Savor the Slow

Posted on October 18, 2008 – 8:41 PM | by Rachel
  • Share

“Is that a Slow Food book? That’s so trendy right now,” the sales clerk at a local book store scoffed when asked about Carlos Petrini’s The Case for Taste. Yes, it is a Slow Food book. It’s one of the many books on the market offering guidance and insight to people hoping to connect their dinner to the person who produced it. And it is trendy right now.

David TricheThe Slow Food story is a well-documented one, starting with a protest and some penne in Italy. Along with it came a rejection of homogenized foodstuffs AKA ‘fast food.‘ Individuals around the globe took inspiration from that first protest and started gathering together to build a better understanding of the relationships between food, the grower, the region and the result. These individuals rejected the exclusive nature of the epicurean communities that came before them. They wanted to build a network that was inclusive to all people looking to preserve their culinary heritage-showing reverence for everything from collard greens to curries.
The local incarnation of the international organization, or convivium as it is referred to, Slow Food Sacramento, hosts bi-monthly events celebrating regional flavors and educating its members. In September they met in an orchard for an event hosted by a valley pear grower and nibbled on treats prepared by Kira O’Donnell, the local convivium founder and proprietor of the now defunct Real Pie Company. The Sacto convivium has also held an heirloom tomato tasting, sipped on locally produced Port, savored Ginger Elizabeth chocolates and so on… The big event for many ‘Slow’ enthusiasts came in August when San Francisco hosted the enormously successful Slow Food Nation, an event intended to nurture a movement that hopes to create a food system that is, ‘just, sustainable and delicious.‘

While the moniker “Slow Food” has gained a lot attention for its adherents, the effort to create a more responsible and locally sourced food system isn’t exactly new in Sacramento. One obvious example is the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, which has been leading the effort to bring healthful, locally sourced food to the community since the early seventies. In August the SNFC launched a “Buy Local” challenge to encourage shoppers to purchase foods produced within 100 miles of Sacramento. They also added “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” tags to their shelves to help shoppers identify locally produced goods all year long.

The Co-op isn’t the only outlet for ‘fresh.‘ For those who find the Coop cost-prohibitive, the farmers’ markets can be a saving grace. “The farmers’ markets are a great place to acquire food!” says David Triche, Sacramento’s current Slow Food convivium leader. “I can’t think of anything we can’t get here,” says Triche who counts our markets as the best in the country and shops at them at least twice a week. Jason Griest, co-owner of Old Soul Coffee and Roasting Company agrees, “it’s pretty simple for Midtowners to eat locally, all you have to do is care about it.” That doesn’t mean it’s been easy for Old Soul to keep it local. When Griest and Tim Jordan opened their doors they hoped that if they didn’t produce the products they were selling themselves, they’d know the person who did. “That was a pipe dream, but that was the dream,” says Griest, “we’re doing our best.”

Shawn HarrisonOne local organization that has done exceptionally well is Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture Project. In 2000 “two inexperienced organic farmers” set out to help urbanites reconnect with their food and the land it comes from. Since then, Soil Born has grown into a non-profit organization which operates two organic farming sites, farm stands and engages the community in agriculture education. “We came along at the right time,” says co-founder and executive director, Shawn Harrison, “we’re riding this wave of tremendous awareness.” Harrison has seen interest in organic agriculture growing at a steady rate, “there is a consumer population that is interested in produce that is free of pesticides and herbicides.” Like Slow Food, Soil Born hopes to ensure access to fresh and healthful food to all people, regardless of socio-economic status. They are making that happen through their various Food Access programs, including farm stands at two Head Start facilities and a partnership with a local school district to help bring seasonal veggies into schools.

According to Harrison, Soil Born has made such a significant impact in a short time by, “speaking to something that addresses some real issues.” The same could be said for Slow Food.  As people continue to connect the quality of their food to the quality of their lives, there is a growing rejection of our fast food culture, and organizations like Slow Food and Soil Born are poised fill the void.

Post a Comment