Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

A few of us had dinner with Mike Tommasi from Slow Food France. Slow Food (as opposed to fast food) is a semi-political movement originating in a protest against the entry of McDonald's into Italy and formally becoming an organization in Paris. They focus on a variety of gastronomy issues. They care about the impact of industrialization of food on farmers, diversity, cataloging endangered food, teaching children about food, finding produce that can be brought back or preserved and help create new markets and for slow food. They have successfully found a variety of slow foods including cheeses and meats and have brought them back and created markets for them in sympathetic restaurants. They have a magazine, a Slow Food Guide for Italy (Good slow food restaurants for under 30 Euros), and conferences where they invite farmers from around the world to share ideas. They are not against science, but are against science used to destroy food culture. They now have 80,000 members in 100 countries with offices in Switzerland, Germany, the US, France and Italy. Although it was originally founded by people from the Italian Left wing, it is recently more politically neutral. Being a movement originating in Italy, founded in France with an English name makes it unique as well. Their web site has a lot of interesting stuff on it.


Joi, let me recommend the Slow Food Guide for Italy in the most enthusiastic terms, since I follow their suggestions almost religiously and never failed to eat well: even in Venice, where otherwise they rob you or poison you or both (ask David Weinberger).

It is interesting to see that Slow Food is trying to reverse/affect the process of 'creative destruction' in the culinary world.
It is a romantic and refreshing agenda, despite its patent/agricultural world trade lobbyist alterego.

Educating the masses about food in general seems to be a reasonable agenda. Protecting "food culture" from the "evils of science" (if that is in fact what Slow Food is about) is a bit wacky if you ask me. My advice to Slow Food is educate and let the people decide.

Plus, I will enjoy traveling in France and Italy more if I can stop in at McDonalds for an occasional burger!

I don't think it's educating people about the evils of science, but to protect diversity and culture. The problem is that some industrial tactics and aspects of globalization destroy this diversity.

Shane, lucky you, at least you need no guide to find the next McDonald, you can smell it from afar ;-)

There are serious problems with the 'slow food' movement. Like fast food, it has an ugly head too. If you eat loads of fine meat, cheese and foie gras you will get just as fat and sick as the guy in that movie. And they told you about slow food afficienado President Mitterand's last meal, didn't they? Let's all have a little balance folks.

I have found that the investment of time and trouble involved in preparing fresh and healthy food is always worth making. Thanks for sharing the link.

We had a really excellent meal last night and the chef last night was against some of the Slow Food stuff. He said that in some cases it had become a sort of a hobby for wealthy people to make special produce without really focusing on the market. (Or at least I think this is what he said.) He also said he didn't want any Michelin stars because he wanted to continue to have fun as chef rather than get involved in all of the posturing and marketing that is involved in the scene. Interestingly, the service last night was refreshingly wonderful. At least until we had to try to find a cab after dinner...

Speaking of Slow Food, there is an interesting website called Slowread (found via Venturepreneur blog) for India entrepreneurial opportunities. Venturepreneur has it right, the Slowread site got tons of material, so "Slowread" is a good name.

Random visitor

Let's not forget:
Alice Waters is an international guv'ner of Slow Food. Being a former Berkeley Kiddie I must point out that she and friends epitomized the organic food movement through Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, dedicated to bring about social change.

And Alice still gets involved with the social aspects of food:

Let's hope SlowFood stays on track in this way as well. It never was meant to become a club of smug middle class over eaters.

Gisela Strauss
Having Cake in Munich

I have been an enthusiastic foodlover for some years, and when I fell over the Slow Food movement for about two years, I just felt like "YES, that is what I am doing every day!"

Nice to know some other people like spending time on cooking, reading about food, shopping for quality, too. And eating it together with good friends.

Its all about priority... "Do not have time", as so many say, is a bad excuse.

eating homecooked porridge with dried mango, sesme seeds, batter, salt, cinnamon.

Ulla, Copenhagen