When we claim that eating well is an elitist preoccupation, we create a smokescreen that obscures the fundamental role our food decisions have in shaping the world. The reason that eating well in this country costs more than eating poorly is that we have a set of agricultural policies that subsidize fast food and make fresh, wholesome foods, which receive no government support, seem expensive. Organic foods seem elitist only because industrial food is artificially cheap, with its real costs being charged to the public purse, the public health, and the environment.
In 1986, Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food movement in Italy to counter the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. Since then the movement has expanded to include over 83,000 members with chapters in more than 120 countries. The idea behind Slow Food is the idea behind Chez Panisse in Berkeley, which is that people should know and appreciate where their food comes from. As well, food should be a community event with meals made from fresh, local ingredients that are shared among friends. Slow Food activists believe that the quality of food, and not just its quantity, must guide our agriculture. And the way that we grow, distribute, and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared humanity, providing not only nourishment, but beauty and pleasure. Call this “mindful eating”—the seeking out of local, organic, and sustainably harvested food, which means stepping off the treadmill of deadening conventional habits and creating your own path. This takes energy and dedication, but the rewards are plentiful. When Alice Waters calls Slow Food a “counterculture,” this is right on—food is political, and this has never been more true than today. To learn more about Slow Food in New Mexico, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.