Being in Italy always makes me question the way we eat in the US. And this trip is no exception. I am traveling with my daughter and she saw “slow food” on a menu, and asked an interesting question: “does that mean it takes a long time to prepare, like a souffle?” That made me wonder why with all of our talk of Health and Wellness, the Slow Food movement isn’t more important in the U.S.?
The Slow Food Movement started in 1989, to protest a McDonald’s that was about to be built at the Spanish Steps in Rome. While it didn’t stop the spread of McDonald’s into Italy, Slow Food has continued to evolve into the antithesis of fast food in every way.
But today, the movement doesn’t just talk about what we are putting in our body, it also considers the fast food effect on the planet as a whole. Just this week, Slow Food Europe came out in support of the new European Citizens’ Initiative that called on the European Commission to propose legislation banning the use of all cages in animal farming.
Additionally, while Americans are just starting to scratch the surface with our discussion of plastic straws, the European Commission is proposing bans and limits on a much bigger range of plastic products. Cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons will all have to be made from sustainable materials. Member states will have to collect 90% of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025 and reduce the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by setting national reduction targets. Two possible tactics include making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge. The European Union already recycles 30% of its plastic, while the United States only recycles 10% of ours. It makes you wonder why we’re so slow to adopt things that are so important to our planet and our bodies.
Is it because we value convenience over our own wellness?
The 50 million Americans that still eat at one of our country’s 200,000 fast food restaurants every day would indicate, ‘Yes.’ What will it take for Americans to be motivated to take bigger action like the Europeans? And how do we as brands get more people to eat sustainably in the United States? We know the demand for purpose-driven brands is at an all-time high with Millennials and Gen Z. To me, this movement seems like a compelling case for any brand that has anything to do with food. Or even just brands that care about the planet and humanity in general.
This year Slow Food Nations hosted a “festival of flavor, culture and exploration” in Denver and although there were many small food brands sponsoring, the only two major ones were Danone and Whole Foods.
This feels like a purpose worth pursuing. If you feel like your brand should be connected to this movement and need some help, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s talk.