From the Garden to the Table

Slow Foods International is an organization aiming to produce sustainable food and promote local small businesses all over the world.

| Winter 2014-15

Slow Food International was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. Promoting local foods and preserving food traditions and production as an alternative to fast foods and industrial farming is at the very heart of the organization. The goal of producing sustainable food and promoting local small businesses is also a primary part of the movement. The organization now counts hundreds of thousands of members in branches throughout 150 countries.

I’ve been a supporter of the Slow Foods movement for many years. I was one of the delegates from the United States to the 2005 International Slow Foods Conference in Turin, Italy, where I presented a program, Heirloom Herbs of the World.

Local Slow Foods groups, called “Convivia,” began forming around the U.S. in the mid-2000s, including the Ozarks Slow Foods group in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Friends there asked me to participate in an awareness rising dinner for their group in 2007.

My part was to prepare an organic meal as a demonstration, which included several small courses, viewed and consumed by 30 people. I chose to make the meal as ecologically friendly as possible, ensuring there was nothing left from our meal that ended up in a landfill.

The entire meal, with the exception of the beverages, was served without plates, forks, spoons or serving dishes. The only clean-up afterward was a few mixing bowls and spoons and the beverage glasses. Everything I served was organic, either from my own garden or grown within 50 miles.

Since I grow an assortment of hardy bananas and edible water plants including taro (Elephant ears), cannas and many native plants, I used those as the serving platters for the foods. Edible flowers from my garden were used in several dishes, as well.

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