Carlo Petrini’s Food & Freedom. How the Slow Food Movement is Changing the World Through Gastronomy (John Irving, trans. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2015).
This is an insightful and engaging read (with some redundancies near the end), which describes the chronology of Slow Food as a social movement and related institutional dimensions. The chronology, clear outline of conceptual and organizational issues, numerous illustrative national and community case studies, and linkages to other food movements (agricultural and environmental sustainability, right-to-food, anti-hunger, anti-globalization and anti-free trade) makes it a valuable addition to any food-policy or sustainable food systems syllabus or professional background readings.
In this lyrically written and adequately-referenced volume, Petrini constructs chronologies and links local, sustainable, and fair food movements in new ways. He is particularly sharp when critiquing the “wasteconomy”, his overarching term for conventional, globalizing food systems and commodification processes that judge food only by price without considering other (labor, environmental, biodiversity) characteristics and more humane, “right to food” dimensions of value: “It is incredible how a system designed to reduce diversity, increase productivity, and distribute efficiently from centralized structures manages to “lose food” at every turn…all this while a billion people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition” (p.89). His opening historical chapters remind the reader that the origins of the Slow Food movement, in 1986, coincided with and were motivated by three Italian-area environmental and food-system disasters that wreaked havoc on small farmers and their local products: (1) the case of the adulteration of Italian Piedmont wine with methanol that killed 23 and blinded many others; (2) the Chernobyl disaster, which raised the dangers of radioactive pollution in neighboring regions, and (3) multiple cases of atrazine (pesticide) poisoning in the Italian Po Valley. All raised questions about safety of farmers, consumers, and food systems, and the need for more reliable, “good, clean, fair” food chains that would make it uneconomic to engage in scandalous food-system activities.
Global Climate Change