For the non-profit organization Slow Food, food is considered a “means to life.” aware_ takes a look at how the association is raising awareness, making itself a pioneer in the food sector
Over the course of our lives, we eat about 100,000 meals. Today’s mostly industrially produced foods are mass products with a high degree of mechanization and automation – often based on raw materials that are produced in a wide variety of places and processed entirely elsewhere. Additives and auxiliary substances save time and costs, regulate and stabilize structure, taste, color as well as production processes and shelf life. However, these substances can be harmful to health, especially in larger quantities. Skilled craftsmanship and individual consumer needs fall by the wayside in these highly labor-intensive processes. But shouldn’t food be nutritious and healthy? The way we eat and what we eat with has an impact on our enjoyment and health, but also on agriculture, the climate, the economy, politics, the environment, cultural landscapes and, last but not least, our identity (utopia; Slow Food).
The non-profit organization Slow Food supports small and medium-sized producers as well as food artisans who maintain traditional cultivation and processing methods and who are knowledgeable about chemical, physical, biological and technological relationships and processes, enabling them to respond flexibly to the conditions of nature and its raw materials. The result: higher-quality, healthier meals. But the Slow Food movement is not just about chewing every bite thoroughly: Rather, it sees itself as conscious enjoyment and consumption, the preservation of sustainable, resource-conserving and environmentally compatible food production, and a vibrant and sustainable food culture. This food culture should be accessible to all in order to curb blind consumption and create awareness of the products that end up on our plates (TK; utopia; Slow Food).
The Slow Food movement was launched in 1986 by journalist and sociologist Carlo Petrini in the northern Italian town of Bra to preserve local food culture. The international association, which today includes millions of people worldwide, has been in existence since 1989 and includes activists of all ages, chefs, farmers, fishermen, lay people and experts, scientists and researchers from more than 170 countries. National associations exist in Germany, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea, Kenya and the USA.
With practice-oriented educational work, Slow Food anchors nutritional competence and advocates a socially and ecologically responsible as well as sustainable food system that protects biocultural diversity and animal welfare.
Slow Food Deutschland e. V., based in Berlin, was the first national association outside Italy to be founded in 1992. In the meantime, the association has also gained relevance in politics: The aim is to convince political decision-makers to recognize nutrition as a cross-departmental field of action and to take a decidedly holistic view of nutrition policy, establishing and promoting regional structures. Slow Food Deutschland e. V. has over 85 local groups and is involved in various networks: in peasant agriculture, artisanal fishing and food production in harmony with ecosystems, animal welfare, the revitalization of rural areas and cultural traditions. The association is committed to the preservation of regional biodiversity and diversity of varieties, to fair remuneration for producers who work sustainably, and to the appreciation and enjoyment of food. Slow Food provides nutrition and taste education for children, young people and adults, as well as training programs for young professionals in the food service, agriculture and food industries. In addition, the organization brings producers, traders and consumers into contact with each other, conveys knowledge about food quality and thus makes the food market transparent (Slow Food a; Slow Food b).
By carrying out various educational projects, campaigns and events, Slow Food puts food literacy in Germany on a secure footing and cooperates with other organizations and stakeholders to this end. These projects combine in-depth knowledge and understanding with hands-on, sensory grasping and tasting: Knowledge is made accessible in a way that is generally understandable and suitable for everyday use, and positive alternatives are raised so that individuals can base their actions on them. Under the guidance of experts, participants taste and compare foods of different origins, preparation methods or degrees of ripeness. Participants are taken back to the origins of staple foods such as bread, milk or honey and learn where these foods come from, what they look like before processing, what they taste like before their often long transport routes and why good food takes time. As with aware_, it succeeds, without a raised forefinger, that the youngsters develop an understanding for food quality, a more respectful treatment of nature and more appreciation for meals that have been prepared themselves from fresh and nutritious ingredients (Slow Food a; Slow Food b).
Slow Food Chef Alliance
The Slow Food Chef Alliance is a growing, dynamic network of over 30 members from ten German states with a mission to restore and preserve the connection to food, to take responsibility for the enjoyment of their guests and for the cultural and natural landscapes: They use seasonal ingredients as well as old varieties purchased from small producers in their region, avoid industrially processed products and additives, work with as little packaging as possible, and avoid food waste by processing all parts of animals and plants and creatively designing their menus accordingly (Slow Food).
Whether supply chain or food value chain, the overarching goal should always be to open pathways for (food) production within planetary boundaries through public discussions with stakeholders along the way. Slow Food is a pioneer in this regard in the food sector. Learn more about the association and its contents here.
by Marie Klimczak