SlowFood: Anti-globalization strategy

Perform superficially, without first defining and planning, in today’s world, so sophisticated and fast, no longer works. The world of business, even that of non-profit, has become extremely competitive: it competes with a host of players that have the ability to penetrate distant markets very easily, thanks to the flow of information and to their access.

There is no longer the regional or national view, but it is constantly involved in a worldwide comparison. The competitive advantage no longer lies in having a superior product or service, but also innovative in putting constantly in practise innovative plans such as to maintain the lead. It is necessary to be structured, providing methodological processes that help to understand what to do, why and how, and possessing appropriate skills, knowledge and managerial techniques such as soft skills, which include basic subjects such as communication, team, risk, time, cost and speed management.

Strategic planning helps to analyse what one wants do and why verifying the feasibility; it helps to understand how to do something by planning, and ultimately it helps performing successfully, creating a path where an organization can express its executing experience and expertise.

Many authors, like Nutt, Backoff and Barry, argue that strategic planning can produce a number of benefits for organizations (Bryson 2004, p 11). In his famous guide to strengthening organizational achievement, Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, Bryson claims that the first and perhaps most obvious potential benefit is the promotion of strategic thinking, acting, and learning especially through dialogue and strategic conversation among key actors. The second is an improved decision making, since strategic planning focuses attention on the crucial issues and challenges the organization faces and helps key decision makers figure out what they should do about them. The third benefit is enhance organization effectiveness, which flows from the first two, and the fourth is that strategic planning can produce enhanced effectiveness of broader societal systems, seeing as most of the problem in these days stretch beyond any one organisation’s boundaries (Bryson 2004, p. 22). Finally, it can directly benefit the people involved, such as policymakers and key decision makers, fulfilling roles and responsibilities and improving teamwork and expertise.

In the light of this, I will focus on the analysis of strategy and future forecasts of the international nonprofit organization Slow Food that works to improving the way food is produced and distributed respecting territories and local traditions.

Brief historical overview

Slow Food is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It was the first established part of the broader Slow Movement. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 150 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

Slow Food began in Italy with the founding of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome. In 1989, delegates from 15 countries signed the founding Manifesto of the international Slow Food movement in Paris. This was done not so much as a protest against the restaurant chain but as a protest against big international business interests. Today, the Slow Food membership structure consists of 100,000 members in over 150 countries around the world, organized in more than 800 Convivia[1]  (territorial delegations). In Italy, there are about 35,000 members and Convivia (which in Italy are called Condotta/e) are 360, while in the rest of the world they are about 450.

The organizational structure is decentralized: each Convivium has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavours through regional events such as taste workshops, wine tastings, and farmers’ markets. An International Council and run by a Board International, elected every four years, coordinate the international Slow Food movement.

Basic agreements

According to the International Statute (2007), Slow Food is a democratic and cultural international association promoting individual growth and development based on social aims. Its fundamental missions are educating people to take pleasure in taste, to appreciate quality food, and understand gastronomic sciences; protecting biodiversity and the traditional food products associated with it (food cultures that respect ecosystems, the pleasure of food and human quality of life); promoting a new food model that respects the environment, traditions and cultural identities, that is able to bring consumers closer to the world of production, creating a virtuous network of international relationships and greater sharing of knowledge. Thus it resolves to create a network of local communities. A Slow Food local community is a group of individuals who share its philosophy and who plan to cultivate common cultural interests in the field of food.

Slow Food members are all the people who apply for a membership card and whose membership is accepted. They are stakeholder to all intents and purposes, since a stakeholder is defined as any person, group or organization that can place a claim on an organisation’s attention, resources, or output or that is effected by that output (Bryson 2004). Thus, Slow Food members have the right: to vote for or to be elected to any of the institutional structures of the Association according to the principle of a single vote, to approve the Balance Sheet, to participate in the Association assemblies and all its activities.

As regards the Slow Food institutional system, the organizational and management levels of the Association are: the International Congress, the International Executive Committee (composed of the International President, the International Board of Directors and the International Council), the National Board of Directors, (which has to be founded wherever a National Association has been established) and the Convivium.

The International Congressis the highest deliberative body of Slow Food and is held every four years. It is convened by the International Board of Directors in any part of the world and it can also be held at any time whenever necessary. It is responsible for discussing, defining and approving the Association’s policies and program of activities; sharing the social information; electing the bodies of the International Executive Committee as stated in this Statute; electing the Board of Auditors and the College of Guarantors; approving any changes to the Statutes, including the modification of the international Association’s headquarters and the dissolution or liquidation of the Association itself. The International Congress resolves on the simple majority of those present, on the condition of the participation of at least half of those who have the right to vote, either directly or by representative (in case of dissolution, liquidation or transfer of the Association’s assets a consensus of 80% of those who have the right to vote is required).

The International Executive Committee is the amalgam of the bodies that have the task of making decisions, creating consensus and running the international Association. It is made up of the International President, the International Board of Directors and the International Council. The bodies of the International Executive Committee remain in office for four years or until the nomination/election of new bodies.

The International President is elected by the International Congress and remains in office until the subsequent International Congress. He is the general legal representative for Slow Food in court and in dealings with third parties[2]. The International President nominates one or more Vice-Presidents, who are automatically members of the International Board of Directors.

The International Board of Directors is the highest governing body of the international Association and lasts for the four years between each International Congress. The International President is a member by right of the Board and chairs the Board. Also members by right of the Board are the Chairs or the highest executives of every National Board of Directors, as well as the International Secretary[3].

The International Secretary of the Association manages the implementation of the International Board of Director’s resolutions and undertaking the operational management of the international Association and recording the minutes of the International Board of Directors.

The International Council is the assembly, which represents the main forum for dialog between local Slow Food representatives regarding the main issues pertaining to the Association.  It is composed of members by right, proposed by the individual National Board of Directors, and members elected on the basis of the Congress regulations, taking into account the number of members in each nation or geographic area. A representative of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and one of the University of Gastronomic Sciences are also members of the International Council. A quota of no less than 10% of the members of the International Councillors must be reserved for representatives of food or learning communities, without any limits on the proportionate representation of the various countries or geographic areas. The International Council is convened by the International Board of Directors at least once a year for the approval of the annual final budget.

