The Slow Food movement is alive and tasty

Loren and Patty Imes raise pigs for chemical-free pork at their farm on French Road in Clinton. - Photo courtesy of Barbara Graham
Loren and Patty Imes raise pigs for chemical-free pork at their farm on French Road in Clinton.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Barbara Graham

Slow food is the opposite of fast food.

It’s good for you, it doesn’t kill the planet on its way to production and it tastes delicious.

The Slow Food movement brings to mind the famous morality tale in which the slow and steady tortoise ultimately beats the speedy and somewhat villainous hare to the finish. Slow Food advocates, like the well-meaning tortoise, are ever-so-slowly convincing their friends, neighbors and legislators that good, clean and fair-market food is worth fighting for in a world dominated by cheap, unhealthy and somewhat mysterious fast food. Ultimately, slow and clean beats fast and dirty.

The Greenbank Farm will sponsor the first-ever Slow Food Whidbey Island event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 27 at the farm.

The Slow Food movement is not just about eating local in-season organic food. It’s also about providing healthier food in schools, helping the poor to be able to buy food that is both affordable and nutritious and giving tax breaks to small family farmers who raise food without polluting their communities in the process.

The Slow Food movement began in Italy in the late 1980s in order to provide an alternative to the encroachment of the fast-food market in Europe.

Its mission is to show people that modern, pre-industrial-style food production methods and manufacture are viable, healthful, preferable alternatives to current food manufacturing and agribusiness practices.

The top item on the current agenda of Slow Food USA is nutritious food in school cafeterias across the country. Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. It strives to reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce a healthy national diet.

The concept for the Whidbey Island event is to teach what Slow Food means by way of tasting, smelling and seeing locally grown products cooked by island chefs.

“We’d like people to learn to appreciate real food which has been handled more by hands than machines,” said Barbara Graham, Slow Food Whidbey Island chapter chairwoman.

“The message is to show why these Whidbey growers give their crops and animals such care, time and energy to produce high-quality, nutritious products, and why these Whidbey chefs bother to buy a local product from them, instead of cheaper sources trucked in from far and wide,” she added.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and a gaggle of Whidbey chefs and growers will be on hand at the event to talk about slow food while everybody eats.

Tables of prepared locally grown foods will be available for guests to eat, while raw products of farmers will also be on display. Chefs and growers will talk to participants about the food and their methods for cooking and growing.

“It’s a rare opportunity to catch these chefs out of their kitchens for a chat,” Graham said.

Chefs at the event will include Scott Fraser of Fraser’s, Joe Scott of the Oystercatcher, Andreas Wurzrainer of Christopher’s, Sieb Jurriaans of Prima Bistro, Kathy Longstreet of Deception Pass Café & Grill and Jan Gunn of Whidbey Pies Café.

The growers involved are Rosehip Farm, Penn Cove Shellfish, 3 Sisters Cattle Company, Willowood Farm and Bell’s Farm.

Vintner Greg Osenbach of Langley’s Whidbey Island Winery will pour the wine and tell his story about growing grapes and making wine on Whidbey for the past 25 years. His wines and other locally-made wines may be purchased by the bottle in the Greenbank Farm Wine Shop, which will provide wine glasses for guests at the event.

The local movement began as a grassroots push to open people’s eyes to the island’s bounty.

Last August, Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard hosted an informational potluck and meeting for Whidbey residents interested in starting a local Slow Food chapter. A small group of mostly growers, chefs and friends met for several months to discuss a vision for Slow Food on Whidbey. The group became the steering committee which fulfilled Slow Food USA requirements to become a bona-fide chapter.

The event at the Greenbank Farm will be the group’s first event for the new Slow Food Whidbey Island chapter, which seeks new members.

Tickets are $25 per person and include food and wine; adults only, please. Get tickets at the door or at Whidbey Pies Café and Greenbank Farm Wine Shop in Greenbank; the Oystercatcher, Christopher’s or Bayleaf in Coupeville; Solutions Salon in Freeland; or Prima Bistro and Whidbey Island Winery in Langley; or Deception Pass Café & Grill, Fraser’s or Bayleaf in Oak Harbor.

The event will take place in the main barn adjacent to the wine shop during the Sunday farmers market.

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