Twenty years ago, a small group of people came together in the historic town of Königstein outside Frankfurt, to discuss the founding of what would become the second national Slow Food association. Derided by some in the beginning, it has now grown to become a major socio-political movement in Germany that counts more than 11,000 members joined in 80 convivia, each committed to promoting the marriage of pleasure and responsibility and connecting their communities with good, clean and fair producers.
Slow Food Germany was launched officially in Munich in 1992 and by the end of 1993 the association had 150 members. As membership grew into the thousands over the next few years, the first major Slow Food Germany events were held in the late 1990’s, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the first edition of the Markt des guten Geschmacks (market of good taste) took place. Held each April in Stuttgart, this national fair brings together around 400 good, clean and fair exhibitors for a market, dinner events, workshops and forums, attracting more than 80,000 visitors.
Slow Food Germany’s other second national event SlowFisch was launched in 2008, following in the footsteps of the international Slow Fish event. Held in Bremen on Germany’s north coast, the event highlights seafood traditions and promotes sustainable fisheries for Europe’s northern seas.
In addition to these two major fairs, the convivia organize a wide range of regional events, markets and educational activities, all connected by the exposure they give to small-scale, sustainable producers, including Germany’s four Presidia and 32 Ark of Taste products, and for introducing taste education to children and adults alike. Regional events include the Northern Germany Cheese Market close to Hamburg, the Arch of Taste-Market in Beuren, the “Naschmarkt” Sweets Market in Berlin and the Market of Good Food in Munich.
In recent years, Slow Food Germany has experienced a new wave of activity, with a series of initiatives also initiated by the blossoming Slow Food Youth Deutschland. Over the past 12 months, a major focus has been on the “Teller statt Tonne” (plate not waste) campaign, to highlight relentless and unnecessary food waste.
Among many actions, in January this year, 200 people chopped over a ton of vegetables at long tables set up in a Berlin marketplace, with DJ’s spinning tunes in the background, at the first “Schnippeldisko” (chopping disco) organized by the German youth to utilize fresh vegetables that would be otherwise discarded due to their irregular appearance. Around 8,000 servings of the “disco soup” were served the next day at the “Wir haben es satt!” (we’ve had enough) protest for a better Common Agricultural Policy, jointly organized by Slow Food Germany.
Slow Food Germany’s president Ursula Hudson is convinced of the need to foster the “creativity, idealism and enthusiasm of the young” and to be flexible as the association moves forward.
“The enthusiasm and commitment of young people is not only a good sign for the future of Slow Food, but for all of us, because the future of our food system is in their hands. Our food has a central role in the economy and society. It is important to create conditions which will guarantee young people a future in the food trade, agriculture and fisheries, and give city people better access to a more reliable source of good, clean and fair food. ”
On the first weekend of June, Slow Food Germany’s historic members came together with the newest and youngest supporters in Cologne, for a series of festive events and the annual general assembly, offering an occasion for reflection and to look forward together.
The Teller statt Tonne event organized by the Slow Food Youth and Slow Food Cologne Convivium, began at 8 am on Saturday June 2, with volunteers gathering in a central city square to chop ‘ugly’ vegetables salvaged the day before from local farms. Activist chef Wam Kat, head cook to many of Slow Food Germany’s recent public events, cooked up the produce into a delicious meal with his kitchen team, before everyone sat down to eat at long tables.
On Saturday evening the party moved to the Design Quartier Ehrenfeld, an innovative community project focused on building neighborhood regeneration through design projects and regional and artisanal food production. Following an aperitif in the urban agriculture garden, participants toured a number of the small businesses, retailers and craft workshops housed in the facility before sitting down to dinner, speeches and music.
Read more about Slow Food Germany’s first 20 years in a special section of the latest Slow Food Magazine, their national publication. Download here (in German).