Slow Food Nation – A Replicable Model for Raising Awareness?

This past weekend saw San Francisco host the inaugural Slow Food Nation, a four-day celebration of producers, farmers and food, and the tenets of Slow Food International, that all food should be good, clean and fair. Over 60,000 people attended, including an estimated 50,000 at the Civic Center Plaza.

In addition to the open-air food festival, supported by Civic Center’s outdoor Marketplace and Slow On The Go Food Stalls, and the Victory Garden planted on the grounds of City Hall, the weekend also featured a thought-provoking series of panels called Food for Thought. Over 14,000 people attended these political discussions, where the issues addressed included global climate change, rising energy costs, healthcare, working conditions for farmworkers, as well as the many challenges facing the effort to re-localize the food distribution system.

As a new addition to the Bon Appetit team, I have recently been learning a great deal more about the challenges to food that is clean, fair and sustainable. These ideals have long been important to me personally, but it was very encouraging to see them discussed in such a public forum, brought to light in lively Q&A sessions rather than silent blog comment boards. There is a great deal of passionate interest out there, and people are hungry for information and direction, for real ways that they can help make a difference in the way we grow and buy our food. Slow Food Nation seems to be making a real effort to help.

Slow Food Nation’s stated goals are to promote a sustainable, healthy and affordable food system, and this first foray into raising public awareness has made strides toward bringing these issues to the forefront of public discussion. Now that such an event has been deemed successful, this model should be brought to other parts of the country. Why not a Slow Food Nation roadshow, to extend the message outside the Bay Area, where the ‘locavore’ movement began?

-Brad Thompson, Field Marketing Manager