If you’re anywhere near San Francisco, and unless you drive with a paper bag over your head, you know that Slow Food Nation is upon us. The persimmon-colored signs are draped over every light pole and bus stop on the safe side of Market Street, and the chatter in food circles is centered around who is going to which events.
I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Contrary to what some might think, I don't have a stack of invitations to rub shoulders with all the right people at special insider events. I'm just like anyone else, checking out the Slow Food site and pondering whether or not to participate.
Here's a peek into what’s been rattling about in my brain.
On the Hey, This Might be a Good Thing side:
+ It is undoubtedly helping to facilitate valuable connections between small producers and the wholesalers, restaurants and retailers who will help to keep them in business. This is awesome.
+ It is allowing attendees to be exposed to more small producers and suppliers in a single event (whatever event that might be) than would otherwise be possible.
+ It matches the ethos of San Francisco. Of all the cities in the U.S., it feels right that this event should be held here.
On the Something About This Doesn’t Feel Quite Right side:
+ But that's harder than it seems: if I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area families with a tight food budget, attending a Slow Food Nation event means that I have that much less to spend on local organic food. Just sayin’.
+ To be clear: I know that this isn’t a profit-making event, and I’m not suggesting that ticket prices are too high. Creating such a large-scale event in San Francisco is breathtakingly expensive, and many people are donating time + resources to make this thing happen.
+ Which leads me to wonder: does a celebration of small-slow-sustainable food fit within a rock-concert-like event paradigm?
+ The Fort Mason venue harbors that stressful, crowded, elbow-knocking environment that seems the very antithesis of slow. Will an enormous event truly bring us closer to slowing down and deliberating over our food choices? I wonder if my time might be better spent making a meal with friends using local products rather than fighting congestion in the Marina district. (I know that there are smaller events taking place as well, but the Fort Mason events will draw the largest crowds.)
These are just thoughts; I’m not trying to reach any conclusions. I believe that many benefits will come about through Slow Food Nation, and certainly a lot of dialogue will be generated, which is All Good.
In fact, I’m going to join the herd and traipse down to one of the Taste Pavilions over the weekend, where we’ll doubtlessly jostle one another for bites of this and that. I’ll try to snap a few photos for those of you far from San Francisco.
What do you think about Slow Food Nation?
Photo above: a slow-baked treat by a very talented friend.