The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy to combat fast food. It claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an eco-region. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement.
The movement has since expanded globally to over 83,000 members in 122 countries.
Slow Food began in Italy with the foundation of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish steps in Rome. The Slow Food organization spawned by the movement has expanded to include over 83,000 members with chapters in over 122 countries. All totaled, 800 local convivia chapters exist. 360 convivia in Italy — to which the name condotta (singular) / condotte (plural) applies — are composed of 35,000 members, along with 450 other regional chapters around the world. The organizational structure is decentralized: each convivium has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through regional events such as Taste Workshops, wine tastings, and farmers’ markets.
Offices have been opened in Switzerland (1995), Germany (1998), New York City (2000), France (2003), Japan (2005), and most recently in the United Kingdom. The head offices are located in Bra, near the famous city of Turin, northern Italy. Numerous publications are put out by the organization, in several languages. In the US, the Snail is the quarterly of choice, while Slow Food puts out literature in several other European nations. Recent efforts at publicity include the world’s largest food and wine fair, the Salone del Gusto in Turin , a biennial cheese fair in Bra called Cheese, the Genoan fish festival called SlowFish, and Turin’s Terra Madre (“Mother Earth”) world meeting of food communities.
In 2004 Slow Food opened a University of Gastronomic Sciences at Pollenzo, in Piedmont, and Colorno, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Carlo Petrini and Massimo Montanari are the leading figures in the creation of the University, whose goal is to promote awareness of good food and nutrition.