Last night I was invited to speak for a few minutes about Slow Food in the Tetons at a small gathering hosted by a grass roots group called the
The momentum behind the Slow Food movement is mind-boggling. In only twenty years since Carlo Petrini organized the protest against the opening of the first McDonalds on the Spanish Stairs in Rome, the movement has spread to over 100 countries and boasts a membership of almost 100,000. In a few weeks, the
Slow Food is paying for many of the farmers coming from developing countries- many of them will be traveling outside their country for the first time. Someone asked me last night if this was a good idea- she thought that perhaps these people would just want to escape the lives they are leading when they experience the affluence at the meeting. This may be, but should we let them decide that or their rich government leaders? The goal is for them to learn from other producers how to make a living with their products, set up trade agreements, and solve problems of sustainability.
At the 2004 Terra Madre Indian activist Vandana Shiva pointed out that it was the first time in history that an international meeting on agriculture included farmers dressed in their traditional colors instead of white men dressed in black suits. This is a true “quiet revolution” without guns and laws, one that is bypassing the governments as the actual farmers are shaping their future.
Sustainability, global warming, religious warfare, the health of our children…all of these issues seem so overwhelming it’s tempting to throw up your arms and give up. It’s helpful to remember that every great social movement started with a small meeting in a small town with a few friends. Last night a young man stood up after a dozen or so people announced the heroic projects they were undertaking and said his efforts weren’t that impressive but that he was driving less, trying to educate his friends and being conscious of what he eats. He got a huge round of applause. It’s people like that who are making a difference, a tiny bit at a time.