The National Board of Directors is the representative and coordinating body for all the members and all the organizational structures of the international Association present in a single country. It is established when a national Association or an analogous non-profit structure is founded by the members of Slow Food International within a single country. It is made up of representatives of the members as established in the national Statute and its tasks are[4]: to keep the Convivia informed of the Association’s strategic aims, main initiatives and national campaigns; to authorize the institution of new Convivia and determine the closure of inactive Convivia or the dissolution of Convivia with just cause; to send annually to the International Board of Directors the budget for the current financial year and the one following; to coordinate and organize national activities in agreement with individual national Statutes, and to define the membership procedure; to support the development of the international Association through its own financial resources; to establish relationships and collaborations with public bodies, gastronomic and/or environmental associations, non-governmental organizations, protective consortia, producer associations and communication media, in order to contribute to the development and awareness of quality food production.

Finally, the Convivium is the Association’s basic organizational structure within which members carry out the Association activities at the local level promoting the philosophy of the Association, developing around itself a local network of individuals, establishing relationships and collaborations with public bodies, gastronomic associations, protective consortia, producer associations and communication media, in order to contribute to the development of sustainable food systems and awareness about food production, collaborating with other associations or entities for the protection of the environment and respect for nature, a necessary condition for the safeguarding of gastronomic heritage, as well as the defence and the promotion of traditional knowledge and diverse forms of popular culture.

The general meeting of members of each individual Convivium is convened at least once a year for the approval of the Convivium’s financial report and program of activities, and it is governed by a Convivium Leader and a Convivium Committee.

International advisory bodies are created by decision of the International Council. They have the task of in-depth study, development and proposition of policies and strategies involving specific issues of interest to the Association, in such a way as to ensure they are managed in full conformity with the individual circumstances of each country. In addition, the Board of Auditors and the College of Guarantors are the bodies of guarantee and control.

Organizational mandates

The nature and meaning of necessary organizational mandates are both formal and informal. Formal mandates include policies, federal, state and local laws, administrative codes and regulations, election results and key stakeholders’ expectations: all issues that an organization that works worldwide as Slow Food faces with delicacy and serious consideration, in every country where it operates. Formal and informal mandates constrain Slow Food efforts to realize its strategic goals and provide the means to achieve those goals. It is important that an organization have a clear understanding of its current mandates, as well as their implications for future actions.

Anyway, the Slow Food core commitments are: educating the taste, nutrition, food sciences; preserve biodiversity and traditional food production related to it (food cultures that respect ecosystems, the pleasure of food and quality of life for men) and promoting a new model food, environment, traditions and cultural identities, incline consumers towards the world of production, creating a virtuous network of international relations and a greater sharing of knowledge.

It is noteworthy that other Slow Food’s mandates are making connections between consumers, chefs, food processors and producers of sustainable agricultural products; supporting and celebrating regional culinary identities; building public awareness of local farmers’ products and agricultural systems; promoting the concepts of equality and responsibility for our food system (Slow Food 2010a).

Organizational mission and value

As we have already seen, Slow Food (2007, p. 3) encourages individual growth and development based on social aims, with the mission of:

  1. Educate people to take pleasure in taste, to appreciate quality food, and understand gastronomic sciences.
  2. Protect biodiversity and the traditional food products associated with it: food cultures that respect ecosystems, the pleasure of food and human quality of life.
  3. Promote a new food model that respects the environment, traditions and cultural identities, one that is able to bring consumers closer to the world of production, creating a virtuous network of international relationships and greater sharing of knowledge.

Slow Food’s mission, along with its mandates, provides the organization most important justification for its existence.

As regards its values, we can say that pleasure can be considered the first one: material pleasure, which protects and promotes the organization, but also the pleasure of being together and share experiences (that means conviviality). The second one is the diversity, that means not only biodiversity, but also the specificity and worldwide Slow Food are key asset, essential, around which a community is founded, identifies itself and gets stronger. Complicity and fraternity are other non-negotiable values ​​for Slow Food: the feeling of brotherhood, seen as disinterested affection, makes relationship stronger building confidence and complicity. The ethical dimension, which is necessary in any human activity, is another fundamental social dimension. Even doubt and curiosity are necessary in Slow Food’s vision such as key to never stop asking questions, seeking answers and questioning. Finally, according to the Organization, the research, along with the pleasure of happiness and beauty (as a union of aesthetics and ethics), is the way to experience them together, like a precious common good to discover, preserve, share, give life, enrich and pass on to others.

The Good, Clean and Fair quality, as a commitment for a better future, is the basis of these values. Slow Food considers the quality an act of civilization and a tool to improve the current food system: everyone can contribute with their choices and individual behaviour.

External and internal environments

As we have seen previously, and as we will see later Slow Food structure is quite complex, since it is still developing through a network made up of a series of overlapping groups and entities[5] that work at local, national and international level.

Indeed, Convivia are local chapters that work autonomously to defend their culinary culture and to support a more sustainable food future, spreading the Slow Food philosophy and making it real. Nationally, seven countries have national branches that have been established to coordinate Slow Food activities, organizing events and projects with a deeper knowledge of the needs of their members. After Slow Food Italy, where the association was born, Slow Food branches were created in Switzerland, Germany, USA, UK, Japan and the Netherlands (2010b). Lastly, Slow Food International offices plans and promote the movement’s development worldwide, together with the association’s Board of Directors, elected at the Slow Food International Council and made up of representatives of countries with at least 500 members.

Therefore, it is evident how the organization faces a multitude of situations in entirely different contexts, since it has to monitor a variety of forces and trends, including the political, economic, social educational, technological and physical environmental ones to discern better opportunities and challenge. In this sense Slow Food has certainly to face more external than internal forces, trying to act in the best way according to the surrounding environment. Assuming that internal driving factors are those types of things, events, situations, that occur within an organization and effect it in either a positive or negative way, they are typically things that occur within the organization and are by-and-large under the control of the organization. A lack of performance information, for instance, presents problems both for the organization and for its stakeholders, who judge the organization according to the criteria they choose, which are not necessarily the same criteria that the corporate would choose. It is important also evaluate the relative effectiveness of alternative strategies, resource allocation, organizational design or distributions of power. Anyway, Slow Food, as a well-structured international organization through conferences and annual report attempts to maintain a high level of internal cohesion demostrating effective performance to its stakeholders.

External driving forces are rather those things, situations, events that occur outside of the organization and affect it in either a positive or negative way (for example, the overall economy, demographic changing, weather can effect organizations such as farmers, and catastrophes such as flooding, earthquakes etc. can effect all organizations). This occurs outside of the organization, and beyond the control of the organization, and it could affect it in either a negative or positive way.

