What is the Slow Food Movement? And Why You Should Want it!

North Cafe in Chiang yogurt and fruit

I hadn’t planned on visiting Ireland until about 10-minutes before booking my flight. One of my best friends was studying at Ballymaloe Cookery School. She sounded so excited about the island’s scenery and the slow food movement that was occurring there. I didn’t know much about slow food or Ireland, but as usual, I was curious.

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stew-slow-food-1024x683 What is the Slow Food Movement? And Why You Should Want it!
  1. What is the slow food movement?
  2. Why Ireland?
  3. Ballymaloe Cookery School
  4. Why the Slow Food Movement is important?
  5. Elitist?

The Slow Food Movement

What is it?

One of my fondest memories is baking bread with my grandma. She made it from scratch every Sunday morning. I can still smell the warm, doughy goodness decades later. I was just a kid, but I knew I was witnessing something special. And now we have lost that amazing recipe forever because no one practiced it or even wrote it down.

Slow Food is literally the opposite of fast food. The movement started in 1986 when someone tried to open a Mcdonald’s franchise in Rome. Some protestors chanted, “We don’t want fast food; we want slow food.” Catchy, right? Now it’s promoted as an alternative to massed-produced food. It strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages the farming of plants, seeds, and livestock that are characteristic of the local ecosystem.

Ireland? Why not France or Italy?

Ballymaloe Cookery School is an organic farm, garden, and school in country Cork Ireland. And if I’m honest. I was quite surprised that this was the place Carolyn had decided to study. Like most people, I thought the best culinary schools were in France or Italy.

She kept saying I was going to be surprised because the food is amazing. Turns out, Ireland has a profound foodie movement going on that had me licking the plate everywhere I went. Who knew Ireland was the place to go for good food?

Ballymaloe Cookery School

We didn’t spend much time on the school grounds. I’ll let her tell you all about that. Carolyn led us on a kitchen and garden tour where we met a few animals and tasted a few leafy vegetables. Carolyn had definitely been affected by the cooking experience. And so were the local restaurants that embraced the slow food cooking style.

Many of the restaurants had their own farms and gardens on-site to guarantee freshness and availability. But what is slow food?

Why You Should Care

Slow food came out of the desire to embrace the local foods, traditions, and biodiversity—no matter where you live. Now menus are developed according to the seasons which means they are constantly changing according to what’s available in your region.

This, in turn, cuts out long haul trucking and ensures the product is not picked before it’s ripe or ready. So it tastes fresher and you get all the nutrients nature intended.

In addition, it eliminates transportation costs and their associated environmental pollution. Which means it can be pesticide and chemical-free. It’s a win-win relationship where no one feels exploited. Buyers are encouraged to get to know and support the local farmers, cheesemakers, and winemakers so they can best utilize their products. And farmers know that what they produce will be bought for a fair price.

Is this an Elitist Movement

I’ve heard people say the slow food movement is yet another excess. In the US, most people understand labeling something organic jacks up the price. And while some are willing to pay for food that is good for the soul as well as fuel for the body. Others aren’t. And they dismiss the movement as unnecessary. They accurately point out that third world countries still cook using traditional and locally sourced products.

And while this is true, food shouldn’t taste the same everywhere you go. I’ve never traveled to eat at a McDonald’s or Burger King. I have eaten at both all around the world and generally, it all tastes the same. I think we all need to re-prioritize our feelings and relationship to food.

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  1. Stacey Peters

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