An agricultural and gastronomic movement that emphasizes traditional, organic growing methods and the appreciation of fine food and wine. Also: Slow Food. n. Food grown and consumed in this way. slow-foodadj. Relating to this movement.
Most of us think "slow food" when it takes 40 minutes to get an order of pancakes and eggs. But for a growing number of people across the globe, slow food is not an inconvenience but a goal — an attempt to put the brakes on our fast-food frenzied world.
Instead of drive-up burgers, tacos and chicken wings, slow food followers carve out a little bit of time in their hectic schedules to appreciate locally grown food, to preserve traditional cooking techniques (which usually require patience, not speed) and to celebrate the bounty with family and friends.
—Kathy Stephenson, "Taste Not Haste," The Salt Lake Tribune, April 24, 2002
Traditionalists in Georgetown are fed up with the fast-food invasion and have gone to court in behalf of the rights of slow food. The Georgetown Citizens Association, whose members have winced for years as the handsome old cobbled neighborhood yielded to all manner of boutiquery and fast-food eatery, sued this week and charged that the area's historic Market House by law should be used for the sale of fresh fish, meat, produce and other traditional marketplace items.
—Francis X. Clines and Phil Gailey, "Briefing," The New York Times, December 25, 1981
In 1986, Italian wine writer Carlo Petrini spied a new McDonald's restaurant in Rome's famous Piazza di Spagna and decided that enough was enough. He enlisted the help of some friends and they vowed to fight the encroachment of fast food by promoting its opposite: slow food.
Now the slow food movement its well-chosen symbol is a snail has over 70,000 members in 40 countries who adhere to the movement's credo: "To celebrate the diversity of culinary traditions and culture, promoting ecologically sound food production and reviving the dinner table as the centre of leisurely pleasure and social interaction."
Here's the first media citation I could find for this movement:
Slow food is a philosophical and ecological movement as well as a gastronomic one. It has, despite its name, taken off like the cork in a bottle of bubbly. Speaking at a recent lunch at Manhattan's Toscana restaurant, a snail-shaped pin (the symbol of the movement) sparkling on his lapel, Petrini explained the genesis of this latest culinary upheaval.
"Fast food is one of the most powerful and destructive components of our speeded up modern lives. It has standardized food from country to country, emphasized the beauty of what's on the plate but not its safety, and is undoing thousands of years of gastronomic civilization. We must band together to stop it, but, of course," he added with a broad wink, "we must stop it slowly, slowly."
"Food Watch," Newsday, November 1, 1989
As you might imagine, Signore Petrini and his fellow gastronomes weren't the first to use the phrase slow food in opposition to fast food.