Through enjoyment to a sustainable food industry - Slow Food strengthens the senses for a responsible food system
Author: Vivien Vollmer
The problem of our food culture
Food is available to us en masse and, at least in the western world, the hunger problem is thus extremely minimised. Food is cheap, available from all over the world and always available regardless of the season. However, we also know the consequence of fast food, the overproduction of food, industrial meat processing and the air miles for exotic fruits and vegetables. The damage to the environment and our own health is therefore well known, but often ignored.
As a result, the awareness of enjoyment and food culture is also increasingly lost. However, according to the Slow Food movement, this is a key component of a sustainable food industry. This rising counter-trend in the food scene is driving de-industrialisation in order to strive towards an unconscious food culture. The aim is to find a way back to indulgence with responsibility: It should also be regional, seasonal and fair.
Source & copyright Hobenköök market hall
What is Slow Food:
The idea behind this food trend originally developed due to the commercialisation of fast food, the increasing global food supply and the democratisation of meat. Having everything available all the time and everywhere makes you full and tired. Slow Food aims to decelerate the food industry again and thus lead the industry towards mindful production. From the consumer's point of view, conscious consumption is strengthened. According to Hanni Rützler, this means that our near senses - smelling, tasting, feeling - are becoming more prominent again as an aid to orientation.
Above all, the regional cuisine, native plants and local traditions are supported. The mega trend brutal local is thus also a part of the movement. The term Slow Food was also shaped by Carlo Petrini, who founded the organisation of the same name in the 1980s. The core of the philosophy is to build a sustainable food system that is suitable for the future. The focus is on harmonising the ecosystem and animal welfare with enjoyment.
Why Slow Food?
With 26%, the sector is responsible for almost almost one third of total CO2 emissions. The food waste section alone already accounts for 8-10%, which is another major problem area. According to the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021, around 913 million tonnes of food ended up in the trash in 2019. Surprisingly, households top the list with 61%, followed by restaurants (26%) and retailers (13%) In addition, there are excruciating factory farms, higher water consumption and the destruction of biodiversity through agriculture and pesticides.
If the above reasons are not sufficient to shift down a few gears, the convincing argument should be you yourself. Because fast food, pesticides and chemicals as well as reinforced ingredients such as sugar and factory farming are not only a major burden for the environment, but also on our own health. A change in consumer awareness could be the catalyst for change in an industry to change current structures and industrial processes.
Changed consumer behaviour puts pressure on companies
When the culture of enjoyment changes, this creates pressure on companies. In order to get consumers' attention, products have to tell a story. Offering new, unusual tastes and disclosing their origins and production. In addition, a special dining experience must be created and traditions revived.
The start-up scene in the industry in particular has led the way with a large increase. Especially when it comes to offering new products with a focus on sustainability. But established companies have also recognised the opportunity to expand their range with vegan and vegetarian options, for example.
The international Slow Food e.v. also forms a community that advocates for a socially and ecologically responsible food system that protects biocultural diversity and animal welfare. Food should be good, clean and fair. The website lists restaurants and pubs around the world that have joined this movement.
Slow food starts at home
The Corona pandemic has already forced some changes in our eating habits. While at home, many have dedicated themselves to their garden or balcony and grown their own plants and vegetables. Since food and drink fulfil a basic human need, the unique thing about this sector is that everyone is able to develop their own personal culture of eating and enjoyment.