The Slow Food Spotlight

Snail on plate

Snail on plate

Slow Food chefs meet at Foxhollow

Slow Food chefs meet at Foxhollow

I joined Slow Food Bluegrass when it formed in 2006 because of its principles of supporting and promoting food that is good, clean, and fair. I have enjoyed the small number of events I have attended. Just as he began forming our Bluegrass convivium (chapter), I met and interviewed the amazing Mark Williams, Executive Chef at Brown-Forman in Louisville. Mark's incredible energy and commitment have brought lots of interesting people and events to Kentucky, as you can see in this calendar of annual events. In the photo below, Mark, right, talks with other chefs who follow Slow Food principles. Credit Mark's communication and persistent efforts with making sure Kentucky had the second largest U.S. delegation to Terra Madre 2008, a massive biennial gathering in Torino, Italy. As noted on its website, "the Terra Madre Network brings together food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production."

Three Kentucky delegates -- Jim Embry (Sustainable Communities Network), Susan Carson Lambert, RE Strateggies LLC, and Bob Perry, UK Food Systems Initiative -- presented short descriptions of their Terra Madre experiences at UK last week. I listened to learn ways Slow Food can make a positive difference in Kentucky.

This weekend I joined several central Kentuckians at a delicious, well attended Slow Food dinner on Foxhollow Farm outside Louisville. Slow Food USA board members and Executive Director Erica Lesser had spent several days meeting and taking delicious "field trips" in Kentucky. The dinner offered a chance to meet these intriguing people from around the country.

I came away with some new thoughts. First, in the world of Slow Food, our food and food culture -- just like those in any other part of the world -- are treasures, and are treated with respect and interest by people from "away." Country ham in particular won lots of new fans at the Foxhollow event.

Second, Slow Food in any part of Kentucky can be what the community makes it. In Lexington, efforts at social justice, community gardening and orchard development, engaging more young people in farming and food production, and education for gardening, cooking, and food preservation all fit squarely within topics at the top of the Slow Food USA board agenda during their meetings in the state.

Third, as a Slow Food USA person explained in an understated way, both nationally and internationally, Slow Food attracts positive media. That cachet can be used strategically to shine a spotlight on all manner of Kentucky initiatives to cultivate and enjoy food that is good, clean and fair. Having Slow Food add energy and expertise to the accelerating sustainability/local economy movement in Kentucky can make a real difference.

Membership information for Slow Food USA and the Bluegrass convivium is available here.

Photo Credit: Achim Prill