Slow Food in UK Comes Of Age
23 Aug 05
This coming weekend, from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 August, the formation of Slow Food UK as a National Association will be celebrated in the Scottish Highlands. At this Founding Congress, a milestone in the development of British food culture, over 150 members of the British Slow Food Movement, representatives of Slow Food, farmers, producers, policy makers and food writers will come together to share their ideas, experiences and vision for the future. This is a reflection of the growth of the movement and its impact on promoting sustainable agriculture, ecology and the pleasures of eating. The new National Association —a dedicated UK office is due to open in 2006 —heralds a new opportunity to consolidate and advance these achievements.
The Slow Food UK Founding Congress will take place at Scotland’s only Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye. Located in the Inner Hebrides, Skye and its wild, majestic landscape iare an ideal location for the Congress, and Slow Food is committed to preserving the island’s biodiversity and local culture and developing initiatives to support its small farmers, artisan producers and residents. In keeping with Slow Food’s eco-gastronomic values, the event is a unique opportunity to showcase the very best of Scottish produce, with carefully sourced, quality traditional foods from the Highlands and Islands and beyond, including rare-breed beef and mutton, shellfish, heirloom vegetable varieties and artisan bread and cheese, all deliciously prepared by top local chefs. The Congress will be attended by the Movement’s founder, Carlo Petrini and a message of goodwill will be sent by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Since its foundation in 1986 in the town of Bra in Italy, Slow Food has become an international movement, and its eco-gastronomic values and activities have won the support and involvement of people throughout the world as they have become increasingly concerned about the quality, diversity and sustainability of their food. In Britain there are now over 35 Slow Food convivia in rural and urban communities and over 2,000 members, who actively participate in local, national and international events and initiatives.
Local achievements include the opening of a monthly Slow Food Market in Bristol, the UK’s first Edible School Garden in Hertfordshire, the Slow Food Cooking for Kids Project in Edinburgh and the formation of the first CittàSlow, or Slow City, in Ludlow. Through its participation in the Movement’s key international events — the Salone del Gusto, Cheese and Terra Madre — since 2001, Slow Food in the UK has worked with government departments and like-minded organisations to secure increased recognition and support for Britain’s small farmers and artisan producers, efforts that have won praise in the UK and abroad and from the Movement’s founder, Carlo Petrini: “The launch of the Slow Food UK Association is an important achievement for our Movement. It is the result of the dedication and hard work of volunteers over many years to make the British aware and proud of their gastronomic patrimony”.
According to Wendy Fogarty, International Councillor for Slow Food in the UK, “We are one of a few voluntary organisations that are growing in time-starved, debt-burdened Britain, and this is a testament to the values and activities of Slow Food, as well as to the groundswell of people who want to enjoy better quality food as a part of daily life and to support local farmers, fishermen and producers. The Congress is a thanksgiving for the tireless work of the Slow Food convivia and their members and provides a significant opportunity to discuss the future of Slow Food as the advocate of food culture in the UK, so vital to our future wellbeing”.
The Congress has been made possible by the commitment and dedication of the Highlands and Moray Convivium led by Pam Rodway, generous funding from the main sponsors, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise, and key support from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Crofters Commission, Visit Scotland and the Highland Council.
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