorja Callow

07/ November 2014

What Slow Food can teach Clean Energy by Sonja van Renssen

From Renssen’s time in Turin at the biennial Slow Food fair, she has made the conclusion that the slow food movement had many similarities to the clean energy movement.

She has discussed this claim through four points

  • The story

A products label should tell the story. President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is measuring the carbon footprint of a series of Slow Food products to put on the label. Which compared to conventional products, the Slow Food versions show saving of up to 60%. Renssen says that this thinking can be easily transferred to the energy sector, where a debate over how to extend the A to G scale label for energy-related products is underway in Brussels. But more generally, she talks about the consumer needing to know where their energy comes from and how it is brought to them to support the changes—and investment—required in the energy system. They need to know information about ‘where and how energy is generated (place of origin), its environmental and societal impact (allergens) and how best to use it (nutritional information.’

  • Involve people: instil ownership

Renssen talks about hallmarks of today’s food culture where there is ‘no time for the old and young, no seasons, no need to eat around a table’ and how the same could be said of energy, where we take for granted the ‘clock almost as a natural service provided without human intervention’. She makes the statement that ‘just as Slow Food seeks to reconnect people to food production—and with it, nature—the renewables and efficiency lobbies are tapping into a latent desire to be self-sufficient, responsible, and in charge.’ A decentralised energy system gives people the chance to showcase their local identity and be proud of where they come from, Renssen says.

  • Partner up: look for allies

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, made emphasis at the recent fair on the need to partner up—‘Sometimes maybe we should not be the main protagonist’. He mentioned Greenpeace, ActionAid, and WWF as potential partners for Slow Food. “We must find a way to join forces, create synergies.’ Renssen goes on to say, “Slow Food is growing up and the same is true for the new, green, clean parts of the energy sector.” As policy makers react by tightening subsidies and priority grid access, campaigners will have to look for alliances across the environmental, social and economic dimension to make their case.

  • Use the law: force policymakers to act

With reference to Jamie Oliver, Renssen concludes that in food, as in energy, the status quo is “very rich, very strategic and very well dug in.” She then goes to mention how Oliver changed laws in England regard food for children in schools. She creates the linkage between Slow Food and the energy sector by discussing that “Governments only change if they feel they will lose the vote”, that businesses are concerned about short-term products and families about convenience. She says, “These are the obstacles those trying to change the energy sector also face.”

Renssen concludes her articles by stating “a more local economy is a more resilient economy. Bot for food—as for energy—the more local it is, the greater the challenge to steady supples too.”  Both sectors require infrastructure investments. “Slow Food’s first and foremost objective is putting consumers back at the heart of food and its production, however—and here is a lesson in itself for energy.”

11/ November 2014

A Delicious Revolution by Sophie McComas

Dialogue between Peter Gilmore and Alice Waters. Peter Gilmore is an award-winning chef at Sydney’s Quay restaurants, he is also one of the first chefs in Australia to embrace the potential of vegetable gardens, and is a huge supporter of Australian Product. Alice Waters is the founder of the Berkeley restaurants, Chez Panisse, and the creator of the Edible Schoolyard Project in America.

Before Waters talk at the Sydney Opera House the following day, Gilmore interviewed Waters on her thoughts of the future of Slow Food. The importance of the younger generations knowing of food production and creating ownership and respect over it, is an element Waters places an emphasis on—she also commends Stephanie Alexander, an Australian Chef, whom has created the Kitchen Garden for schools here in Australia. Depth into statistical representation of eating behaviours of Americas is discussed, and the question is posed to Waters: “So would you say that you are hopeful for the future?” Waters expresses that with our combined efforts, and really focusing on what we want, we can make the difference. This is where she discusses the delicious revolution, where “we are not trying to overthrow anything, we are trying to win people over and that’s a very different idea… its opening your eyes and seeing the sunset, it’s like putting something in your mouth that’s irresistible. This is about connecting with fiends and falling in love with nature. We have a lot of nature to fall in love with.”