Anyhow, Slow Food gives broad freedom of self-management and self-organization to its organs, since these are more immediately aware of the reality around them and of the opportunities and weaknesses that characterize the surrounding environment. In the other hand, Slow Food strives to ensure that its bodies fulfill the same rules and aims, promoting the philosophy of the Association, developing a local network of individuals who share the principles of Slow Food and work for their diffusion, establishing relationships and collaboration with public bodies, gastronomic associations, protective consortia, producer associations and communication media, in order to contribute to the development of sustainable food systems and awareness about food production, collaborating with other associations or entities for the protection of the environment and respect for nature, a necessary condition for the safeguarding of gastronomic heritage, as well as the defense and the promotion of traditional knowledge and diverse forms of popular culture, implementing activities of promotion and support for the Association’s international and national projects and programs.

Strategic issues

Fundamental policy questions or critical challenge affecting the organization’s mandates, mission and values, product or service level mix, clients, users or payers, costs, financing, structure, processes and management are all strategic issues.

The following are the most worrying problems that Slow Food aims to solve considering their primary importance in its strategic plan (Slow Food 2011).

Inequality is the first strategic issue that the Organization considers should deal, since the present direct payment system would be especially unfair for two reasons: first, payments are not distributed uniformly among the various agrifood producers[6]. Secondly, the direct payment system is also unfair in its distribution of resources among Member States. In compliance with the research of the company, the system implicitly keeps alive the “old” trend for community aid to benefit large-scale producers, without providing an adequate backup to the people namely sustainable small and medium-scale producers who really need to receive it.

The second issue that must be addressed strategically refers to injustice. The general food world scenario would be, according to FAO’s statistics reported in the Slow Food Policy Paper (2011, p. 4), paradoxical: of a total population of 7 billion people, 925 million are undernourished (FAO, 2010), 1.5 billion adults are overweight (OMS, 2008) and 1.3 billion tons of food, the equivalent of about 1/3 of world production, are wasted every year (FAO 2011). This situation is unacceptable and represents one of the most serious injustices perpetrated in the contemporary world.

Unemployment and the drop in jobs in the agriculture sector represents another worrying phenomenon determined, to some extent, by agricultural policies is the drop in employment in the agriculture sector. The drive towards higher and higher productivity, based solely on increases in productive factors other than human labour, would have caused a swingeing decrease in employment. As direct consequence of the liberalisation of the farming market and the race to lower production costs, production is being concentrated where costs are lowest.

Another issue to be faced is the inadequacy of farmers’ income and price injustice. Indeed, farmers’ and farm workers’ incomes are lower than that earned in other sectors. Insufficient income remains one of the decisive factors behind the disappearance of many agricultural products, especially in areas in which production costs are higher. At present the income of producers is highly dependent on the direct payment system and market price no longer ensures fair pay for producers. With the opening up of markets, the benchmark price has become the world price, which fails to reflect the productive reality of the majority of the farmers. For Instance, while producing in Europe entails high costs, prices are disconnected from costs and are too low to provide decent returns for producers. Furthermore, payments to producers fail to take into account the environmental services rendered by farming or by high food safety standards.

Lastly, the consequences of international price instability—a dramatic phenomenon over recent years—can be severe. Periods of high prices cause inflation, harming producers and consumers alike. Likewise, periods of low prices prevent producers from earning a high enough income to carry on their businesses, often causing them to go bankrupt and leave the countryside. Market instability has been aggravated by the progressive elimination of measures designed to regulate the market and phenomena such as speculation on food markets. Volatile prices, which set off food riots in over 30 countries, bars the most economically vulnerable populations and import dependent countries from access to food.

The agrifood production determines also factors that can have a strong influence on the environment and climate problems. The industrial agrifood model that has made Europe and large-scale producers rich over the last 50 years is, at the same time, a cause of the pollution, in part irreversible, of water, land and soil with consequent damage to public health, soil fertility, rural prosperity and so on. The paradigm of this agro-industrial model is the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, such as land, water sources, forests and seas. It was precisely thanks to these resources that growth was possible, but for a long time they were underestimated from an ethical and economic point of view. The current state of some natural resources is a cause of great concern. First of all, it is now evident how pollution and, above all, the depletion of water sources, due to phenomena such as the alteration of the perennial glacier system, deforestation, indiscriminate consumption, the rise of water levels and the consequent reduction of sources of fresh water, will be a major factor of tension in the decades to come. Another priority is the loss of land, since the farming land is decreasing in quantity and quality due to unsustainable exploitation, climate change, pollution, contamination and indiscriminate overbuilding.

The problems of the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of ecosystems deserve a special mention. Intensive agriculture and agroindustrial methods have contributed to this process through a massive use of pesticides, pollution, a drastic drop in the number of vegetable varieties cultivated and animal breeds raised and the privatisation of seeds.

Local vegetable varieties and animal breeds are the most suited to the soil and climate conditions of the area to which they have become acclimatized down the centuries thanks to human intervention, and it is in that area that they best express their potential. This is why they are particularly resistant and require fewer external interventions. They are thus more sustainable from the environmental and economic points of view.

Although not everyone is aware of the fact, agriculture and, in general, the food are one of the decisive factors in climate change. In parallel, agriculture is one of the activities which climate change is going to influence the most: phenomena such as higher temperatures, drought, the shift of fertile zones towards the poles and flooding will all have serious repercussions on agricultural production. Agriculture (including livestock breeding, notoriously the cause of a high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions), food production and food marketing consume more fossil energy than any other industrial sector.

In the matter of food and public health, the growth rates of the obesity percentages are a serious cause for concern: obesity is, in fact, a risk factor for numerous health problems. The effects of malnutrition, obesity and overeating are not only serious from the public health point of view, but may also have severe repercussions on a country’s health budget. The factors that contribute to obesity are manifold, but among the main ones are overeating and unbalanced diets. The relationship between people and food production, processing and consumption has been progressively lost. The simplification and standardisation of food production, processing and consumption methods, for the sake of greater “speed” and globalisation, seen as mere homologation, has progressively eroded food culture, which used to be a common heritage, and imposed “price” as the main criterion for making choices and, as a consequence, for organising one’s diet. On the one hand, this has signified the debasement of the role of food, which no longer represents an essential resource worthy of respect, since it can be consumed in excess (overeating) or, on the contrary, wasted without immediately visible consequences. On the other hand, it has caused consumers to opt for cheaper foods, often of poor quality. As Slow Food has been explaining for years, producing good, clean and fair food has its costs. A low price is often made possible by the use in the production process of industrial methods that allow production costs to be cut, through methods obviously typical of the large scale. Last of all, if we consider that food produced by agroindustry is easily available through large-scale retail channels, it is easy to see how the agrifood system itself is at the forefront in encouraging improper diets and the consumption of low quality food.

