Alice Waters on Slow Food

From Slow Food Nation, by Carlo Petrini. (Foreword by Alice Waters).

“Carlo Petrini is the founder of the Slow Food movement and an astonishing visionary. Unlike me, he grew up in a part of the world with a deeply traditional way of eating and living, where he learned an abiding love for the simple, life-affirming pleasures of the table. When he saw this way of eating in Italy start to dissapear, he decided to do something about it. Slow Food began as an ad hoc protest against fast-food restaurants in Rome, but it has grown into an international movement built on the principles he sets forth in these pages.

Most Americans are put off by the word gastronomy; it evokes either gastroenterology or, at best, gourmet pretention. But Carlo heroically appropriates and redefines the word. By gastronomy he wants us to understand a new science, which he defines as the study of our food and all the natural and manmade systems that produce it. It is therefore nothing less than the study of our place on earth and our survival as a species. It is a science far more comprehensive than any of the traditional social sciences. Indeed, because gastronomy relates to the study of every subject taught in school, it can organize and enliven the curriculum as no other subject can. And if economics is the dismal science, gastronomy is certainly the cheerful one – because of its assertion of a universal right to pleasure.

The vision that [Carlo] sets forth in these pages is of the planet as shared by all its inhabitants. The lifeline with which Carlo would bring us aboard is woven from three conceptual strands. He argues that, at every level, our food supply must meet the three criteria of quality, purity and justice. Our food must be buono, pulito, e giusto – words that resonate with more solemnity in Italian than do their literal English counterparts. Our food should be good, and tasty to eat; it should be clean, produced in ways that are humane and environmentally sound; and the system by which our food is provided must be economically and socially fair to all who labor in it. Carlo’s great insight is that when we seek out food that meets these criteria, we are no longer mere consumers but co-producers, who are bearing our fair share of the costs of producing good food and creating responsible communities.”

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