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"Slow Food"??? What on earth is that?

by Sam Pearson posted on Nov 05, 2007 08:38 PM last modified Mar 20, 2012 10:08 AM

I get it, slow food is the opposite of fast food, but really, if there's an international organization devoted to it, what does it really mean and how does it relate to local-everything?

A small but growing group is looking to start up a local Slow Food convivium in the Lewisburg/Selinsgrove/Williamsport area. Slow Food, a non-profit educational organization, works to support and celebrate food traditions, both local and from around the world. Slow Food's goal is to build food systems that are, in essence, "good, clean and fair," by emphasizing principles such as supporting food of high quality and taste, striving for environmental sustainability, and promoting social justice.

Slow Food's mission, in promoting a sustainable food system, focuses on the kitchen and the table, on the social aspects of food and eating. Think of it as a personal approach, centered on friendly, social gatherings, using the appeal of food, carefully prepared and thoughtfully enjoyed, to help us to better consider the impact of our food choices and the value of our food traditions. This isn't limited to concerns over the state of our agricultural system today, but also encompasses efforts to support food crafts and traditions, such as microbreweries and farmhouse cheeses, and work to protect the biodiversity on our farms and in our wild places. Food, after all, isn't simply nutrition, but serves as a means for social and cultural connection.

As an organization, Slow Food operates on several levels, from the large Slow Food International and Slow Food USA to local chapters, called "convivia." Each convivium works to develop its own activities, to put the energy and efforts of its members into the areas they find most interesting, most important, most educational. Events can range from visits to local farms, to food and beverage tastings, to cooking classes, to potluck dinners, to working with groups like PASA or local schools to make a difference for everyone's benefit. You can be as involved as you choose to be.

Above all, we strive to be inclusive. Food is a common thread that connects all of us. We each have traditions of place, and of family, that provide us with a sense of context. Whether a lifelong resident of central Pennsylvania, or a transplant from around the country or the world, everyone has something to offer the rest of us. Our family food traditions and all valid, worth keeping, exploring, and sharing with others.

For those who may be interested in joining, please visit for more information, or feel free to send me an email at

Currently, the hope is to bring a group together for a kickoff meeting in mid-January 2008; please send an email if you would like more details as the plan develops; I encourage anyone who would like to help organize this initial event to contact me.

Until then, I hope you all enjoy the cooling weather and the opportunity to let the oven warm the house and fill it with the enticing aromas of fall.

Best regards,
Brian Garthwaite


PS  [We asked for more information and this is what Brian offered (should I have put this in as a comment?):]

I think that Slow Food can really be whatever the members want it to be.  There are a few basic kinds of meeting that I'd like to see, though it's not limited just to these:
 - Potluck get-togethers - For more informal meetings, especially early on when the group is just beginning to get organized, or for smaller planning meetings that may not be of interest to the entire convivium. It could be as simple as potluck at someone's house, or as big as a holiday cookie swap for everyone.
 - Producer visits - A combination of tour and tasting, be it at a local farm, winery, brewery, cheesemaker, etc. Personally, this is what I'd like to focus my energies on, because it's of most interest to me.
 - Group dinners - Rather than potluck, have a meal at a restaurant, farm, or even a member's home. This would likely be a chance to spotlight one or several key elements, be it seasonal ingredients, a special cooking style, or something else of specific interest.
 - Cooking classes - Assuming that we could find a good place for it, these would allow one member to teach the rest how to cook or prepare something, whether it be an old family recipe or how to can a garden's worth of tomatoes.
There would be at least one meeting open to the public every year, and we could tie activities into the growers' market whenever possible. With luck, there'll be meetings every month or every other month, with room for an educational presentation or discussion each time.
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