Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Slow Food Edinburgh AGM February 2013

Slow Food is an international movement that brings together producers, chefs and enthusiasts all with an interest in preserving and promoting the pleasure of good food. Started in Italy in the 1980s, it has grown worldwide to thousands of members all with an interest in sharing and enjoying the best local produce their region has to offer. In contrast to the industrialisation of food production, mass agribusiness, supermarkets and fast food, Slow Food seeks to encourage people to reconnect with their food and where it comes from. Sustainability and provenance are key and at Ballymaloe they are big supporters of the movement, with Darina Allen speaking at the biannual Terre Madre event, a gathering of producers from all over the world held in Turin.

Slow Food is organised regionally in local grassroots groups set up by their members called convivia (from the latin 'with life'. In Edinburgh the Slow Food convivium is one of the largest in the UK and I attended their Annual General Meeting in February to find out more about the work they're doing in Scotland. It was held at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School so I got to have a look at their lovely demo kitchen complete with glossy black aga!

Delicious Cake from The Edinburgh Larder

Before the serious business of the AGM a supper was served of organic chicken soup, tasty chicken served in a broth with vegetables, herbs and potatoes and slices of freshly baked onion bread. There was also sharp crumbly cheese made by St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese using unpasturised milk.

For dessert we ate chocolate cake made with beer from http://www.blackislebrewery.com/. The food was provided by a local business The Edinburgh Larder who are passionate about using the best of Scottish produce. We also had some delicious pies from Acanthus Hand Made Pies. They were quality raised pies filled with haggis, neeps and tatties and chicken curry.

Acanthus Pies
Jane Stewart

The AGM covered a review of 2012 and the visit to the afformentioned Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto. Running alongside Terra Madre, the Salone del Gusto is a a food market on a massive scale, where wonderful producers from all over the world have the chance to display and sell their wares. I would love to go in 2014! Jane Stewart from St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese told us about it and some of the wide range of fabulous foods that were on offer, the producers and the similarities and shared values they found in common despite coming from different corners of the world.


We also found out about some of the work Slow Food Edinburgh has been doing in the community, with schools, allotments and universities with Slow Food on Campus. There's lots going on and it was great to see so many people there and so many great producers so close to home. Hopefully that interest and enthusiasm can be maintained and built upon to encourage more people to think about where their food comes from. In the current climate of the horse meat scandal there was an interesting discussion about how Slow Food can do more to tackle the issues which have come out of that. It was no surprise to me and the people there that things like this happen when selling very cheap processed food at the end of a long supply chain, but what can be done next to convince others of the problems and risks inherent in such as system?



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