In 1989, Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food movement to counter the opening of McDonalds in Piazza Spagna in Rome and the general rise of fast food in the world. The organization seeks to prevent large, multinational chains from detracting from small businesses and local agriculture. Since 1900, up to 75% of European food product diversity has been lost and over 90% of American food product diversity has been lost during the same period. One study has shown that one vegetable variety is lost every six hours.
Just this past week, Turin was host to the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, a biennial international fair that focused on raising awareness to the Slow Food movement. The Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre is a venue where food communities from around the globe join together to provide a sense of hope and enthusiasm for the future of food and farming. This year, the event attracted over 220,000 people over the course of five days. Over sixty percent of the tickets were sold to visitors from outside Italy. Organizers saw that this was proof that despite the poor economy, the vision of Petrini is still real and strong.
The event centered on a series of conferences that looked to foster debate and ideas relating to sustainable production and consumption. In addition to the more formal debates, there were a number of events that were geared towards children. In addition to the workshops, vendors, and conferences, this weekend also featured the International Congress of Slow Food. 650 delegates from 90 countries met to determine the future of the movement. While the direction of the movement is uncertain, the future is strong and interest is certainly ever-present.