Post Typecollage

Why We’re Here

// By Jane Pellicciotto //

As many organizations do, our steering committee gathered recently to talk about program planning for 2014. But before tossing around new ideas, before reviewing the success of the past year’s events, and before figuring out how best to serve our membership (all important!), we were asked what Slow Food means to us.

It’s all too easy to go on auto pilot, letting day-to-day details take the place of reflection. We forget to pause and consider what brought us this current place. New to the board, I was eager to hear what inspired my compatriots.

Following are some of the thoughts (paraphrased) that swirled around the room…

One talked about food as a centerpiece in her house growing up and how her mother spoiled their father, whipping up a loaf of bread at a mere suggestion. She carried the joy of preparing food into her adult life and into her own family, embracing the importance of slowing down, gathering people together and helping them appreciate the freedom and delight that comes with making a meal of your own.

Another talked about the cultural importance of food and told of being a very picky eater at a young age. It wasn’t till she returned to her homeland of Korea at the age of 9 that she fell in love with food, so attached it was to the festival-like atmosphere of the markets—the array of colors and textures and smells—all of which made food suddenly potent and interesting, due in large part to the focus on freshness.

“I live the ideals of Slow Food,” said one person who didn’t know much about the organization till she found out they needed someone with her skills.

There was talk of moving past the idea of sustainability and into abundance, because “that’s what leads to generosity. Food makes timelessness happen,” he continued. “That wonderful forgetting that happens when you gather people around good food and talk.”

Food makes timelessness happen.

It’s no accident that Slow Food International calls its 1500 local chapters around the world convivia—a lovely word that means feast or banquet.

“Everywhere in the world there are pockets like Portland where people are thinking about the food and the seasons. It (Slow Food) has helped me be more tied to the larger world,” said one committee member.

Another put Slow Food into a context, that it starts on a personal level—your relationship to food, what you eat, what you serve your family—and extends outwards. Imagine concentric circles with you (or me or any of us) at the center. The next ring might be family, then friends, then colleagues, neighbors, the community, and so on.

Perhaps that’s why the snail, in addition to being a slow creature, is the perfect symbol to illustrate the concept of any one of us at the center, with our actions and choices spiraling out to the wider world.

While our stories overlapped, we all started from different points—advocacy, taste, culture, empowerment—so perhaps it was the steering committee chair, Cheryl, who said it best:

Slow Food meets you where you are.

Have you been to any events? What was your favorite? What would you like to see on the schedule for next year? What’s important to you?

Thanks for sharing

  1. Ellen


    Thanks for saying it so well. Your words reflect what time and thought provide in the way of “savoring” experiences. I hope to hear more stories of why people become part of Slow Food, and why they stay involved. On to the next event, feast, thought-provoking lecture, volunteer activity.

  2. Jane Pellicciotto
    Jane Pellicciotto10-23-2013

    Indeed! I’m thinking a big wall everyone can write on!