Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August: Success!

The Slow Food Movement is now almost 25 years old. It was founded in Italy back in 1986 when MacDonald’s was planning to open an outlet near the historic and beautiful Spanish Steps in Rome. From the beginning it was a reaction against everything that “fast food” represents: unhealthy food from unknown sources, unhealthily prepared, and eaten in plastic, uncomfortable environments. With this as its guiding principle, the movement has developed many goals and objectives over the years, including
• Encouraging local and traditional food products, along with the culinary traditions and recipes that accompany them
• Encouraging family farms and small-scale production and processing while educating consumers about the dangers of monoculture, agribusiness, and factory farms
• Preserving traditional and heirloom varieties through seed banks
• Promoting organic, sustainable, and holistic farming
• Encouraging consumers to shop at local markets and to buy ethically
• Encouraging people to eat in convivial, comfortable surroundings with friends and family… while warning of the dangers of a “fast food” lifestyle.

In this column for the past couple of years, I have tried to bring some of these principles and goals to Pelham readers at the local level, reflecting the philosophy of the local chapter or “convivium” of the Slow Food Movement. Slow Food Pelham is a very active and enthusiastic group of folks (not all of them from Pelham) who love food, value wholesome food products, honour local growers and producers, and enjoy sharing the bounty of Niagara with like-minded enthusiasts. Our activities range from the annual Featherstone Lamb Roast (coming up soon) to buying food-related books for the Pelham Library, from convivial meals featuring local produce at Pelham restaurants, to educational tours of growers, producers, wineries, and facilities.
Now comes proof that our efforts to promote the ideals of Slow Food have succeeded!

Brandspark, a Canadian market and brand strategy outfit, went out and surveyed some 400 chefs from across the country to find out what they see as the current trends in Canadian eating habits. The results, as posted in The Toronto Star, reveal that the top ten current Canadian menu trends are
1. Locally sourced food
2. Sustainability
3. Organic products
4. Artisanal cheeses
5. Simplicity/back to basics
6. Nutritional/healthy cuisine
7. Free range poultry and pork
8. Small plates/tapas/dim sum
9. Bite size mini desserts
10. Exotic super-fruits (such as acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

Of course, I can’t say that this column (and accompanying blog: www.pelhamslowfood.blogspot.com ) has been entirely responsible for the amazing shift that has taken place in the eating preferences and attitudes of Canadians over the past couple of years… but the first seven out of ten menu trends are recurring and constant themes of SnailSpace!

To learn more about the Slow Food Movement, go to www.slowfood.com and for information about the many Canadian chapters, see www.slowfood.ca , and while you’re there, check out Slow Food Pelham’s space, which includes upcoming events, news, recipes, and reports on past events. If you’d like to join Slow Food Pelham or get more information about our activities, write to Renée Girard at prima_renee@hotmail.com

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