The Slow Food movement has been active for over two decades across the globe, yet it’s still sometimes a bit of a grey area for even the most ardent foodie! In our effort to explore every aspect of Scotland’s fantastic food and drink industry, we caught up with Caroline Rye, Chair of Slow Food Edinburgh to find out more about the movement, and its work globally and Slow Food in Scotland. Caroline is one of the delegates representing Scotland at the biennial Slow Food event Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Italy later this year.
Leave thoughts of the slow cooker and that shin of beef cooked for 12 hours at 70 degrees for now, Slow Food is not about slow cooking. It’s a common misconception about a movement which celebrates 25 years this year. Rather, Slow Food is a philosophy, a way of life and about taking time to celebrate the pleasure of good, clean and fair food.
Established in Italy by Carlo Petrini in 1989, what began as a reaction against fast food is now a global movement. Spanning over 150 countries and thousands of members, it campaigns for food that’s good for consumers, producers and the planet.
Slow Food’s Foundation for Biodiversity works to ensure indigenous foods, culture and knowledge are protected. Its University of Gastronomic Sciences educates aspiring gastronomes, while the Terra Madre network brings together producers working for a better food system.
However it’s at a grass roots level that Slow Food is uniquely placed to bring about change. Local membership groups, or ‘convivia’ (as in ‘conviviality’) are key to spreading the word, championing local producers and encouraging people to take pleasure in good food. These are found around the world, from Calgary to Cologne, Melbourne to Mexico, but all share the same Slow Food ethos.
The Edinburgh convivium is the largest in the UK outside London, running events including dinners, a farmers’ market stall and film nights. West Scotland works closely with the Ayrshire Food Network, and is making inroads to grow the movement in Glasgow. Slow Food Berwick focuses on its annual Food Festival to showcase the best in local food and drink. All are run by volunteers and are always looking for more people to join.
2014 saw the creation of Slow Food Scotland, England and Wales/Cymru, to help grow the movement across the UK. These organisations will campaign on issues at a local level, helping to increase membership and give Slow Food a stronger voice. The connection between food, people and place is central to Slow Food’s philosophy – focusing on foods integral to that culture and keeping them alive in the face of globalisation.
The Ark of Taste is one of the ways Slow Food helps to protect regional foods at risk of being lost forever. In Scotland, this catalogue of ‘forgotten foods’ includes Shetland Black Potatoes, Red Grouse, Beremeal flour, and Musselburgh Leeks. The latest addition, Dulse, is a wild seaweed rich in vitamins and minerals found around the Scottish coast.
Slow Food Scotland will be holding a celebration of all things good, clean, fair and Scottish with ‘Terra Madre Scotland’ held at Cawdor Castle in September. This event, which will showcase several Ark of Taste products, includes a dinner, seminars and discussion and marks a further stage in the development of Slow Food in Scotland.
It’s also a precursor to Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto, the biennial Slow Food event held in Turin in October. Slow Food Scotland representatives will join producers, chefs, and thousands from across the globe for the five day event. The world’s biggest celebration of food diversity, Slow Food Scotland delegates will be proudly sharing Scotland’s culinary heritage on the world stage.