17/ November 2014

Alice Waters: Slow Food and the Edible Schoolyard Project ­on Life Matters ABC program

Origins of the slow food movement for Waters:

Went to France at the age of 19, early 60’s, where Waters felt France was really a slow food culture. Her knowledge and appreciation was opened by the experience of eating oysters straight out of the water and produce straight from the market. She then opened Chez Panisse, where an emphasis was on organic and local, taking care of the land and the local organic people.  She then wrote the certified organic ordinance for the state of California where farm workers pay was addressed as well as no herbicides or pesticides.

On class and the slow food movement:

Waters claims that the fast food culture is trying to make us believe that we’re in an elitist movement, that they (fast food) are with the people—they are producing something that’s fast, cheap, and easy—and that’s what people want. Waters thinks food can be affordable, but when it’s cheap, somebody is missing out. And that somebody is often the farmer.

On school vegetable gardens and the Edible Schoolyard Project:

Waters expresses that interactive education is the best way to engage children to really learn in a deep way. Everything that she outlines and teaches in this program is about the most important work—learning how to take care of the land, learning how to nourish themselves, and learning how to communicate at the table. “It’s like a basic education we need for the globe. I thing that’s something magical, and some so desirable.”


14/ December 2014

The Slow Food Movement by Mamabake

Personal article

This article, written in the ACT, showcases what Slow Food is by starting off the piece with a personal story of collect fresh produce from their local farmers market to “stock up for the week.”. The piece then goes onto a brief historical perspective of how the Slow Food movement started in 1986 and talks about Slow Food celebrating and supporting good, clean, fair food—fighting passive consumerism and food waste. The bulk of the article is illustrating a clear pride for the Slow Food movement that surrounds the author. Where they are “lucky enough here in the ACT to have… most active Slow Food Convivia in Australia.”

This is article is a beautiful representation of local peoples support and pride for their own growth, be it personal, physical, in the ground, or fermenting in jars. It illustrates how simple it is to supply the weeks fresh food needs of produce, bread, meat, dairy, and artisan products.


17/ December 2014

Catching the “Slow Food Movement” Train by Marla Gulley

Personal Article

Gulley’s article illustrates her passion and involvement in valuing the ethics behind the Slow Food Movement. The article coincides with her experience with the Salone del Gusto/ Terre Madre Day 2014, which is a 5 day event held every two years in Turin, Italy, and arguably is the largest and main international event that the Slow Food hosts kick off. Gulley explains the main networks of Slow Food International through 4 points:

  • That it is a network of members throughout the world
  • That Terra Madre Network is an international network of food communities where groups of small-scale producers and others unite by the production of a particular food and closely linked to a geographic area
  • The Slow Food Youth Network is a worldwide network of young people creating a better future through food
  • The University of Gastronomic Sciences came to being in 2004, becoming the first university of its kind and offering a holistic approach to food studies.

Gulley then goes on to explain that Slow Food International’s main focus of action is through defending food biodiversity, food and taste education, and holding international events to facilitate defending biodiversity, education and promoting networks.

The bulk of Gulley’s article is on her experience at the Slow Food international event—Salone del Gusto / Terra Madre. She places emphasis on connecting with small scale farmers in small remote, and beautiful towns in Italy where she buys rare beans to support them. She also expresses her value on the Slow Food Youth Network that had respective informative stalls at the event.

Gulley retrospective account of Salone del Gusto/ Terra Madre is an insightful piece with sound historical perspectives. For the reader, a space is created to live in the mind of the author as they explore the Slow Food event. It is a personal and insightful piece.


19/ January 2015

Five Question with Richard McCarthy of Slow Food USA

Interview by Food Tank USA

Richard McCarthy is the executive director of Slow Food USA, who was one on of the speakers at the 2015 Food Tank Summit. Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with him before his presentation.

The brief interview goes into detailing what Richard McCarthy’s points of discussion will be at the event—resiting the echoes of the 2th century calling out for scale and efficiency, and to balance between hoy and justice all around the world. McCarthy feels he is bettering the food system by “growing communities around the alternative field economy.” Subsequently, these hubs serve as bases for supportive networks for everyone from ‘field-to-fork’ to ‘lake-to-plate’. McCarthy expresses that the obstacles that are facing these goals in bettering the food system are the pace and pressures of industrial life thwart volunteerisms, increasing the risks for everyday people to make changes, obscure the externalities imbedded in our current food system, and banishing the people to rigid lives of lonely and homogenised consumerism.

