The Start of Slow Food
Slow Food refers to a movement that began in Italy in 1986. It emerged as a response to the fast food industry and now has over 100,000 followers in 130 countries (Andrews, 2016). Australia is among them, with cook and food author, Maggie Beer, introducing Slow Food to the country in 1995.
Slow Food Australia states that the goal of the movement is “the protection of our unique biodiversity and local food traditions”. These values have becomes increasingly important as Western cultures, such as ours, become increasingly dependent on having quick and cheap access to almost anything, all year around (Petrini, 2003) Food is no exception. Fast food allows snacks and meals to be eaten quickly, with minimal cost or thought. The Slow Food movement disputes this lifestyle and encourages people to recognise the variety of food, as well as the places and people who produce it.
The Movement that Matters
Slow Food recognises a number of positive impacts that people can make by supporting the campaign. Reducing the effects of climate change, decreasing food wastage and raising awareness of global hunger are among the benefits of the movement.
Slow Food Australia states:
“Our philosophy is for everyone to have access to Good, Clean and Fair Food.
Good: 0ur food should be tasty, seasonal, fresh, wholesome, linked to our local culture and seasons
Clean: our food should nourish a healthy lifestyle and be produced in ways that preserve biodiversity, without causing harm to our environment, animals or people
Fair: our food should be affordable while respecting fair conditions and pay for our producers
For all: Good, Clean and Fair food should be accessible to all, celebrating the diverse cultures, traditions and nations that reside in Australia”
(‘About Us – Slow Food Australia’ 2016).
Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney, Dr. Alana Mann, is a published advocate for human rights and food politics. Her passion and roles as an advocate is communicated through her book, Global Activism in Food Politics: Power Shift. Mann investigates the structural inequalities within our food system, promoting the slow food movement (Mann, n.d.). In an online article Mann highlights that “relocating control of food production and distribution to growers and eaters rather than corporations requires the mobilisation of publics of citizens committed to resolving the public problem that is our food system” (Mann, 2015).
Alice Waters is a restaurant owner and spoke to ABC Radio Nation about her involvement in the Slow Food movement:
You can find more about Alice Waters and the interview on the ABC website.
The Danger of Big-brand Supermarkets
Like many countries across the world, Australia, has become accustomed to having access to any food 12 months of the year. Much of this can be attributed to large chains such as Woolworths and Coles (Wesfarmers), which makes up about 80% of supermarket sales. Combine this with alcohol and petrol retail and these two companies alone own 40% of Australia’s retail. This level of influence in the share market makes it easier for these companies to negatively impact small and independent businesses (Supermarkets in Australia Shop Ethical, 2016).
This influence was made evident after Murray Goulburn and Fonterra dairy companies announced they were cutting the price they’d pay for milk, earlier this year. To support local dairy farmers during this time, Australians were encouraged to purchase name-brand milk, only to have Coles and Woolworths reduce the number of branded milk available on their shelves. Both companies were additionally accused of hiding name-brand milk out the back so that customers were forced to buy Coles and Woolworths milk (Bailey, 2016). This example demonstrates the control and influence chain supermarket hold over our choices as consumers, and why movements such as Slow Food are so important.
Main-stream Media Neglect
The media has the ability to have a significant impact. While in some instances the mainstream media promotes local produces and businesses, they often advocate for bulk savings for the Australian family. While this may give idea of saving, often fridges and pantries become a location for poor choices and food wastage. Our consumer society has trained us to see bigger as better. The Australian public feel the need to cook a new meal every night and supermarkets have glamorised perfection in our food, leading the huge volumes of food being discarded every day (Prtichard, 2014).
The Live Local Campaign
My advocacy campaign, Live Local will take a more focused and personal approach. The campaign will empower individuals to make a change that can have a direct impact on their local city or town. The campaign will use a Facebook page and blog to encourage people to move away from supermarket chains such as Woolworths and Coles, and instead support small businesses and buy local produce. This will be achieved by sharing the negative impacts these huge companies have as well as advertising local markets, produces stores and small business from various locations, with a scope surrounding the NSW South Coast.
Want to know more about the Slow Food movement and its operation in New South Wales? Check out Milkwood:
- About Us – Slow Food Australia 2016, Slow Food Australia. viewed 17 August 2016, <http://slowfoodaustralia.com.au/about-us/>.
- Andrews, G. 2016, The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure – Open Research Online, Oro.open.ac.uk. viewed 12 August 2016, <http://oro.open.ac.uk/27365/>.
- Bailey, M. 2016, Big boys undercut milk call to arms, Heraldsun.com.au. viewed 12 August 2016, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/shoppers-claim-big-boy-supermarkets-undercutting-milk-call-to-arms/news-story/4c27159f9da15088e57fa7799aed7eb8>.
- Mann, A. 2015, Theconversation.com. viewed 19 August 2016, <https://theconversation.com/food-democracy-why-eating-is-unavoidably-political-43474>.
- Mann, A. n.d., Global activism in food politics,.
- Petrini, C. 2003, Slow food, Columbia University Press, New York.
- Prtichard, B. 2014, Eat. Save – Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney Environment Institute. viewed 12 August 2016, <http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/blog/think-eat-save/>.
- Supermarkets in Australia | Shop Ethical! 2016, Ethical.org.au. viewed 19 August 2016, <http://www.ethical.org.au/3.4.2/get-informed/issues/supermarkets-in-australia/>.