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Food Icons: Italy’s Carlo Petrini

March 20, 2017 0 Comments

Carlo Petrini and Earlywood Writer Lexi

Those of you who read Earlywood’s news may recall that one of our bloggers is Lexy Adams (yes, the Lexy Adams). A freelance writer, Lexy has spent a lot of time thinking and writing about food: from the way it’s produced to how it’s cooked. Her work has been published by Oxford University Press and she’s written for National Geographic Traveler, The Boston Globe, Saveur and others. Along the way, she’s interviewed some interesting food and ag folk. We thought it’d be fun to profile a few of those people here from time to time. Here’s the first.


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A few years back, I was sent to a little village in the Piedmont region of northern Italy to interview one of my longtime heroes, Carlo Petrini, the founder of the International Slow Food Movement. Petrini first came to prominence in 1986 when a McDonald’s opened near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Rather than embrace the advent of fast food in Italy, Petrini set about creating resistance to it. The result was Slow Food.



Lexy and the extraordinary Carlo Petrini.


Back then, Slow Food’s mission was to work against the disappearance of local food traditions. Since, the organization’s vision and membership have broadened and today it’s supported by more than 100,000 members in 150 countries, from Africa to Asia to the Americas. There’s even an international Slow Food Youth Network with chapters in Cuba, Mozambique, even Kazakhstan. Slow Food’s members work to promote good, clean and fair food. In other words, says Petrini, the food we eat should taste good, it should be produced in a way that doesn’t harm the environment or our health, and food producers should receive fair compensation for their work. Petrini believes that each consumer’s food choices have consequences all over the globe.


When I first heard about Petrini in the mid-1990s, I was pretty smitten with his work, but I never imagined I’d meet him. When I finally did, I found him to be laid-back, elegant in a down-to-earth kind of way, and—above all—passionate about the ideals that fuel his extraordinary endeavors. In addition to Slow Food, Petrini started the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which is where I met with him (and is where I’d attend college if I could do it all over again!).


For more information about Petrini and Slow Food’s efforts, click any links above. For information specifically about Slow Food in the United States, visit Slow Food USA.



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