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Thursday, July 15,2010

The fast rise of ‘slow food’

By Katelyn M. Feldhaus

Boulder is all about doing things sustainably, and that includes bringing sustainability to our tables. Slow Food Boulder is a local nonprofit founded in 1989 as part of an international movement against the prominence of fast food.

The goal of the movement, according to Slow Food’s website, is to bring awareness to the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and the social, economic and environmental impact of the food choices they make.

Carol Carlson, chair of Slow Food Boulder, says that this grassroots movement, with more than 100,000 members in 132 countries, is a way of living that is based on a healthy way of eating, linking the enjoyment and satisfaction of food to a commitment to the environment, community and the world.

“Slow Food Boulder’s mission is to celebrate, educate and strengthen awareness of our food: from the farm, to the market, to the kitchen and to the table,” Carlson says. “We promote stewardship of our land, sound food production policies and local, seasonal and organic foods. We support good, clean and fair food for all.”

Critics believe America’s attitude toward food is out of whack and needs to be transformed to create a more sustainable and equitable way of breaking bread.

“We need to nurture ourselves, but not only that, we also need to nurture our environment,” Carlson says. “Many people today are more aware that the earth is in bad shape because of the way we have been utilizing it. We need to change how we grow food, and Slow Food is trying to do this through international education: What is inside the cardboard box that our food comes in?” According to the Slow Food Manifesto for Quality, consumers orient the market and production with their choices, and they assume new roles when they become aware of these processes. Consumption becomes part of the productive act, and the consumer thus becomes a co-producer. Producers are key players in this process, working to achieve quality, making his or her experience available and welcoming the knowledge and know-how of others.

Slow Food supports many organizations to keep the idea of slow food alive and cooking, and to disperse the movement throughout the community. The Growe Foundation in Boulder has aligned with Slow Food by promoting the benefits of healthy and sustainable living using gardens to enrich children’s education.

“We see a local, sustainable, organic food system as a solution,” says Bryce Brown, founder of the Growe Foundation. “Our mission aligns with the general philosophy of Slow Food to encourage people to use local food and give back by way of eating.”

To restore the cultural appreciation for slow food, there are Slow on Campus chapters for college students. People from Slow Food get involved with children in the garden and help with activities. Other organizations Slow Food Boulder supports are the Twin Peaks Charter Academy Garden project, the Cultiva! Youth program run by Growing Gardens, and the community gardens project spearheaded by CU Going Local.

Many people in Boulder already recognize how important it is to ditch the drive-through doggie bag and to make food from scratch, from restaurants to at-home family dinners.

“Even chains such as Chipotle and Noodles & Company are sourcing local foods,” Carlson says. “Noodles had a benefit in which 25 percent of proceeds went to Slow Food Boulder’s school gardens projects. The Kitchen buys goods from organic local farms and donates 20 percent of all food sales from their weekly Community Night Dinner to The School Food Project and Growe Foundation. Hush Denver did a benefit for Slow Food Boulder, and we hosted an event with Arugula Restaurant on how to make a local dinner at the end of the winter in Colorado. These are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.”

The Slow Food campus chapter at CU works to educate students and the CU community about slow food eating as an alternative to massproduced food. Slow Food CU’s blog explains that their goal is not to change people’s dining habits, but to offer another method.

The Ark of Taste program protects foods that are in danger of becoming extinct.

“Various people name foods they want to support,” Carlson says. “In the Rocky Mountain region, we are protecting the Capital Reef Apple, the American Plains Bison, the Emory Oak Bellota Acorns, the Four Corners Gold Bean, and more.”

Slow Food is about enjoying your food and celebrating what the earth is producing for us.

“It is not another gourmet food club,” Carlson says. “It is a place for people with a passion for safeguarding local farms, food traditions and artisan foods to gather and build culture and community. Slow Food is an activist movement that supports food quality that is good for the people who eat it, good for the people who grow it, in the sense of wages, and good for the overall environment.”

Upcoming Slow Food events can be found at slowfoodboulder.com.

Respond:letters@boulderweekly.com

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