Written by: Kimberly Sears
Italy’s first McDonald’s was about to open in Rome, and journalist and gastronomist Carlo Petrini was not going to stand idly by. Petrini assembled his friends and community to protest the global industrialization of food and take a stand for “slow food.”
That was in 1986, and Petrini and his fellow foodies didn’t succeed in keeping McDonald’s out of Italy. But three years later under Petrini’s passionate leadership, Slow Food International was officially founded in Paris and delegates from 15 countries signed the Slow Food Manifesto, pledging to “rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines … by advocating historical food culture and by defending old-fashioned food traditions.”
December 10 marks 25 years since Slow Food International was founded. Since that time, the organization has grown to include over 150,000 members in 150 countries, including national chapters in Italy, Germany, Japan and the United States. Slow Food USA was founded in 2000 and now has more than 175 chapters across the country.
Slow Food’s most significant contribution is the Ark of Taste. Like Noah’s ark, it is a carefully curated collection of plants and animals that are at risk of extinction. Heirloom seeds and heirloom animal breeds are catalogued, and consumers are linked with distributors to ensure that these foods remain in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste is a great boon for gardeners and families who want to help preserve biodiversity, save their own seeds, and produce their own food without relying on big-box food corporations.