The lowest income brackets are evidently the most “exposed” to cheap, poor quality food. Another injustice within this framework, unmentioned so far, is that healthy quality food is implicitly seen as the “select” privilege of the higher income brackets. Food quality is, instead, an essential component of the right to food. For this reason Slow Food claims that everybody, regardless of wealth, is entitled to healthy, nutritious, quality food.

Formulated Strategies to manage the issues

Since a strategy can be defined as a pattern of purpose, program, actions, decisions or resource allocations that define what an association is, what it does and why it does it, Slow Food manages as well its issues in several ways.

Indeed, one of the cornerstones of the Slow Food philosophy is the need to adopt a holistic approach to agricultural production and the food world in general. Goals such as the protection of biodiversity and the environment, the fight against climate change, the development of local economies and small-scale production, but also of local knowledge, dialects and arts, should be interpreted as pieces in a single mosaic and not as separate, disconnected from one another. According with the Slow Food policy (2007), each goal should be framed and achieved as part of an overall strategy that takes all the other elements into account simultaneously, because food becomes the fulcrum around which the systems of the local economy rotate. Besides, Slow Food is inspired by the principle of food sovereignty (2010a), concept that identifies the right of people, States and unions of States to define their own agricultural and food policies without bowing down to improper and destructive trade practices such as dumping. This principles comprises, among other things, the promotion of local agricultural production, access to natural resources, the fight against genetically modified organisms and the patentability of living organisms, agricultural prices linked to production costs, the right of States to protect themselves against cheap food imports, the recognition of the role of women, participation and the drawing up of agricultural policies.

From the point of view of agrofood production, the protection and development of small and medium scale agriculture, local economies and rural areas is the first purpose that Slow Food has taken. Indeed, a local food production system has the advantage of supplementing healthy and nutritious food with social responsibility, of prioritising ecological systems, of bringing about the elimination or drastic reduction of chemical products and of helping to preserve traditional techniques and knowledge. Moreover, local food is fresher, protects local varieties and species (not to mention traditional production methods), travels fewer miles and requires less packaging. It also allows producers and consumers to have greater control over and more information about production and distribution systems.

In respect of this, support for agricultural produces’ income is a vital element in the agrifood system. It allows products to survive and gives people involved in the sector a decent livelihood. Without any chance of a decent income, producers leave the countryside for the city, tending to concentrate in geographical areas in which production is economically viable. It is for this reason that Slow Food pledges to help farmers make a profit for their work and be rewarded for the essential environmental services they render.

In connection with the agrifood issue is the matter of the protection of traditional seed varieties. As mentioned above, industrial agriculture is based on a small number of new varieties, often hybrids, owned by very few multinational corporations (for example, 9o% of the world corn and soya seed market is controlled by three multinationals[7] because the development and diffusion of genetic selection devised to create hybrid commercial varieties has led to the phenomenon of seed privatisation). Hence Slow Food is committed to recovering traditional and local seeds in a bid to protect and reassert the right to exchange them and acknowledge the intellectual property of the peasant communities that have developed and conserved them.

Continuing on this theme, Slow Food defends traditional knowledge, which is a source of wisdom and knowhow, the basis of technical and scientific learning and which, if it is suitably protected, can become a vital element in local economic systems, signalling useful and precious values for the solution of on going problems[8]. Consequently, since, Communities are running the risk of losing their traditions and their resources, Slow Food believes it is vital to acknowledge ethnodiversity and the values behind it so that it becomes an important, democratic cultural strategy for a rethink of consumption and food production practices.

To conclude the issues strictly connected with food, it is necessary to talk about the animal welfare, forasmuch as intensive industrial breeding has given rise to numerous new pathologies, also because stressed animals fall sick more than others. Slow Food advocates breeding techniques respectful of animal welfare (2011). More precisely, it advocates the raising of native breeds (hardier and better adapted to local areas) and encourages forms of breeding that avoid the excessive concentration of stock (overcrowding causes a number of problems, especially behavioural); it advocates animal feed based on quality OGM-free raw materials and, where possible, the practice of daily pasture (in a wild or semi-wild state).

Moving on to the environmental issue, the first one concerned the biodiversity protection. Biodiversity is the combination of the ecosystems and living beings that populate our planet and it is vital for the survival of the human race and the attainment of food security. Its ties with the characteristics of the local area, allow agriculture, its techniques, harvesting and processing methods, cooking and food consumption and convivial rites to develop and evolve, since it is closely connected with community identity[9]. Slow Food has been involved with biodiversity for years, focusing its attention not only on wild species, but also on domestic species and the food diversity of processed products. Today, biodiversity, in all its forms, is seriously threatened by intensive and superspecialised agricultural systems, pollution, overbuilding and by the workings of the global market. Slow Food promotes the protection of domestic biodiversity, first and foremost through knowledge (the mapping of traditional products, native breeds and local vegetable varieties and ecotypes), subsequently through the support and promotion of the respective supply chains (cultivation, breeding, processing).

Still in reference to the environmental issue is the natural resource conservation question, since the industrial agrifood model has led to the indiscriminate exploitation of resources such as fertile soil, water sources, seas, forests in the belief that they are inexhaustible. This productive model is also responsible for high levels of pollution, largely on account of its use of chemical products such as fertilisers. Slow Food firmly believes that it should be increased responsibility and parsimony sense in natural resource management (2011).

Assuming that the food system is one of the root causes of climate change, which is one of the toughest world challenges, if humanity fails to devise tools to tackle it, it will be impossible to avoid huge damage to the planet’s economies. Agriculture and food production, transport and marketing consume more fossil energy than any other industrial sector, but not all agricultural systems have a negative effect on climate change. On the contrary, the abandonment of an industrial agrifood system and the practice of sustainable agriculture can play a very important role in fighting and preventing it. This type of agriculture depends less on fossil fuels, adopts techniques which make it possible to retain humidity and carbon dioxide in the soil, defends soil from erosion, slows down desertification and stands out for its better water resource management. This is the agriculture Slow Food advocates; thanks to the techniques it deploys, it renders a service in the fight against climate change.

Regarding the energy question, Slow Food claims that the energy necessary for agrifood production must be supplied largely by renewable resources, but it also believes this should be done by delocalising centres of electricity production, short energy supply chains and small-scale plants.