This brief interview gives insight into an organisations standing point, in America, on current issues that we are facing in regards to our food systems.


24/ January 2015

Slow Food Movement in Penang

The Holiday and Travel Magazine: Author Unknown

This article is written on a detached observational view. It discusses the movement in Penang’s dining scene and the farm-to-table concept. With a brief historical perspective on the origins of the Slow Food Movement, the author has made note of the evolvement from “defending regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life” to “embracing a comprehensive approach to food that recognises the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics, and culture.” Which reference to Penang, the author discusses the society of slow food. A short case study is put forward to Yin’s Sourdough Bakery where owner, Su Yun, a biochemistry graduate with a passion for baking, creates beautiful bread with traditional methods. The author also discusses cooking class instructor Nazlina Hussin who avoids packed and bottles ingredients as “the food tastes so different when you pay attention to your ingredients and methods of cooking.” The last societal reference is Green Acres farm in Balik Palau, where only six years ago it was created and today consists of 500 tropical fruit trees and spices all of which are chemical-free and organic.


21/ January 2015

The quick-quick-slow food movement ­ by Laura Pope (London based Chef)

This article, titled with the Slow Food Movement in mind, is bulked with beautiful recipes using two different methods, both a delight to any foodie. Pope discusses her passion to become back to the healthy locavore she was before Christmas, with the extra aid of two Christmas presents: a Vitamix (hugely powerful blender) and a crock-pot-cooker (slow cooker).

This blog post illustrates the everyday life recipes of someone who is passionate about local, organic produce. It was not so much about the historical perspective of the Slow Food Movement or any other statistics relating directly to it. However, the underlying message in this post is about Slow Food as it expresses the joy and health that the author has obtained from living with said movements.


27/ January 2015

Slow Food: The Fight Against Fast Food by Beth Morrissey

Online article post

This online article is targets at a younger audience. It gives insight into the history of slow food—started in 1980’s by an Italian and today over 120 countries have Slow Food organisation, with an estimation of close to 100,000 individuals belong to these organisations. It clearly articulated the aims of Slow Food, that “in addition to teaching individuals about … local crops… traditional methods of cooking and processing… also aims to fights against heavily processed, preserved and pre-packaged foods.” Morrissey makes the connection of Slow Food illustrating how modern parts of the world have become as they can have whatever produce they want whenever they want—there is no such thing as seasons anymore. The author empowers the audience to start relocalising their intake and that simple steps such as visiting and supporting local farmers market not only help the farmers but also give insight into what is growing when for the punter. Morrissey then continues on this path by expressing that it can be quite simple and easy to start growing your own produce in back gardens, allotments, in ports of growing bags with the benefit of no pesticides, no genetic medication, cheaper prices, more flavour, more variety, less pollution to the environment, and exercise and fresh air whilst doing so.

This article articulates the Slow Food Movement on a grass roots scale. The author creates the availability to, but not limited to, a younger target audience. This empowers the younger generation which is closely related to one of the aims of the whole movement.


12/ March 2015

A World Full of Corn

Published by Slow Food – Online Article Post

This article, published on the Slow Food website, is an insight into the “Discover Biodiversity” exhibition later on in the year. It discusses the issues of we are what we eat: corn. It makes references to Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma where the investigation is made into tracing the origins of foods that are eaten daily. The first chapter deals with industrial food, including mono-cropping and the products that fill the supermarket shelves. Pollan argues that if we are what we eat – and if we eat industrial food – then what we are is corn. This article, biased for the Slow Food movement as its’ publishing origins are closely related to the Slow Food movement, gives interlude into the up-coming exhibition as well as clearly articulating industrial mono-cropping.


March Newsletter

Hong Kong Slow Food

This public newsletter, published monthly, touches base with the start of their respective New Year and gives thought to new year resolutions. It links into their own groups values and goals, going into 2015, by discussing what the Slow Food Movement is.

