Those are the words of Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food. This organization aims to reduce the amount of food that is imported into countries all over the world, while supporting local farms, chefs and other small scale producers. It is a movement that seeks to encourage persons to “eat local.” Slow Food defines the quality of fresh, and wholesome, food by these three principles:
GOOD – A fresh, flavourful, seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is an aspect of the local culture.
CLEAN – food that is produced in harmony with the environment and human health; i.e. food production and consumption that does not cause harm to the environment, animal welfare or to human health.
FAIR – food that is affordable and thus easily accessible for all consumers, as well as conditions and pay that are fair for small scale producers.
This initiative was founded in 1989 in an attempt to curtail the decreasing prominence of local food traditions, individuals’ lack of interest in the origins of the food they eat and the general impact of food choices on the wider global environment. Additionally, it was a movement designed to counteract fast food and fast life.
The Slow Food association consists of over 100,000 members from over 150 countries grouped into local chapters who work together to revive their local culinary culture. These local chapters (also known as The Convivia) organize events and activities within their respective counties to push the Slow Food movement.
The Barbados Chapter was founded in September 2012 (making the island the 161st nation to sign on to the Slow Food Movement) through a partnership with the local Organic Growers and Consumers Association. The movement was formed in Barbados out of a concern of the increased regularity of food imports, a passion for good quality food and a need to reconnect farmers with the community. It was acknowledged that buying locally helps to support the local economy, while subsequently reducing Barbados’ food import bill by approximately $500 million per year. By doing this, the demand and use of local food would increase, and this increase in demand would also subsequently decrease the cost of local food. Additionally, this can lead to increased food security in Barbados, as it is estimated that if importation of food had to be unexpectedly curtailed, Barbados would have about 10 days’ worth of food to live on. This telling piece of information highlights our overdependence on imported food.
The aim of the Barbados chapter is to reconnect persons in the island with the key aspects in food production: the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters. The organization also aims to protect the rich heritage, traditions and culture that food makes possible. A key initiative of the Chapter is to revive youths’ interest in food, while providing them with the knowledge about where the food they eat comes from. In addition to this, the movement in Barbados seeks to acknowledge and celebrate local farmers, chefs, eateries and artisans who make significant contributions to good, clean and fair food.
Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy local food that is good, clean and fair. – Slow Food Barbados
A key goal for Slow Food Barbados is to preserve and rekindle local traditional food culture in Barbados and to encourage the availability and enjoyment of healthy traditional foods in Barbados. The organization acknowledges that despite the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease across the island, these diseases are preventable if Barbadians change their diet and eat more locally and organically produced foods. Other goals of the movement include educating individuals about food, protecting the environment through creation of gardens and their seed programme and connecting chefs and farmers to each other and the wider community. These goals are achieved through several of Slow Food Barbados initiatives:
Slow Fish – the official Slow Food campaign for sustainable fisheries, aiming to promote sustainable fishing methods.
Educational Gardens – Slow Food works with 12 schools throughout the year to train students, teachers and a created garden committee on how to grow good, clean and fair food and help them create their own gardens.
Chef Alliance – seeks to promote locally based chefs to actively champion small scale producers and promote good quality, local and sustainably produced food.
Slow Cinema – monthly movie night that aims to enhance to knowledge of the environment, food system and production methods in Barbados.
Farm to Table – a dining experience featuring chefs and restaurants that share the core principles and values of Slow Food Barbados. The meals feature the best of locally harvested food.
Farm to Chef – a traditional outdoor marketplace that seeks to connect locals and visitors with farmers and chefs.
The Snail of Approval – Slow Food Barbados’ way of recognising the producers, co-producers and donors that make significant contributions to the transformation of the national food system of Barbados.
Terra Madre – Slow Food Intentional Day (December 10th) seeks to bring awareness to the local network of food communities who seek to promote a new food culture consistent with the aims of Slow Food Barbados.
For more information, contact Slow Food Barbados at info@SlowFoodBarbados.org.
The Slow Food Organization had its genesis in 1986 when there was a demonstration by concerned citizens against the proposed siting of a restaurant by McDonald’s, the fast food giant, in an Italian city.
The movement has grown, by leaps and bounds, to a point where it now maintains a presence in 160 countries and boasts a membership of more than one million.
One of the objectives of the “grassroots” organization is to promote healthy living conditions in a world where fast food, and a carefree approach to nutrition, has, for a long time, been the norm.
With a mantra like “change the menu, change the world,” the Slow Food operatives hope to round up bevies of chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, environmentalists and health care workers to rid the world of all unhealthy and unaffordable aspects of food production. They hope to create an environment which is free of pesticides, herbicides and other harmful substances, and is “good, clean and fair.”
“Slow Food envisions a world in which all the world’s people can access, and enjoy, food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.”
The Barbados chapter, or “convivium,” of the Slow Food Organization, aims not only to, significantly, reduce the enormous food import bill, but the incidence of heart disease, and diabetes, on the island.
Slow Food Barbados can be contacted at email@example.com
Ian McNeel of 2 Kyro, Rockley Terrace, Christ Church, is the President of the local chapter.