The primary reason to join Slow Food Huntington, as should be the case for any social organization, is that it stands for something good. In this case, the good is the right to healthy food, with healthy understood as referring not only to the body consuming it, but to the environment in which it is raised, the workforce involved in its preparation and the community in which it is distributed.
Slow Food has been an important force in identifying and defending this right. In this sense it is a civil rights organization. The right to eat is just as important, and just as embattled, as the right to organize, assemble, and speak one’s mind, along with another right, not usually identified as such: the right to know. As the food industry becomes ever more corporatized and impersonal, access to reliable, accurate information has become ever more precarious. What chemicals are in this food? Has it been genetically modified? Was this head of lettuce sprayed with pesticides in the field? Was the soil treated with chemical fertilizers? Were the farmhands paid a decent wage? Slow Food, along with other organizations, works to bring such information to the public and to defend the public’s right to know.
Culture is another element in any civil rights movement. The defense of food culture was the foundational mission of Slow Food. The name refers to traditional cooking as opposed to fast food and its variants: takeout, supermarket prepared meals, frozen dinners, energy drinks and meals in a can. Perhaps all of these have their place, but it is all too easy for convenience, and the all too instant gratification of salt and fat, to overwhelm more considered approaches to nutrition and cooking.
When you buy groceries you are buying into a way of life and an economy that sustains it. What kind of life do you choose? Shouldn’t you make an informed choice, or at least have access to information that makes such a choice possible? When you prepare a meal you are participating, or not, in traditions and forms of knowledge that can go back centuries. In our heterogeneous, fast-paced society, tradition is always under threat.
Food deserts have developed in communities throughout this country, and there should be none. Children are developing diabetes and morbid obesity and they should be healthy and active. We should do better.
This is the big picture, the backdrop to our Slow Food potluck dinners, lectures, and outings, and to the many civic, cultural and political events which we support as a clearinghouse for food advocacy. Your membership will support such work, and it will be one way, among others, to support a movement for food rights.
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