Friday, September 5, 2008

Slow Food Nation in Retrospect

I attended Slow Food Nation in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend and am still processing the experience. I belong to Slow Food but have had a love-hate relationship with it all along. Love its great intentions but strongly dislike (perhaps hate is too strong a word) the self-importance I perceive in of much of its hierarchy.

My impressions from the weekend? There's more to love than to hate, as there typically is with most things in life. I was glad to find such an array of people interested in the work of Slow Food--not just food professionals and not just the wealthy. I was surrounded by everyday people who appreciate good food and who realize that you won't find it in a fast food restaurant or in the local mega-grocery with its canyons of processed, oversalted, oversugared, partially-hydrogenated, artificially colored and high-fructose-corn-syrup-injected body rotting tastelessness. (But tell me, Carol, how do you REALLY feel?)

We talked about and explored good food, from how to grow it, make it, prepare it and enjoy it, to how to teach kids about it, push for legislation to ensure it and make it available to everyone.

I met some really inspiring people. Among them: a young man who works as an engineer but who enjoys curing meats in his free time. He makes his own pancetta, bacon and the like, in his tiny apartment. He says they taste vastly better than what the grocery offers and cost a fraction of what the grocery charges. And I met a woman who tired of a career in information technology, so she's opening a gourmet store in a rather smallish town in the Midwest. I found similar stories again and again.

It amazes me how many professionals decide at some point to ditch their careers and plunge into some aspect of food. Perhaps it's more than the desire to eat something tasty and healthy. Perhaps they crave the social aspects of it and the goodwill you generate when you share good food with others. I don't know. But I DO know that that works for me.
Slow Food Nation's Taste Pavilion, along with workshops and author readings, took place at Fort Mason on San Francisco Bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

In the end, I appreciate that Slow Food provides an outlet for learning about and sharing responsibly produced food. Decent food shouldn't be exclusive or out of reach for anyone. And insofar as Slow Food is able to chip away at the problems in providing an adequate, safe, nutritional food supply for all, I'm on board.

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