Scottish Slowlands

26 Feb 2008

The Scottish Parliament will today hold a reception to mark the city of Perth becoming Scotland’s first CittaSlow, or Slow City. In December last year, Margo MacDonald, the Independent member for Lothians, asked the Scottish Government what support it is giving to the Slow Food movement and Cittaslow? Here is the transcript of proceedings:

Michael Russell, Minister for Environment: I am grateful for the question because the Scottish Government is enthusiastic about the Slow Food events that are being held. Indeed, the Scottish Government sponsored and was represented at a Slow Food event in Edinburgh last month, which Margo MacDonald will know about. We hope that the Slow Food movement, which started in Italy and has expanded, will contribute to the forthcoming discussion on the national food policy for Scotland. The quality of the national food policy will be influenced by the same type of ideas that lie behind the Slow Food movement.
Margo MacDonald: I thank the minister for the slow way that he spoke, because I really understood that. There may not be much of an understanding of the Cittaslow network of towns among other members. Is the stand-in for the cabinet secretary aware that at the moment only one town in Scotland, Perth, has applied for Cittaslow status but that it is soon to be joined by Linlithgow? Is there anything that the Scottish Government can do both to help Linlithgow in its bid to join the movement and to publicise the fact that the movement exists?
Michael Russell: I hope that my presence here is not merely as a stand-in, but as an enthusiast for Slow Food. The member will be aware, and I am sure that other members will want to be aware, that the original Slow Food event involved three pig processors who were flown over from Italy to Edinburgh last month. They brought a whole pig carcase and demonstrated how to make salami, sausages, pancetta and all sorts of other delicacies, making creative use of the whole pig. I know that Margo MacDonald would want to see more creative use made of whole pigs and other resources, so I can reassure her that we will encourage Slow Food wherever events take place. I am happy for us to have discussions with people in Linlithgow who are enthusiastic about such an approach to the good things that we have in Scotland.
Roseanna Cunningham (Scottish National Party – Perth):
Perth has been granted Cittaslow status – it was given the designation in March 2007. It is part of the job of any city that is given that status to help to publicise the whole movement. Will the minister therefore join me in looking forward to the event that will take place in Parliament in the spring, sponsored by Perth and Kinross Council among others, to help that publicity? I invite the minister to Perth to see the benefits of Cittaslow status. Indeed, I open that invitation to all other members, including you, Presiding Officer. The benefits of Cittaslow status become evident when you visit Perth.
Michael Russell: I am grateful for the invitation, which I would be happy to take up. There is a serious point. In developing our food policy in Scotland, we should engage fully with the issues that lie behind the Slow Food movement. They include reconnecting people with food – particularly locally produced, seasonal food – and making people aware of the methods and environmental impact of production. Local food has different meanings to different people. The Scottish Government supports local food and, therefore, the ideas behind Slow Food and the movement itself.

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