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Life in the slow lane

Cassie Pence
Daily file photo Morton's Organic Orchards set up a display of cherries and apricots for the Edwards Farmers' Market last summer. Slow Food U.S.A., an organization dedicated to reaquainting people with nonprocessed food and the people who grow organic products, is coming to the Vail Valley. The local chapter's first meeting is May 18 from 4-5:30 p.m.
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VAIL – Even in the health-concious Vail Valley, Egg McMuffins and Hot Pockets can sneak into locals’ diets in between their multiple jobs and singletrack rides. Processed food appears to be the American way, but Slow Food U.S.A. is coming to the valley to help reaquaint Americans with simpler times – when people grew their own food and ate at a more leisurely pace. The group draws awareness to the hazards of eating mass-produced goods, both on social and personal-health levels. Slow Food U.S.A.’s mission is to protect food tradition, culture and the environment. It teaches the community how to live slowly, eat locally and make time for meals at the table with family and friends, which according to Slow Food’s mission statement, is essential to the pursuit of happiness.The Vail Symposium, in conjunction with Colorado Mountain College, is starting a high altitude “convivium” or chapter for Slow Food U.S.A. The first meeting is May 18, a week from today, to discuss the possibilities for the program in our mountain community.

The movement was founded by Italian Carlo Petrini in response to the opening of a McDonald’s in Piazza Spagna in Rome in 1986. He recognized that the industrialization of food was standardizing taste and leading to the annihilation of thousands of food varieties and flavors. He wanted to teach consumers that they have a choice over Wendy’s and Kraft Foods. Today, the organization is active in 50 countries and has a worldwide membership of over 80,000. And it’s about to grow even larger.”The organization is respectful of food traditions and so at its core it’s really about knowing the producers of your food, which in this country we aren’t very familiar with,” said Nicole Magistro, co-owner of The Bookworm in Edwards, who with her husband, Zach, were members of Slow Food U.S.A. conviviums in Boulder and Chicago. “We eat things that are produced in factories for the most part. What we started to learn was that we were able, as Americans, to get food that was produced locally, that was produced by the hands of a local person, and that’s when we started getting involved in community-supported agriculture.”Deb Luginbuhl of the Vail Symposium said she envisions the chapter including citizens who appreciate wholesome food, organic gardeners, restaurateurs, farmers and schools. It’s a community effort, she said.”The goal is to increase awareness of what we’re eating and getting families to understand that meal-time is important,” said Luginbuhl. “It’s not about stopping at McDonald’s to make sure the kids have something to eat before soccer practice.”

A convivium is required to bring awareness of Slow Food’s mission, support local farmers and businesses that offer quality food products and services and organize educational events. Luginbuhl hopes to start a community garden that the schools would eventually take over.”We have national and world-renowned restaurants, sommeliers, wine people,” said Pollyanna Forster, co-owner of eat! drink! in Edwards. “The level of professionalism is really high, so we have a great community to draw from, both in people who can teach this way of living as well as people who will embrace it.” Forster was a member of a Slow Food convivium in San Francisco. Her wine and gourmet food shop already practices the Slow Food philosophy carrying only small production and organic products. She sees the spreading of Slow Food’s message not only as a health benefit to our community, but a step in improving the world.”It has to do with all aspects of life and living your life,” Forster said. “It has to do with getting your hands dirty and wanting to learn about how to grow things and how things are made and produced. Things that I see for the future are taking people on field trips to Fort Collins to milk cows and figure out how cheese is made.”

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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