From this newsletter the length this group has been established for is unknown. However, information given is of historical context and steps towards increasing the Slow Food values on the People Forefront (i.e. ‘vital to be mindful, even vigilant, of our daily decisions around food; to understand that our choices have an impact on ourselves… community… environment…) Increasing the Slow Food values by the people power is described through 3 points:

  1. Growth! We want to grow in membership and engage more Hong Kongers to show our movement’s strength in numbers.
  2. Events! We want to bring you more exciting events and activities that will expand and challenge what you know about food.
  3. Community! We want to get involved in our community. We want to work with local primary and secondary schools to get our future generations thinking about their influence on the planet. We want to help our fellow, like-minded individuals and groups; highlight responsible local producers; support local businesses that promote slow food; and preserve food cultures and traditions that are a part of Hong Kong’s heritage.

This newsletter provides advice and insight for members and is a resource for future readers. It is related to permaculture teachings as it resourceful manner empowers the reader.



15/ April 2015

Forget fast food, slow down for better well-being

Authors Lauren Williams, John Germov—online article


Independent online publisher, The Conversation, held forth for professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Canberra, Lauren Williams, and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Education and Arts at University of Newcastle, John Germov, posted Forget fast food, slow down for better well-being.

2 studies of Slow Food have been referenced

  • Explored the representation of Slow Food within the Australian print media to provide insight into how the public opinion may be formed. Slow Food was portrayed in a positive but largely uncritical, apolitical way, despite the left-wing origins of the movement. Examining the theme of the data, the conductors found an emphasis on slowing down the pace of life—time was both an opportunity to be taken, and a harsh master:

The Slow Food philosophy enjoins us to take the time to enjoy one of life’s daily pleasures… there’s no doubt that cooking, eating and life in general is a lot more enjoyable when we’re not slaves of time.

  • Second study explored the experiences and motivations of a consumer and producer participants in a Melbourne based Slow Food festival. From interview data, “time” emerged as a key underling theme in people’s interest in Slow Food as a form of virtuous consumption, but also a key challenge in terms of adopting a Slow Food lifestyle.

As one participant said:

I think that is why everybody is in a hurry because they don’t actually value that that’s the important thing to stop and do.

Another participant put the time challenge this way:

I’m still part of the rush of modern life but… I would want to eventually live that way. I just have to figure out how to do it… it’s a time issue. It’s a matter of changing my life to go into that time mode.

The article hypothesises that some people aren’t taking to the Slow Food lifestyle as rapidly as others as, even though participants may hold ethical consumer values, they just weren’t necessarily prepared to change their behaviour. The articles main message is to inform the reader of the origins of their food, including the implications of food production on personal health and the wider environment. Thus, in doing so, fostering the environment for physical change.


20/ April 2015

The Slow Food Movement’s Promise of Pleasure

Catherine Ashley undergraduate student UC Berkeley

Ashely’s article on Slow Food delves into the history of the movement and its relevance today as “capitalism’s incessant, impatient, increasing push towards progress and growth leaves little room for adequate focus on creating authentic food”. The article expresses the symbolism of the Movements icon: the Snail. A beacon of simplicity—calling to mind not only pleasurable respite from hard work, but also the incompatibility of juxtaposing a slow, simple outdoor creature with a hurried working-class world. The observed message of this article is justifying why the movement hasn’t gained a larger following. However, it does explain the rhetoric pleasure holding merit for many people today who are so deeply involved in work, and often left with little time to appreciate the pleasures of our world… “A little self-indulgence certainly won’t hurt.”

This article, from a detached observational view, felt hard to follow as the argument for the Slow Food lifestyle was counter-posed by the justification of modern life, it didn’t flow as well as it could have. However, it does argue many points on the Slow Food lifestyles that are closely related to the core values of the movement. In doing so, this article can, when digested correctly, provide adequate information into the movement’s presence in current day life.


And lastly, what does this movement mean to me?

It is space held for community to unite over growth, abundance, and health. Throughout my time researching the movement I was constantly eating, cooking, and preserving abundance back at home in South Australia. Below are a few shots of a fig and pistachio chutney. Organic produce sourced from The Food Forest, Gawler, South Australia.

Second Figs ready for processing
Second Figs ready for processing
Concoction on the boil
Concoction on the boil
Bottled and Jarred
Bottled and Jarred



Leave a Reply