The traditional rural landscape is another distinctive feature, as well as an essential component of the cultural identity of all the continents’ populations, that, under pressure from socio-economic processes, is also extremely vulnerable. More specifically, urbanization and indiscriminate development are causing vast areas of the rural landscape to disappear, even if the traditional rural landscape is an economic, social and cultural heritage without equal. In view of agriculture’s role in shaping and maintaining it, protecting and preserving this landscape should be a priority of agricultural policy. Aware that conservation is decisive for sustainable development and innovation in society, Slow Food believes that the protection and improvement of the landscape should be important driving forces of development in rural areas.

Another relevant issue is the promotion of agricultural labour and young people, restoring value to agricultural labour, since Slow Food believes that the capacity of the sector could become an important source of employment and that the international crisis, in which employment is shrinking, can find satisfactory solutions in this sector in particular. In parallel, Slow Food pledges to see that farmers are recognised the social role they deserve, because with agroindustry, the knowledge inherent to the job of being a farmer risks being completely lost, along with its dignity. It is also vital for food policies to bring young people back to the countryside, giving back agriculture the dignity it deserves in society, thus making it a feasible and respectable life choice for the younger generations. According with Slow Food, it is absolutely vital to provide concrete responses to questions such as the difficulties young people find in having access to land and credit, drops in income and the unpredictability of the market (2011).

Co-production and a new approach to consumption are other two aims of the Slow Food strategy. Strengthening the producer-consumer relationship is becoming an issue no longer negligible. The lack of interaction between those who produce food and those who buy it provokes serious consequences, such as a decreased sense of mutual responsibility, the erosion of an important baggage of knowledge and the impossibility for consumers to access information[10]. Food is now regarded as a consumer good just like any other, stripped of the spiritual, cultural and immaterial values that actually make it a “unique” asset of outright importance. In a food system increasingly influenced by mere market logics, the belief has made headway that food has got to cost little, regardless of its intrinsic value. “Food value” has been supplanted by “food price”. Slow Food has been committed for years to reversing this logic through concrete projects designed to bring the two ends of the supply chain together to rebuild the relationship between producer and consumer, give food back the value it deserves and make price reflect that value and food’s intrinsic qualities once more.

Due to the weakening of the link between producer and consumer, the latter has been totally ejected from productive processes, even if his buying power actually has the power to strongly influence supply and production methods. To exploit this possibility awarely, the consumer should give up any passive attitudes and show an active interest in food and the people who produce it, the methods they use and the problems they address. By actively supporting producers, consumers can become an integral part of the productive process: Slow Food has coined the term “co-producer” to describe this new consumer model. By regaining awareness of their choices and forging a direct link with their food and the people who produce it, co-producers can recognise food’s value and pay for it appropriately. For this reason Slow Food would actively recreate a profitable link between producer and consumer, while promoting a more informed responsible attitude on either side.

Finally, there is the sustainable diet topic. Consumer choices have a huge impact on the entire agricultural and food system hold a lot of power: thanks to increased awareness of the value of their choices, they are in a position to redirect the market and production. Slow Food wants consumers to assume a more responsible, informed attitude, and to achieve that it promotes the diffusion of knowledge of the effects food choices have on health, the environment and the productive system.

In this sense, the rediscovery of the pleasure of taste is a topic directly connected.

The prevailing food model is standardised, supported by a system (of production, distribution and communication) that proposes the consumption of products disconnected from any cultural and geographical production context. The younger generations in particular risk losing not only a connection with the land and a sense of the seasons, but also the very pleasure of the act of eating. Through taste education the consumer learns to recognise and appreciate diversity and value of food by understanding its origin, production methods and the people involved. In the Slow Food opinion, an informed consumer is in a position to connect the pleasure of food to responsibility in choosing it and, for this reason, “to educate” means creating debate around and providing direct knowledge of the world of food, supplying tools for healthy, aware food choices and stimulating more sustainable consumer behaviour.

Finally, the fight against waste is necessary to counter, through concrete measures, the trends indicated by the projections of future that assert that by 2020, the number of millions of tons of food wasted each year will reach 126 (2011, p. 7). Slow Food is actively committed to promoting a new consumer attitude towards food (since consumers are the main culprits for waste), and a fresh awareness that restores to food the value and importance it deserves.

Strategic projects

Slow Food, as international eco-gastronomic association, has its first aim in changing the day-to-day relationship between people and food through the principles of good, clean and fair (2010b). “Good” refers to the pleasure deriving from the quality of a food’s flavour and aroma, as well as the complex feelings, memories and sense of identity it evokes. “Clean” refers to the promotion of products respectful of ecosystems and the environment. “Fair refers to concern for proper returns for producers and equitable social relations in production ambits and the marketing system.

In order to realize its projects, Slow Food has created three additional entities: the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, the Terra Madre Foundation and the Association of the Friends of the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

The first one was founded in 2003 in partnership with the Tuscany Regional Authority to support Slow Food’s projects to defend, promulgate and promote food biodiversity and traditions by working with groups of producers, with a particular focus on developing countries. To protect biodiversity Slow Food’s non-profit Foundation for Biodiversity coordinates and organizes projects in support of small producers through Presidia, Earth Markets, the Ark of Taste and A Thousand Gardens in Africa. The first Presidia came into being in 1999 and now number over 300 in Italy and more than 50 in the rest of the world. The Presidia involve the Food Communities and defend native livestock breeds, plant varieties and processed foodstuffs, such as bread, cheese, cured meats, wine and so on. They sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods and safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. The Presidia should directly involve producers, offer technical assistance to improve production quality, organize exchanges among different countries and provide new market outlets (both locally and internationally). The aim is to save high quality traditional artisan products by organising producers, raising the profile of areas of origin, preserving traditional techniques and knowledge and promoting sustainable production models from an environmental and social point of view.

The aim of Earth Markets project is instead to set up an international network of farmers’ markets that are also meeting places where consumers can find out more and meet producers. An Earth Market hosts only small-scale farmers and artisan producers who only sell their own products. Products are local, seasonal, made with sustainable techniques, respectful of the environment and sold at prices that pay producers fairly and are transparent for consumers. Slow Food provides technical assistance at every stage of the project.

The Ark of Taste, created in 1996, catalogues and selects products at risk of extinction all over the plane. The idea is to protect an outstanding cultural, social and economic treasure, made up of unwritten peasant and artisan testimonies, packed with age-old knowledge and techniques. Thanks to the research work of experts on 19 national commissions, to date it has collected 1,000 products in 60 countries. Finally, A Thousand Gardens in Africa is the project launched at the 2010 Terra Madre event in Turin. Thanks to international mobilisation, a thousand school, community and urban gardens will be set up in 27 African countries in 2011-2012. These will be no normal gardens; in them, local communities will prioritise traditional produce (vegetables, fruit, aromatic and medicinal herbs), use sustainable and draw on the knowledge of the elderly.

