The latest issue of The Atlantic arrived in my mailbox last week, and I stumbled across an article that I think many of you would be interested in.
The Slow Food movement got it’s start in Italy as a socio-political response to the rise of industrial food-processing corporations and their emphasis on economies of scale and profits versus nutrition or taste. One of their latest ventures is endorsing a new food market in Turin, Italy, close to their home base that emphasizes local, organic foods. This isn’t all that unusual, but the twist is that the market is doing it’s best to make local and artisanal foods popular and affordable to everyone, not just elitists.
Around my area, at least, the Slow Food movement appears to be aimed towards upscale crowds that can afford to shop at luxury markets and eat at five-star restaurants. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the epicurean side of things of course, but I think the group would have a much broader appeal if they actively focused on the whole range of local food opportunities, including growing victory gardens, doing more cooking at home, and the like. Perhaps they will focus on such things in the future.
The Eataly market concept appears to be gaining traction elsewhere as central farmers’ markets regain some of their lost status. As time goes on and the issues with industrial food production and processing become more self-evident I think that we’ll see even more markets spring up. Our local farmers market is starting work on a year-round indoor market that can offer at least some goods no matter what the weather is like outside.
I’m writing this post on Easter Morning while waiting for some bread to finish baking in the oven. The bread will be served to family as part of our Easter dinner today. There’s nothing special about the bread other than the fact that I made it from scratch, and because of this I’ll get a number of very nice complements from everyone. The fact that eating fresh-baked, homemade bread elicits such a response says something about our culture, namely that we have commoditized even the most basic needs of life to the point that actually making your own bread, or your own clothes it treated as a sign that you’re different somehow. You’re wealthy enough to have the time to do such things, or perhaps you’re poor enough that you have no choice, or maybe it’s just one of those strange hobbies you choose to do when there’s nothing good on TV.
When the time comes that doing such things is seen as the norm rather than the exception, I think we’ll all be a lot happier whether we have more material wealth or not. Super-Farmers Markets like the one described above will hopefully encourage more people to think and act this way.