How to experience Italy's Slow Food movement

“Eating is an agricultural act,” said the American farmer poet Wendell Berry in his 1989 manifesto.

That same year, a farm-to-table culinary movement that launched halfway across the world, from a little town in northern Italy, echoed this profound sentiment. The movement was called "Slow Food."

Today it has become a worldwide institution and a pinnacle of culinary excellence in Italy. Follow Slow Food’s philosophy on your next trip to Italy to travel responsibly and eat with intention.

From fast food to the slow food revolution

Slow Food, while headquartered in Northwestern Italy in the small town of Bra, has its origins in Rome.

In 1986 the first McDonald’s in Italy opened its doors in the heart of Piazza di Spagna, inspiring thousands of enraged Romans to fill the streets in protest.

The (cheekily named) Slow Food movement was born out of this fear of a fast-food invasion and the desire to protect and preserve local culinary traditions.

Today it is a global organization in over 160 countries, working to ensure access to good, clean and fair food all around the world.

This means high-quality ingredients, sustainable and green agricultural practices, and accessible prices.

They intentionally call consumers "co-producers," that is to say, active participants whose food choices affect the food industry as well as the planet.

Eat seasonally
and sustainably

The first tenant of the Slow Food philosophy is to eat seasonally. Many consumers are so used to supermarkets filled with every product imaginable that we forget when products are actually in season.

Eating seasonally lowers your carbon footprint and supports small-scale local farmers. When traveling in Italy, seek out restaurants with seasonal menus like Osteria Santo Stefano in Piacenza.