As just mentioned, the Terra Madre Foundation was founded in 2004 to give a voice and visibility to the small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans around the world whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities. The network brings them together with academics, cooks, consumers and youth groups so that they can join forces in working to improve the food system. The term food community refers to a group of these producers, defined by a place of origin and reflecting a new idea of ‘local economy’ based on food, agriculture, tradition and culture. More than 2,000 Terra Madre food communities have been formed around the world. National and regional Terra Madre networks have grown from the grassroots level and are working with Slow Food Convivia to increase the capacity of local communities to provide good, clean and fair food. National Terra Madre meetings have been organized in many countries including Brazil, Sweden, Ireland, The Netherlands and Tanzania. A wide variety of activities at the local level focus on sharing information and promoting better approaches to food production: from a group of South American academics working to promote eco-agriculture to an exchange between Ugandan and Kenyan farming communities or a bicycle tour of local small-scale farms in Canada. Through these activities to strengthen and defend local food cultures, the Terra Madre family is growing every day, making the Slow Food concept of good, clean, and fair reality in partnership with the City of Turin, the Piedmont Regional Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestries and Italian Cooperation for Development-Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foundation organizes the Terra Madre event in Turin every two years and is supporting the growth of a global network which brings together everyone keen to act to preserve, encourage and promote methods of sustainable farming, fishing, breeding and food production techniques in harmony with nature, the landscape and tradition. The first nodes in this network were the food communities, which were subsequently joined by chefs and cooks, representatives of the academic world, young people and musicians from 160 countries. During the main event in Turin, members of the network get to know each other, talk and find out about common problems, since local experiences emerge as possible solutions to be replicated elsewhere.

Slow Food was, finally, behind the creation of the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) in Pollenzo, near Bra, in Italy, which has offered a multidisciplinary academic program in food studies since 2004, and formed the Association of the Friends of the University of Gastronomic Sciences to support its development. Unique of its kind, the university aims to add academic dignity to food and eating as complex and multidisciplinary phenomena. UNISG is also another way in which Slow Food brings together the innovations and research of the academic and scientific world and the traditional knowledge of farmers and food producers.

Remaining on the fundamental topic of the food education and taste, it should be pointed that for Slow Food educating means promoting the pleasure of food among young people, adults and children, the rediscovery of conviviality, awareness of buying choices and respect for the seasons. It means promoting the diversity of flavours and places through courses, events, seminars, games, awareness-raising campaigns and publications. With the Master of Food courses for adults, school gardens and Taste Workshops during its events, Slow Food draws the general public to food and taste education by playing with the senses and giving rein to creativity.

Regarding the events, it should be recalled the Salone Internazionale del Gusto, that is a biennial market organised in Turin in collaboration with the Piedmont Regional Authority and the City of Turin. Open to the public, it gives space and exposure to quality food and wine from all over the world. At events within the event such as the Taste Workshops, Dinner Dates, World Cuisines, Dinner Dates, the Theatre of Taste and the Marketplace, visitors can live a total experience in what has been defined the “global village of food”. Than Cheese is a major biennial event dedicated to quality cheese from all over the world. It was held for the ninth time in September 2011 and it hosts a large open-air market in the town’s streets and squares, showcasing Slow Food dairy produce presidia and educational initiatives to teach people to appreciate milk in all its shapes and forms. Slow Fish is an international exhibition devoted to fish and sustainable fishing organised by Slow Food in Genoa. At Slow Fish, educational events, Taste Workshops, the marketplace and conferences address the problems of wetlands, freshwater habitats and the sea. The exhibition was held for the fifth time in 2011. 


The international association receives most of its funding from membership fees and contributions from sponsors. Contributions from the Salone del Gusto and other international events provide funds, and revenue from merchandise and book sales also contribute to Slow Food’s financing. The seven Slow Food national associations receive membership fees, as well as additional funds from other sources, such as sponsors and institutions. Slow Food Italy, the oldest national association, boasts the most developed forms of fundraising, including the for-profit publishing house Slow Food Editor. Another Slow Food for-profit branch is Slow Food Promotions, which organizes major events, sells advertising space in its publications and sources sponsors that comply with the Slow Food philosophy. In accordance with the statute (2007), Slow Food Editor and Slow Food Promotion reinvest all income into the organization. Slow Food’s fundraising guidelines are based on mutual understanding and shared philosophy to create long-term partnerships with donors and sponsors. Donors and sponsors cannot conduct activities that conflict with the movement’s philosophy, and Slow Food conserves total autonomy over its own choices and activities (2010b).

Regarding with the membership fees, they are divided between the Convivia and the various offices of Slow Food’s international headquarters, which provide membership benefits. On a local level, they are used to plan Convivium activities and internationally, they are used to fund projects for biodiversity. Once a national association is established, the membership fee goes to support it, while the national association, in turn, supports Slow Food International.

Financial statement and future forecast

The international economy recession between the end of 2008 and early 2010 affected also those believing in Slow Food and supporting its initiatives, adversely impacting the Association’s financial condition (2010b). In 2010 the Association closed the activities of some projects started in 2009 and launched new projects with total direct costs of about € 376,422 while receiving about € 484,832 of revenue. The Association’s capital and reserves stand at € 385,652.

The year 2010 was marked by the Terra Madre event held in Turin; Slow Food was actively and prominently involved, providing the Terra Madre Foundation with professional skills and organizational support. The collaborative relationship was governed by a financial agreement which provided for the payment of € 700,000 to Slow Food for its services. Examining the assets side of balance sheet, it can be seen that the value of fixed assets did not change greatly from 2009, but there were significant shifts in the value of receivables and liquid funds. Receivables increased by about € 460,000, or 32%; this rise is mainly due to the payment from the Terra Madre Foundation, together with other funds still to be received.

Income for the 2010 financial year was € 2,181,993 compared to € 2,193,328 in the previous year. Compared to 2009, receipts from membership fees fell by 14% or € 131,000, due to the reduction in the share of fees paid by Slow Food Italy which fell from € 320,000 to € 130,000; this difference will be made up in the next two years but contributions from other National Boards remained similar to 2009. However the contribution from Slow Food Australia (€ 23,812 in 2009) was removed from the 2010 accounts since the Australian National Board was closed down in 2010. By contrast, an increase in membership fee income was registered in the rest of the world, from € 190,000 in 2009 to € 220,000 in 2010. The item “Revenue from projects” saw a significant increase of 36% (€ 128.802)[11].

