Responsible Consumption and Food Labelling
Although food consumption is largely determined by food availability and by consumers’ food environment, Slow Food believes shopping for food remains a political act. The choices we make have effects on agricultural models, agricultural and food policies, on the environment and biodiversity. This is why Slow Food has always underlined the importance of labeling food products clearly.
Clear labeling allows consumers to make informed decisions and producers to emphasize their products’ specific qualities. Equipped with appropriate knowledge, consumers then possess the power to shape food production and market. Given this important role, Slow Food has coined the term “co-producer” to highlight that our consumer choices can bring great change to how food is cultivated, produced, and distributed.
Slow Food contributes to the debate on food labelling taking place at the EU level, in particular on the topics of labelling of origin and of geographical indications (Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication).
In order to deliver more complete and transparent information to customers, Slow Food launched its narrative label project. A narrative label does not replace mandatory labels but it supplements them by providing additional information regarding varieties and breeds, cultivation and processing methods, place of origin, animal welfare, and by giving advice on storage and use. The narrative label is already present on Slow Food’s Presidia products and represents a way of highlighting their competitive value based on their authentic difference.
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”
Michael Pollan – In Defense of Food
Clear food labeling, whether about the nutritional quality of food, its origin, or its characteristics, allows consumers to make informed decisions and producers to emphasize the specific qualities of their product.
Many pieces of information are already mandatory of many foods in the EU including the list of ingredients, the “use by” date and others, and the EU has indicated that it will work on strengthening a number of labelling schemes, including labelling of origin, front-of-pack nutrition labelling, and geographical indications in its recent “Farm to Fork Strategy”. Slow Food believes consumers still lack important information that would enable them to make informed choices about what they are about to purchase, particularly with regards to the sustainability of the product.
In order to offer consumers more complete and transparent information, Slow Food launched its Narrative Label project, which does not replace mandatory labels but supplements them by providing additional information about varieties and breeds, cultivation and processing methods, areas of origin, animal welfare, and advice on storage and use. It is a way to give products back their competitive value, based on their authentic difference. Slow Food is now taking steps to promote this narrative label to European manufacturers, by offering them practical examples of its application.
Slow Food’s guides to responsible consumption
Food is a unique asset but, stripped of its spiritual, cultural and immaterial value, it is now regarded as just another consumer good. In a food system increasingly driven by market logic, food’s most important benchmark criterion is to be cheap, regardless of its intrinsic value.
This model, has favored the quick and aggressive development of the agri-food business, capable of supplying large quantities of cheap food, to the detriment of small farmers, the environment, and public health.
This system has broken the bond between the people who produce food and the people who eat it, leading to:
- a decreased sense of mutual responsibility;
- the dwindling of vital sources of knowledge;
- the impossibility for consumers to access information on the food they eat.
Slow Food is committed to reversing the logic of a system in which food value has been supplanted by food price by
- rebuilding the relationship between producers and consumers;
- restoring the value of food;
- making price reflect food’s fair and real value.
Slow Food believes that consumers can use their buying power to influence supply and production methods. They need to show an active interest in food and those who produce it, the methods they use and the problems they face.
Slow Food has coined the term “co-producer” to describe this new consumer model. By making informed, responsible choices, they forge a direct link with what is on their plate and with those who put it there. Co-producers are in a position make the choice to recognize food’s intrinsic value and pay the right price for it.
Equipped with appropriate knowledge, co-producers possess the power to redirect food production and contribute to the transition towards sustainable food systems!