Slow Food: Are You a Co-producer?
By Doug Linzey
A couple of years ago I joined the board of Slow Food Nova Scotia (SFNS). Most of my fellow board members are involved in creating and promoting food and food products here in the Valley and elsewhere in Nova Scotia. But I’m not – so how was I to describe my relationship to food other than as a consumer?
It turns out I’m a co-producer. It took me a while to figure out what this means – after all, apart from growing my own garlic, I’m definitely not a producer. In 1989 the Slow Food movement, now an international phenomenon, was started in Italy by Carlo Petrini, a Piedmont native who thought that the world should become more attuned to and appreciative of locally grown, healthy, and lovingly prepared food. It was the appearance in 1986 of the first McDonald’s in Rome that got him going.
Local Slow Food branches are known as convivia, of which there are three currently active in Nova Scotia. We members in the Valley belong to the NS Mainland South convivium. At the outset, Carlo declared three defining tenets of Slow Food: that it be GOOD, CLEAN, and FAIR. But I’ll leave it to another time to get into the specifics of these three words.
Over the years my wife and I have almost completely changed the way we look at food. From buying everything at the big grocery stores, with price being the main criterion; to now sourcing meat, fish, eggs, many dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and beer and wine from people we’ve come to know as producers and friends and neighbours. We get to know our food and how it’s grown, harvested, and prepared.
We’ve learned to eat some products only in season. We shop at farmers’ markets, farm markets, and local outlets. We visit farms. We go to restaurants that support the Slow Food ethos. The local food scene is growing, as more consumers like us become aware of healthy food alternatives and learn new eating habits. Producers, in turn, are responding and, hopefully, prospering. Because of this symbiotic relationship, we consumers are in effect all co-producers.