My love for good, fresh food began while I was attending high school in Estes Park, CO. Our school embedded a strong belief that in order to learn and be successful, we must nourish ourselves daily with nutrient rich, unprocessed foods. Most teenagers seem to be comfortable living off ramen and assorted snack foods, so in order to invoke a passion for exploring new foods, the staff required all students to participate in the preparation and cooking of our own food, while providing a welcoming, communal eating environment. Meal times became a central place for creative collaboration and in depth discussions. Through this experience, I developed a belief that cooking and eating should not be rushed, because when we take the time to enjoy our food and community, a real beautiful thing happens: we connect.
The modern world we live in today is chock full of messages encouraging us to join the ‘rat race’ of society. We have automatic coffee makers set to brew at 6am, schedules that keep us running from sunrise to sunset, and less & less time to actually spend with our families. I truly believe that even though the world around us is moving at an alarming rate, we as individuals do not have to. We need to slow down and not depend so heavily on the systems that seek to make life easier, if they compromise our connections to food, people and the health of the planet.
History of Slow Food:
Carlo Petrini, a culinary expert and journalist in Italy, shares a similar belief. He became known for leading a group of activists in a 1986 demonstration against the opening of a McDonald’s location near the Piazza de Spagna in Rome. Armed with bowls of penne pasta, the people chanted, “We don’t want fast food…We want slow food!” The demonstration was a counter action to the ongoing globalization of fast food and fast paced lifestyles.
In the following years, Petrini developed a non-profit organization in Italy called Slow Food, with the philosophy that food should be good, clean and fair for all. A few years later, the Slow Food international movement began in Paris with the first Slow Food Manifesto signed. It wasn’t until 2000 that the USA branch was created, and today there is a local chapter in nearly every state! Currently there are over 1,500 local chapters in over 160 countries.
One of the most impactful projects developed by the Slow Food movement is Terra Madre, an initiative to protect and support small-scale producers and food artisans from around the globe. Every two years, the food communities of Terra Madre networks meet for a festive and educational time in Turin, Italy. Regional meeting are also held in numerous countries, such as Ireland, Tanzania, Brazil, South Korea and Japan. Together, Slow Food and Terra Madre have helped to raise awareness about issues pertaining to agricultural processes, production methods, the preservation of traditional food and cultural practices, and have supported countless livelihoods in doing so. In learning more about this inspiring movement, I was curious to discover if and how New Mexico has been involved with Slow Food.
Slow Food New Mexico:
Currently, there are two active chapters within the state: one in Santa Fe and the other in Albuquerque. The Santa Fe chapter was founded in the year 2000 by American chef Deborah Madison who has been part of the food movement as a chef, writer, farmers’ market manager and cook. She has won multiple James Beard Awards for her writings, including her landmark cookbook ‘Vegetarian cooking for everyone’, and was the owner and founder of the restaurant, Casa Escalera in Santa Fe.
In an email conversation with Deborah, she stated that the first event they hosted was the most fun. At the time, Slow Food was new to many people, so the organizers asked that people bring anything that meant ‘Slow Food’ to them. Deborah said all sorts of things showed up, like a bottle of Guenon from the 1980’s, sweet potatoes cooked for days in an outdoor slow cooker, and mushrooms someone had picked and dried. Everyone spoke about why they chose their particular dish to share. Deborah is no longer part of the organizing board for the chapter.
The Santa Fe chapter is still active with numerous events promoting local food entrepreneurs. Members can discover the joys of locally made cheeses, chocolates, wines & spirits, and other foods from the region. The group also has a monthly book club with a long list of books of various topics, all having to do with food. The monthly dinner is a time when members can come together to share a homecooked dish and discuss the topics of the current book they are reading. Current chapter organizers are Ellen Lampert, Ardis Burst and Nina Rosenburg.
Slow Food ABQ:
The Albuquerque chapter has gone through changes since its founding in October of 2013, yet still seeks to provide events and opportunities for members to explore local foods and culture around the city. Currently, Grit Ramuschkat and Katja Lauterstein are organizing events for the chapter, and the most recent event was a coffee tasting at local coffee roaster, Red Rock Roasters. The event included a tour of the roasting facility, a discussion about coffee production and sources, and a wonderful and informative tasting of three different varieties.
If you’d like to get involved with either chapter and learn more about their upcoming events, email or visit their Facebook page:
-Posted by Amy