Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Slow Food and all that jazz

The brouhaha over the remarks by Carlo Petrini about the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market lead me to post something that unfortunately lead to some bad feelings and misunderstandings. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to clarify my own positions, once and for all.

Slow Food
It's a movement and a philosophy that was born in response to a McDonald's being opened in Rome. In general I agree with founder Carlo Petrini's manifesto as outlined in Slow Food: A Case for Taste. I do think we should preserve traditional foodways, and fully support the idea to "rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food."

On a local level I wish there were more Slow Food events that were accessible to as many people as possible, not only people with considerable disposable income. But I understand an organization tries to raise money with high ticket fundraisers in order to grow and to raise awareness and that's ok with me. The The Golden Glass tasting event this weekend is $50 but that's fairly affordable, considering it is a fundraiser.

As for Petrini's comments, because I believe in free speech, I believe he should be allowed to say what he wants about the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It saddens me to think he may have exaggerated or outright lied to make a point. But I do believe there was some truth to his comments, however harsh they seemed. It's important to really listen to criticism, not just shut it down. I also know that's hard to do. It's why I'm writing this today.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
I shop there. Not all the time. Not every week. But I do shop there. It is expensive but so are supermarkets. At both you have to look at quality and at prices and make your own personal purchasing decisions. At the Ferry Plaza Market it's much easier to talk to food producers directly which can help you make these decisions. That's a good thing.

Personally I feel more comfortable at the Alemany Farmers Market because I find a more diverse group of people there and a greater variety of Asian vegetables that I like experimenting with in my own cooking. It's earthier, and I just like that. I also prefer the prepared food at Alemany 100% over the cooked food sold outdoors at the Ferry Plaza. I've eaten both and that's just my personal opinion. Feel free to disagree.

The mission of CUESA is "To promote a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs". I appreciate that. Really I do. But I think to overcome the criticism that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is elitist (which by it's definition is not sustainable), there is a lot more they could be doing. Like what? Like showing consumers how to shop there on a budget. Like highlighting the best deals at the market, just like supermarkets do. Like having educational programs that feature less 5 star chefs and more local neighborhood home cooks and cooking done by Filipino, Latino, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern cooks and chefs for example. A focus on stuff that people in our community eat all the time, not just high end restaurant food, would be refreshing and appeal to a wide audience.

Ok, that's it for these subjects. For now anyway.