With the Delegate Summit completed on Friday, Saturday inaugurated the Slow Food Nations Festival. Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets and 14th Street between Market and Lawrence were dotted with booths of the taste marketplace, a kids area with gardens & cooking, and international pavilions. And it all was free and open to the public, although, of course, there was plenty of small, artisan made products for sale.

The festival kicked off with a panel titled “Love the Earth, Defend the Future: Taking Action to Protect Our Food.” The panel included Carlo Petrini-founder and president of Slow Food International; Alice Waters-chef (and author) founder of Chez Panisse(what some have called (the original farm-to-table restaurant) and vice president of Slow Food International; Ron Finley-an advocate for urban transformation through urban gardening and fresh, healthy produce for kids; Michel Nischan-chef, author, and advocate, focused on sustainable food systems and social equity through food; and musician Jack Johnson who is a proponent for sustainable local food systems and plastic free initiatives.

Kim Severs, a journalist with The New York Times who moderated the panel, began by saying she likes that Slow Food has been political but not partisan and described it is “a delicious revolution.”

Some of the panel highlights I noted:

Alice Waters compared our current times to the Vietnam War era-It’s a lot worse than we know, so we have to do something dramatic together.

  • But isn’t food frivolous in these times? Quoting Ron Finley-not at all, we can’t survive without it. More people are killed in East LA by drive-ins than drive-bys.
  • It’s not a bad thing that the Administration is not doing much on food because that leaves it up to us. Farmers markets, food hubs, etc. are disruptive initiatives, with or without government involvement.
  • Still, we need to ask our politicians really tough questions about food and educate them

Ron Finley noted he is not working with the government because “they have enslaved us, it is a WMD.” He stressed the importance of starting early educating young people about real food.

Jack Johnson added you make them fall in love with good food “because you protect what you love.”

One of the panelists – I didn’t catch which – added this startling statistic: For the cost of one dialysis treatment, 250 people can eat three meals a day.

And Carlo Petrini spent a significant amount of time singing the praises of (writer and Kentucky farmer) Wendell Berry : It seems odd that you are looking for a political solution when you have the answer right here: Wendell Berry, he is insightful and knows the rot in the system. More:

  • Eating as an agricultural act is the most important thing. I don’t want to eat things I don’t know. Is it just a matter of how cheap it is?
  • Wendell also talks about how we need to pay more for our food. As long as we pay so little for our food, put such a low value on it, there won’t be change. There are negative externalities that destroy nature, community, the economy.
  • The revolution starts with each of us and the food we eat. Understand the difference between price and value.
  • Biodiversity, sustainability, soil fertility all are important.
  • If we want to bring about this change, politicians will follow us. We have to regenerate the economy buy paying value, paying more, then we can change politics. Be generous; we can’t change politics by being stingy.


About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.