“The organization reconnects with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils, and waters that produce our nation’s food.”
~ Slow Food mission statement
The 1960’s housewife was encouraged to switch to canned vegetables, boxed cakes and paper plates in order to have more quality time with her family. Later, microwave ovens made the three-minute cup-of-noodles an office cubicle and dorm room staple. Slow Food USA would like us to rediscover our roots, along with our fruits and grains and sustainable animal products.
Slow Food is an activist and educational organization with chapters across the United States and abroad. The movement actually began as a reaction to a McDonald’s opening in Rome, Italy, when founding members decided that food was becoming too industrialized to recognize, and that people were losing the cultural relationships that came with preparing and sharing food.
In the U.S., even in foodie circles, Slow Food has sometimes suffered a reputation as an elitist, “white tablecloth” group, made up of wealthy esoterics who debated the fine distinctions of French brie and exotic mushrooms over glasses of vintage Bordeaux. In fact, Slow Food members are grounded in, well, ground. Their mission statement reads, “The organization reconnects with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils, and waters that produce our nation’s food.”
The website is chock-full of news covering events and happenings in the world of organic farming, sustainable livestock, Community-Sponsored Agriculture, agricultural fair-trade, and educational opportunities. Slow Food High Desert sponsors events designed to bring public awareness to the community, ecological and economic value of small-farm productivity and local purchasing.
The Bend Farmers Market has grown exponentially in the past several years. From June through October, Bendites can purchase fresh organic produce and other foods, all of which come from within a 150-mile distance, and in the case of Fields Farm, just over from Pettigrew Road right here in Bend. Jim Fields owns and operates the five acres of Fields Farm, and acts as treasurer for the Bend Farmers Market. In addition to growing food and raising chickens, the farm hosts tours of school kids in an effort to help them make the connection from farm to table.
“The real benefit to the world would be if there were more small farms around,” said Fields. Although he and his wife make a living off their farm, and have a waiting list for CSA boxes during the growing season, it is not about getting rich. Organizations such as Slow Food want to foster the relationship between consumer and small farmer so that more small operations can sell enough to survive.
Woody Tasch, author of Slow Money, believes the philosophy extends well beyond food, even while it remains connected to it. In an interview accessible through YouTube, Tasch said that perhaps 99 percent of venture and other capitals are invested in industrial agriculture, which can have tremendous negative effects ecologically. As with money, large-scale food operations can become too big to control safely.
“The real challenge for us as a culture is to steer meaningful amounts of [capital] to support local food systems,” said Tasch.
Sophie Bello and Gabe Cox, who participate in the Bend Farmers Market and provide CSA boxes from June to November, give an annual summer tour of their Junction City farm, Groundworks Organics.
“I had to make myself stop running around… [to] admire the sight of such a mix of good people, of all ages and stages, from so many different backgrounds, united by a passion for food and our farm. Very satisfying,” said Bello of their last open house.
The Oregon Farmers Market Association has a vision to increase “the rural-urban bond…bringing neighborhoods together by sharing our bountiful harvest and providing for the future of farms and families.” To that end, in 2009 Oregon farmers earned $390,000. from Women Infant Children vouchers issued by the federal Farm Direct Program.
It appears that Slow Foods message is spreading fast.
For more information on local CSA, you can visit the following websites: