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The Ideology of Slow Food by Luca Simonetti

The Ideology of Slow Food by Luca Simonetti

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Published by Leif Brecke
This article addresses the ideology of Slow Food (SF), an influential movement founded in Italy
in 1986. Through an analysis of a wide range of texts, ranging from SF’s opposition to fast food
to its ambition to establish a new ‘gastronomic science’ and a new ‘development model’ based
on the three criteria of buono (good), pulito (clean) and giusto (tasty), the article concludes that
SF is a descendant of the countercultural and anti-consumerist movements of the 1960s and
70s. It also claims that SF’s understanding of the capitalist system is limited, that its idea of a new
agriculture and a new economy is simply that of returning to a primitive, pre-industrial economy
(without explaining how that economy could feed the present world population), that its ideal of
a new world is that of a stratified and immutable society, and that its main goal is to combine the
commercial promotion of high-price luxury food products with political engagement.
This article addresses the ideology of Slow Food (SF), an influential movement founded in Italy
in 1986. Through an analysis of a wide range of texts, ranging from SF’s opposition to fast food
to its ambition to establish a new ‘gastronomic science’ and a new ‘development model’ based
on the three criteria of buono (good), pulito (clean) and giusto (tasty), the article concludes that
SF is a descendant of the countercultural and anti-consumerist movements of the 1960s and
70s. It also claims that SF’s understanding of the capitalist system is limited, that its idea of a new
agriculture and a new economy is simply that of returning to a primitive, pre-industrial economy
(without explaining how that economy could feed the present world population), that its ideal of
a new world is that of a stratified and immutable society, and that its main goal is to combine the
commercial promotion of high-price luxury food products with political engagement.

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Published by: Leif Brecke on May 30, 2012
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Journal of EuropeanStudies
 http://jes.sagepub.com/content/42/2/168Theonline version of this article can be found at:DOI: 10.1177/00472441124369082012 42: 168
Journal of European Studies 
Luca Simonetti
The ideology of Slow Food
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Journal of European Studies 
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at UNIV CALIFORNIA BERKELEY LIB on May 29, 2012 jes.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
 
 Journal of European Studies42(2) 168 –189© The Author(s) 2012Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/0047244112436908 jes.sagepub.com
The ideology of Slow Food
Luca Simonetti
Abstract
This article addresses the ideology of Slow Food (SF), an influential movement founded in Italyin 1986. Through an analysis of a wide range of texts, ranging from SF’s opposition to fast foodto its ambition to establish a new ‘gastronomic science’ and a new ‘development model’ basedon the three criteria of 
buono
(good),
pulito
(clean) and
 giusto
(tasty), the article concludes thatSF is a descendant of the countercultural and anti-consumerist movements of the 1960s and70s. It also claims that SF’s understanding of the capitalist system is limited, that its idea of a newagriculture and a new economy is simply that of returning to a primitive, pre-industrial economy(without explaining how that economy could feed the present world population), that its ideal of a new world is that of a stratified and immutable society, and that its main goal is to combine thecommercial promotion of high-price luxury food products with political engagement.
Keywords
agriculture, consumerism, counterculture, critical consumption, localism, ruralism, slow food,slow living, tradition, world hunger
During the 2008 Italian elections, the manifestos of three major political parties set outtheir goals as far as agriculture was concerned: the development of short supply chains;the introduction of farmers’ markets; the struggle against bio-piracy and the abandonmentof rural areas; and support for organic farming. All these goals have been vigorouslysupported by Slow Food (SF) for many years.In this paper, I intend to study the ideology of SF. Ideology, in this case, means notonly a systematic view of the world but also a false conscience, socially determined,which conceals the true nature of social relations and processes.
1
After a short description of SF and its origins, I shall address the movements connec-tions with counterculture, its complex relations with gluttony, its ideas of pleasure, itsconception of gastronomy and its views on science. I shall examine SF’s opposition to‘industrial’ farming, its critique of growth, and its suggestions for a different kind of 
Corresponding author:
Luca Simonetti, Studio Legale Associato Simonetti Persico Scivoletto, Via A, Carcini 51, 00197 Rome, ItalyEmail: l.simonetti@spslex.com
 JES
 
42
 
2
 
10.1177/0047244112436908SimonettiJournalofEuropean Studies
 at UNIV CALIFORNIA BERKELEY LIB on May 29, 2012 jes.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
 
Simonetti
169
development. Finally, the article will describe the key elements of SF ideology: the ideasof tradition, of a new consumer, and of a new engagement through food consumption.Formerly called ArciGola, SF was founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, and became aninternational association in 1989. Today it has around 90,000 members, with centres inseven countries and followers in 130, divided into approximately 800 basic units called
convivia
or
condotte
, which organize courses, tasting panels, dinners, travel and promo-tions, etc. In Italy, SF owns a publishing house, maintains two magazines and operates aservice company (SlowFood Promozione S.r.l.). It has created, together with public and private bodies, not-for-profit entities such as the Fondazione SlowFood per la Biodiversità,a university for gastronomic studies, a wine bank, the Mother Earth (Terra Madre)Foundation and so on. It also organizes the so-called Presìdi, devoted to the preservationand defence of rare foods, as well as events such as the Saloni del Gusto, Cheese,SlowFish, and many others. It is a true multinational entity, capable of raising funds on alarge scale, of concluding cooperation agreements with governments and large corpora-tions, and of mobilizing politicians and prominent personalities with divergent politicalopinions.
2
SF’s main goals are the following: 
 placing the right emphasis on the pleasure of food, and learning how to appreciatedifferent recipes and tastes, in order to recognize the various places and skills of  production, and to respect the rhythms of the seasons and of the
convivium
; 
sustaining the education of taste as a defence against poor quality, food fraud andthe standardization of our meals; 
safeguarding local cuisines, traditional production systems, and vegetable andanimal species at risk of extinction; 
sustaining a new model of agriculture that is less intensive and cleaner; 
defending biodiversity and the right of the people to food sovereignty.
3
SF was created in the late 1980s by people feeling a ‘snobbish distaste for that consumer-ist and TV-addicted Italy’ and a desire to ‘contain this barbaric invasion’ (Petrini andPadovani, 2005: 92). Its origins date back to a reaction to the first Italian fast-food outlets(the first McDonald’s restaurant in Italy opened in 1985), but from the very beginning itwas opposed not just to a food model but to an entire culture: ‘fast food was backed by anew culture and a new civilization having one value only: profit. Pleasure is totallyincompatible with productivity, since the time spent in its pursuit is subtracted from pro-duction’ (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 90−1). Thus, in the SF Manifesto, we read thatmodern civilization started under ‘the signs of dynamism and acceleration’, taking themachine as a model for man himself and velocity as the ‘dominant ideal’.
’ 
SF proposesto ‘defeat the virus of fast’, opposing the ‘dynamic life’, an ‘easy life’: ‘May suitabledoses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us fromthe contagion of the multitude that mistakes frenzy for efficiency.’ This is SF’s ‘modest proposal for a gradual as well as progressive recovery of man, both as an individual andas a species, in the long-delayed process of environmental reclamation, in order to makelife liveable again, starting from basic desires’. And the proof is easy:
 at UNIV CALIFORNIA BERKELEY LIB on May 29, 2012 jes.sagepub.comDownloaded from 

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