What’s Slow Food Vail Valley? | VailDaily.com

What’s Slow Food Vail Valley?

Cassie Pence
Greener Pastures
Vail CO Colorado

It was Slow Food that first introduced me to Organic Valley’s Earth Dinner idea. In celebration of Earth Day (April 22), you create a dinner using as many locally grown and organic ingredients as possible. And then, you talk about it.

You spark dialogue with dinner guests about their connections with food and the Earth. You identify everything that you’re eating, where it came from and who produced it. As activist and author Frances Moore Lappe (“Diet for a Small Planet”) says: “The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.”

In love with throwing dinner parties, I was game to host an Earth Dinner, despite the potentially weak spread April in the mountains might produce. I had to be creative: rye berry risotto with local dried forest mushrooms, MouCo goat cheese from Fort Collins, baguettes from Avon Bakery and Deli and a red wine from Jack Rabbit Hill in Hotchkiss.

The food was good, but the conversation was great. We shared food memories, talked about Colorado wines, swapped gardening snafus and everyone tasted at least one food (or wine) they had never tasted before.

I’m grateful for Slow Food (and Organic Valley) for introducing me the Earth Dinner and its mission, which is exactly what the non-profit Slow Food is all about.

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members and “chapters” around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Just like my last year Earth Dinner did.

Slow Food’s national programs work to promote local and regional foods, safeguard biodiversity and connect people around the country with their food and the people who grow it. The programs also strive to educate people through school and campus-based initiatives.

Local chapters accomplish similar missions on a smaller scale. Our Vail Valley chapter has hosted chef dinners, cooking workshops and has toured local and regional farms.

Carlo Petrini founded Slow Food in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome. For those of you who appreciate that sort of gumption (I know I do), and want to be in similar company, Slow Food Vail Valley will host its annual meeting today (see info box for details.)

Local Slow Food leader Todd Rymer, whose day job is directing the culinary program at Colorado Mountain College, will share his experience at the mother of all Slow Food events – Terra Madre in Turin, Italy. Terra Madre is an international network of food producers, cooks, educators and students from 150 countries who are united by a common goal of global sustainability in food.

Rymer had to apply and was selected as a U.S. delegate for his personal work in food issues. Rymer recently launched a degree program in sustainable cuisine at CMC.

“I wanted to meet people from all over the world and learn about the issues and challenges that impact their food system. About half of the U.S. delegates were farmers and growers,” Rymer says.

One of those interesting characters he met was his roommate at the event, a man who lives in a tent half the year while growing food in Maine and spends the winters in Florida.

“One of his primary sources of income is from ‘gleaning’ fruit, picking the left-overs after it is no longer economically feasible to bring in work crews,” Rymer says.

This is just one of the stories he’ll share. The meeting is also an opportunity for people who want to join Slow Food Vail Valley to come meet other members and leaders and to learn more about the organization in general.

“Slow Food is the leading organization in America dedicated to creating a food system that is ‘good, clean and fair.’ One of the primary tenets is that we are not simply food consumers, but that our economic choices make us co-producers of our food. As a result, it is vital that we educate and discipline ourselves to make choices that are healthy for ourselves, our communities and our planet,” Rymer says. “Becoming part of Slow Food makes one more aware of the many issues impacting our global food supply and the actions that we can take to make it healthier and more secure.”

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She and her husband, Captain Vacuum, own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Contact her at cassie@organichousekeepers.com.

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