Operating expenses totalled € 2,181,794 in the 2010 financial year, compared to € 2,080,632 in 2009. It can be seen that total expenses in 2010 increased by 5% compared to 2009. If the individual items are examined we see that expenses for institutional activities are the same in the last year. The costs of communication were around € 89,634, a drop of € 158,000 compared to 2009, or 64%. This significant reduction was due to general cost cutting in all communication items. However, the item for project expenses increased by 81% or € 77,755. This was due to an increase from € 50,000 to € 100,000 in the contribution made to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, an increase of about € 15,000 in expenses for Terra Madre. By contrast there was a reduction in Education of around € 14,500. The item “Funded projects” saw a rise of about € 190,000 or 107%, but this increase has to be assessed in the light of the increase in corresponding revenues. Anyway the surplus created in the financial year is carried forward increasing the surpluses from previous years.

The financial prospects for 2011 are slightly better for about half the year and it is expected that the Terra Madre Foundation will pay the Association the € 700,000 agreed by the Convention. This would mitigate and help to reduce the effects of global financial exposure.

Indeed, looking to the future, Slow Food International and the Terra Madre network are going to be more integrated (2011). Slow Food has allowed Terra Madre to take off and become the widespread network it is today, but equally the Terra Madre communities have managed to bring the Slow Food association to new places and strengthen it where previously it had only a marginal presence. But this relationship need to be slightly more structured, without ever losing the specificities that have so far characterized the shared work for good, clean and fair food in the world. Slow Food and Terra Madre are two subjects that will likely participate in the next Slow Food International Congress as fully integrated equals, because they are each other’s vehicle. They are joined by shared values and they are both moving in exactly the same direction, making them a single, united, strong subject, able to reorient food and agriculture policies at both a local or national level and a supranational level. The coming years will be crucial for the future of global food policy, with the new Farm Bill in the United States scheduled for 2012 and the new European CAP[12] for 2013 and Slow Food is accredited with the relevant institutions as an authoritative subject for the preparation of these policies. The organization is already hard at work with the communities so that they take action on this front and it is setting out the groundwork with the institutions. At the same time, Slow Food believes that the growth of the Youth Food Movement, the ‘youth wing’ of Slow Food and Terra Madre (2010a), is vital to our future, and thus it will be supported and nourished around the world, encouraging young people to get involved in all of the major projects of the association and the network. Young people should get personally engaged and look forward at how to change the global food system over the long-term future. A first step will be the Thousand Gardens in Africa, which Slow Food will use to lay the first foundation stones of a renaissance of the continent that we believe will make the most progress in sustainability in coming decades, since Africa can return to producing food for all its people, guaranteeing food sovereignty with its own human resources and its own biodiversity.

Critiques to the Movement

A majority of the Slow Food Movement critics point out that it is a bastion of liberal elitism, like an insular network of people driven by a desire to justify their own opulence as morally and politically egalitarian, even while the cost of their events and the nature of their philosophy exclude the vast majority of the world (Anon. 2011). In its best form, Slow Food is an effort to escape the strictures imposed by a monetary scale of value and it implies a personal stance explicitly at odds with the idea that the trophies of capitalism (wealth, efficiency, speed, opulence) make a good life. Life can clearly hold more profound pleasures, some of which can be found in the enjoyment of a slow meal. It needn’t necessarily be a matter of wealth.

It has been also said that the Slow Food does not address the ideas of class disparity and how that challenges people’s chance of obtaining its goals. Petrini (2001) points out that the amount of money we have truly pushes us towards buying local produce or growing our own. It could be add to his argument that it is our acceptance of the principles of ‘wanting more’, that pushes people towards consuming processed foods rather than whole foods. The problem with our society is that we are concerned with the amount of calories we can intake for the cheapest price and we are often not educated in what foods would be better even on a smaller calories scale. As mentioned earlier, Petrini (2001) also states as one of the Ark of Taste’s long-term goals is the synthesis of quality and affordability.

Another critique to the Movement is that it does not address the ideas of genderization and racism regarding food. Maybe it does not directly address these ideas because the movement should not have to address them. There should not be a genderization of food, nor a race/ethnicity association. In regards to race/ethnicity, Petrini (2001) advocates the tasting of every variety of food in its place of origin; it could be argued that he believes that the ethnic association with food would not be an issue since we would be in an ethnic culture, which could be not a so wrong idea.

To conclude, there would be another factor to point out: the market, in this globalised regime, caters to the consumer. Thus, if everyone in the world demanded foods that cater to the principles of the Slow Food Movement, then the market would be forced to adjust, improving local production. Since companies have moved their production outside, because producing materials is cheaper in impoverished countries, the globalization of the world has led to a decrease in jobs in most developed countries. Catering to the call for local production would give more jobs to local populations as well as keep money circulating within the local community.



To summarise how Slow Food works, it can be said that its initiatives are based on the capacity of the Organisation and its representatives, normally volunteers, to act as ‘integrators’ between producers, local administrations, informed consumers and specialised outlets, and to link local networks to broader networks. Each of the Slow Food Presidia has its own particular history, but most have developed from the identification of a local product with added-value potential by a local Slow Food group; working together with producers, Slow Food then embarks on a value-adding project (for example, to restore a local breed, deal with problems related to hygiene rules, or improve organoleptic characteristics), while also putting the local group in touch with local institutions, the mass media, experts and specialised outlets within the Slow Food network. Than, to qualify as a Slow Food Presidium, producers must also re-qualify their product, specifying its quality characteristics and their particular code of practice. Slow Food and producers work together also to exhibit their product at trade fairs (particularly the Salone del Gusto). Besides, the participation to this kind of event provides producers with useful contacts, developing also their sense of self-esteem through interaction with visitors and other producers and motivating them to continue with the project. The reputation gained by products within the Slow Food network paves the way for relevant relocalization strategies by intensifying participation in farmers’ markets, trade fairs and on farm selling activities. Slow Food asks producers to conform to a clearly defined code of practice, but it, itself, is not a commercial label: its mission is neither to sell nor to certify products, but to raise consumer awareness of the value of local products (Brunori 2008).

