Founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986, Slow Food became an international association in 1989. It now boasts 85 000 members, offices (in order of creation) in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, USA, France, Japan and the United Kingdom and supporters in 130 countries.
Slow Food believes in recognizing the importance of pleasure connected to food. We should learn to enjoy the vast range of recipes and flavors, recognize the variety of places and people growing and producing food. We should respect the rhythms of the seasons and conviviality. But the recipe developed by Carlo Petrini and other Slow Food members proposes to add a new sense of responsibility to the search for pleasure, which we all have a right to enjoy. Slow Food has called this approach ecogastronomy. It is an attitude that combines a respect and interest in enogastronomic culture with support for those battling to defend food and agricultural biodiversity around the world. Slow Food stresses the need for taste education as the best defense against poor quality and food adulteration. It is the main way to combat the incursion of fast food into our diets. It helps to safeguard local cuisines, traditional products, vegetable and animal species at risk of extinction. It supports a new model of agriculture, which is less intensive and healthier, founded on the knowledge and know-how of local communities. This is the only type of agriculture able to offer prospects for development to the poorest regions on our planet.
For these reasons Slow Food is committed to safeguarding foods, raw materials and traditional methods of cultivation and transformation. It seeks to defend the biodiversity of cultivated and wild varieties and protect convivial places which form a part of cultural heritage because of to their historic, artistic or social value.
Slow Food has a distinctive approach to these issues. The philosophy of the movement, founded to defend gastronomic pleasure and seek a slower and more aware pace of life, extended its focus from the virtues of food to considering the quality of life and identity. It aims to recognize the history and culture of every social group as it interacts in a network of reciprocal exchange. Whether you consider a variety of fruit or a traditional local dish, you cannot ignore its relationship with history, material culture and the environment where it originated. Slow Food stresses the importance for agricultural and livestock production to maintain a balance of respect and exchange with the surrounding ecosystem. That is why Slow Food has been defined a movement of eco-gastronomes.
The network of over 85 000 Slow Food members is organized into local groups — Condotte in Italy and Convivia elsewhere in the world — which, coordinated by Convivium leaders, organize courses, tastings and dinners, promote campaigns at local level and participate in large international events organized by the association. More than 800 Slow Food Convivia are active in 80 countries, including 350 Condotte in Italy.