The Diet Detective: Q&A With Food Guru Carlo Petrini

The healthy food movement is moving these days. And one man, an Italian named Carlo Petrini, has been on a mission to promote the culture of conviviality, good food and wine that has developed into the Slow Food movement. Petrini, the president and founder of Slow Food, has played a decisive role in creating and promoting its projects, which have acquired great international visibility. Among Petrini's creations is the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the first academic institution to offer an interdisciplinary approach to food studies.

Now, Slow Food has a network of 100,000 members in 153 countries with 1,300 local chapters. The organization develops projects at the local, regional and global level, including 350 school gardens in 100 countries. Their Terra Madre event involves 2,000 food communities, 1,000 cooks, 500 academics and 1,000 young activists.

Carlo Petrini understands the concept of good, clean, fair food and wants the world to understand it, too. I was able to e-mail him a few questions to find out more about the man behind this international food phenomenon.

What's the meaning behind "slow food," and how did the movement start?
Slow Food is about eating good, clean and fair. The concept of good, clean and fair represents the core of our philosophy. When we speak of good food, we mean that it should be good to the palate and good according to the mind. Clean means it should be made in a way that is sustainable for our Earth and does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health. Finally, food must also be fair, guaranteeing that producers receive a fair price for their labor and are treated with respect. These are three useful guidelines consumers can use when choosing their food in order to ensure that what we eat is good for us, for those who produce it and for the environment.

Slow Food began as a gastronomic association that worked to preserve and promote the pleasure of good food. With time it evolved as we realized that in order to eat good food, it was necessary to preserve the land and the traditional methods of production that were at risk of being lost due to the rise of industrial production.

How does Slow Food activate people politically?
Slow Food promotes the active participation of its 100,000 members through local convivia, or chapters. These groups are active in their local communities, organizing courses, promoting campaigns at the local level, linking consumers with local producers and participating in the major international events organized by the association. One such event is Terra Madre, which takes place every two years in Turin. It is a meeting that brings together sustainable farmers, fishermen, food producers, cooks, teachers, researchers, experts and students, all of whom work towards the creation of a good, clean and fair model of food production and consumption. In essence, Slow Food calls for an active mobilization of its members on a local level but always keeps in mind those issues that involve us all globally.

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