It could be said that the social structure in capitalist and globalized countries demands that a movement such as Slow Food exists, since the usefulness of the principles of the Movement like good, clean and fair food, protecting biodiversity, promoting education and sustainable growing practices and developing an acceptance of pleasure in relation to food. These principles combat industrial practices that are leading down a path that will deplete resources and destroy biodiversity. They also address social structures that cause a love-hate relationship with food and poor education (both in regards to what our system does to the earth and ourselves, as well as to ancient knowledge of edible foods and artisanal production).

On the other hand the quick spread to other countries shows that these factors are present around the world. This is truly worrisome from a structural functionalist point of view because it means that the interconnected parts are following the wrong path; however, the Slow Food Movement can aid in correcting that path.

The movement is not just about juxtaposing fast food with slow food: it could be a way to change our life to suit that of the earth, a way to regain the regional knowledge that connects us with the life sustaining food and sustainable practices that will allow the human population to prosper for years to come and a way to find oneself through pleasure in food, taste, and company, as well as a chance to take time and reflect.

Despite the critiques to the Movement, I truly believe that its principles can help to save the Earth, which the capitalist society has begun to destroy with the Industrial Revolutions by promoting quantity over all else.

Quality over quantity could truly be the answer to many of our problems.




Anonymous, 2011. The Slow Food Movement. Kontano.

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Bryson, J. M., 2004. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. 3th edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brunori, G.. 2008. Local food and alternative food networks: a communication perspective. Anthropology of food.

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Haas, E.. 2009. The future of food. Can Slow Food move beyond its elitist image? Culinate

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Slow Food, November 2007. Statuto Internazionale, V° Congresso Internazionale. Puebla, Messico

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Slow Food, 2011. Financial Statements 2010. Bra, Italy.

Available from: G_20 10.PDF [Accessed 15 March 2012].

Slow Food, 2010. Le conseguenze del piacere. Documento congressuale 2010 – 2014. Torino, Italy.

Available from: [Accessed 12 March 2012].

Slow Food, 2011. Towards a New Common Agricultural Policy. Slow Food Policy Paper.

Available from: FU LL.pdf [Accessed 16 March 2012].

Gullion, S.. 2011. Quality over quantity: An analysis of the Slow Food Movement. Todaysthv.

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the united nations (2010), The State of Food Insecurity in the World.

Petrini, C.. 2007. Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should be Good, Clean, and Fair. New York: Rizzoli International Publications.

Petrini, C.. 2001. Slow Food: The Case for Taste. New York: Columbia University Press.

[1] A Convivium is the Association’s basic organizational structure within which members carry out the Association activities at the local level.

[2] The International President has the following functions: convener and chair of the International Board of Directors; propose to the International Congress the candidates to be elected for the International Board of Directors; appoint the International Secretary; propose to the International Council the possible replacements for members of the International Board of Directors who for whatever reason have ceased to carry out their functions; monitor the normal functioning of the bodies of the International Executive Committee; exercise the task of delegation and external relations pertaining to the President’s functions; participate, with voting rights, in the meetings of every National Board of Directors, in person or via a representative; participate by right in all the National Congresses, in person or via a representative.

[3] The International Board of Directors is also responsible for taking care of the ordinary and extraordinary administration of the international Association; preparing the balances and the social information; deciding the annual and four-year action plans and estimated budgets; reviewing the activities and decisions taken by the various National Board of Directors to ensure compliance with the Association’s policies; deciding on the removal from office of any local, national or international executive, in the event that he or she is not performing their duties or is organizing or running activities considered by the Committee to be damaging, incompatible or in opposition to Slow Food; approving regulations containing the principles and means of administrative management and the Association’s book-keeping, as well as the drawing up, announcing and approval of the Association’s budgets; approving regulations and protocols for the running of the Association’s local, national and international bodies and activities.

[4] And also: to implement the resolutions of International Congresses and the decisions of international executive bodies to ensure the harmonious development of the Association in the country represented; to send monthly to the International Board of Directors the membership data for all new members and data on each new Convivium; to assign financial resources for the participation of national representatives in Slow Food activities and for the participation of international executives at activities or meetings in their own country; to monitor the use of the Slow Food logo in their own country and to promptly inform the International Board of Directors of any case of incorrect use.

[5] More than 5000 Slow Food initiatives each year, 10,000 small producers involved in 314 Presidia projects, 1000 products at risk of extinction promoted through the Ark of Taste catalogue, 1,300 food education activities and 350 school gardens in 100 countries and the Terra Madre network activities which involve 2,000 food communities, 1,000 cooks, 500 academics and 1,000 young activists.

[6] According to official statistics, 85% of payments benefit just 18% of producers (the equivalent of 25% of jobs) and 1,58% of farmers receives direct payments worth over 50,000 euro each (European Commission, 2010).

[7] Historically, seeds have always been a common good for humanity: research and development of techniques for seed selection and improvement used to be a common legacy. Born of the belief that nature is an element people can dispose of as they wish, the idea that it is possible to patent life forms is one of the heritages of modern industrial society. Besides being intrinsically perverse, the phenomenon is tilting the agrifood sector further in the big multinationals’ favour.

[8] The global agrifood system forces people all over the world to comply with only one way of consuming and producing food. This is basically the result of an idea of the global market, of the control of nature, of the pursuit of efficiency, of scale production and consumption that shows no regard whatsoever for the social and environmental costs this involves. The idea is rooted in the belief that local agriculture has to serve the global market.

[9] The wealth and variety of biodiversity allow nature to survive by adapting to environmental change, climate change and disease. Without diversity, nature would be bound for extinction. Biodiversity is in a critical condition, seriously threatened by intensive farming. The development and spread of genetically modified organisms has further aggravated this situation. Besides down the millennia, about 10,000 species have been used for human nutrition and agriculture. But today 90% of human food comes from 120 species and only 12 plant species and five animal breeds provide more than 70% of all human food.

[10] The way in which prices are fixed in the food supply system is a direct effect of this phenomenon; often price represents an unfair value for producers and an untransparent one for consumers. This injustice is an expression of an unbalanced system, in which the profits of the big processing companies and retail chains have exploded, hurting farmers as much as consumers.

[11] This was due to the launch of a new project called “European Schools for Healthy Food” for € 106,000, an increase of about € 100,000 for projects funded by IFAD, and the remainder provided by an increase in funding from the Lighthouse Foundation. The item “Other Income” fell by € 8,000 or 1%, due to an increase of € 38,000 in donations and a decrease of € 50,000 from Eurogusto event; the item includes € 700,000 donated by Terra Madre Foundation.

[12] Common Agricultural Policy.

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