Slow Food- a reaction to the Fast Food industry

SLOW FOOD

I had the opportunity of meeting two active members of the  exemplary organisation, Slow Food; and have them tell me about their goals and activities that are taking place both in Florence and internationally. Mr. Londini told us about the origins of Slow Food, founded by italian activist Carlo Petrini back in 1986; acting as a reaction against fast food. Slow Food was created to “protect gastronomy and local food instead of using standardised and industrialised food” (Londini 2014). Mrs. Ferrari told us this is a counter movement to what we know as ‘Macdonalisation”, where food production has been globalised and you can find identical foods all over the world. All over italy each convivia is in charge of bringing people together with an interest in food, not only for the pleasure of eating, but on the “political act of eating” (Petrini). 

Slow Food constantly holds events to raise awareness, “we have courses, masters of wine, beer.. mostly teach how food is made, learn the history, theory and practice” (Ferrari 2014).  

what activities are being developed with the young generations? 

“We have set up vegetable gardens in schools (in italian known as orto in condotta), because now days children don’t know what they eat, where it comes from” (Londini 2014). In Florence there are 10 gardes in primary schools, some of us volunteers go and we work with the teachers to organise the gardens. The kids grow the vegetables, water them. During the school years they are also helped by parents. They are able to see the growth process of vegetables, they write about them, eat and paint them too. They start knowing about the importance of food, instead of just finding packaged food. “Some kids when you ask them where the chicken comes from, they will say from the supermarket. It is important for them to know where food comes from” (Londini & Ferrari 2014).

“We also have the goal of raising money to build 10,000 vegetable gardens in Africa. Every convivium collects money to finance these gardens. This money serves for people to teach local people about how to build a vegetable garden” (Ferrari 2014).

What projects do you hold for the future? 

We are now mapping producers according to our principles of slow food: eat good (taste), clean (sustainable and environmentally clean) and fair (with producers). It identifies local producers. This is a new project going on in the committee of Florence.

Another project is to organise a mercato della terra: market that sells exclusively products from a short distance of production, in which the producers meet the consumers, and sell their products directly, just as it was a few decades ago.  

Slow food is currently doing work in places all over the world! with the goal of building food sustainability and also to promote food that is GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR. 

to know more about this organisation and their activities in Italy visit: 

http://www.slowfoodfirenze.it

http://www.slowfood.it/

http://www.slowfood.com

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Mug Cafe- not just a cafe, supporting local art and traditions

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In the Santa Croce area of Florence a new cafe was recently opened; yet this is not just another business selling coffee and cakes, this is quite THE PLACE if you ever find yourself wondering the streets of Florence. As soon as you enter this aesthetically beautiful establishment, you will feel the warmth and sweetness of Italians right away. You will be welcomed and taken care of by the wonderful staff running this place, they will not only give you excellent customer service, but they will treat you as a friend, perhaps the most personalised and friendly service i’ve ever experienced whilst being in Italy.

Their menu is varied and you can find a variety of plates, ranging from american style food to very local options. They will also make foccacias, smoothies and cocktails with the combination of ingredients of your choice!

If this has not convinced you yet, let me tell you another reason why you should not miss this place during your stay in Florence. Inside this business you will also get to see contemporary art of young artists from the region. Cafe owner Fabrizio told us he wants to promote young artists, thus he  is open to have the work of all artists including painters, sculpturists, poets and musicians  in his cafe, to support local art and culture. Currently he is exhibiting both poems and paintings of artists from Florence. Artworks are changed every one or two months depending on the availability of artworks.

Finally he also serves products brought from local producers, including cheese from Sardenia, Tuscany and Sicily. Also proscuitto and salami from around the region, including the famous Salami from Prato. They also serves a varied selection of artisan beers by the Italian-owned beer company Cajun, beer produced locally with different ingredients.

for more info about the location and opening hours visit: https://www.facebook.com/mugcafefirenze

Environmental Psychotherapy- Psychoterrapia- The new type of Psychological Therapy- Cultivating Minds

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I had the chance to attend one of the talks of Dra. Valeria Uga, Psychoterapy practicer in Florence, Italy. She gave a talk about the new concept of Psychoterrapia, starting from its origins to its use in the day to day lives of ordinary peoples.

Dr. Uga explains Pshychoterrapia is based on the combination of two main elements: the principles of Psychology and Biodynamic Agriculture.

Pshychology involves the study of the human (individual and group) behaviour as well as the psychological properties that cause certain behaviour either through symbology or other inductive methods. On the other hand Biodynamic Agriculture refers to refers to the practice of agriculture as a whole, not only focused on producing goods but also focused on the process itself, where effort is also invested in ensuring diversification, health, fertility and balance; thus crops are grown with as little contamination as possible, to end up with healthy systems and also to ensure healthy consumers. (more info in: https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html).

Thus in this case Psychoterrapia entails a type of psychological treatment that encourages the wellness of the person using alive, natural systems. Thus it involves both intervention (treatment of the patient) and practice (involvement of the patient him/her self,) entailing the active involvement of the patients. This therapy is also known as “green care”.

Dr. Uga explains this new type of practice is IMPORTANT because it is based on the CONNECTION between NATURE AND SOCIETY. By being involved with and in nature, you are able to discover you are PART OF A LARGER WORLD. “By practising ‘green’ activities your mental state is directly influenced” (Uga, 2014). It is this sense of connection with the natural world that it can stimulate the human mind, bringing very positive results. Examples of treatments include:

-Orticulutura: practice of agriculture, either by helping in building and maintaining gardens, reserves..etc.

-Intervention with animals: constant interaction with other non-human living beings

– exercise in the green space

– wildness therapy: total immersion of the individual in wild nature

-farming: farm activities to promote health and other agricultural activities

Dr. Uga explains the reason why these practices promote well-being is because of the analogies that the patient can make between the natural systems (healthy, living, bright, beautiful..etc.) and the patient him/her self. The patient’s sense systems will be stimulated, and thanks to symbolism he patient will eventually find recovery. Furthermore these therapies also distance patients from our BIGGEST TEMPTATIONS of contemporary life: materialism, consumerism, profit, capitalism… and instead finds a place of spirituality and inspiration. “with Psychotherapy we can CULTIVATE MINDS” (Uga, 2014).

Conference on Social Agriculture and the Value of Food- Food and Health

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An important conference has held in Florence, Italy, in june 2014, where time, effort and expertise was dedicated solely to the value of healthy food and the importance of farmers for the human living-well as well as for the environment. This meet saw the presence of three very influential italian experts on the topic, as well as key organisations and individuals in the topic of food sovereignty.

The conference was started with the presentation of Profesor Vicenzo Longo, researcher at the Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria (Institute of Biology and Agricultural Biotecnology) from Milan. Longo gave a very educational talk about the importance of eating healthy to ensure a good quality of life.

Eating healthy such as by minimising consumption of genetically modified foods  according to Longo is important because doing otherwise can be very harmful for our bodies. Food crops tend to be modified to increase production but in the process eliminate any nutritional value from the food.

Modified foods usually loose the antioxidants that would naturally be in the fruits and vegetables we eat. These antioxidants are extremely important for our health as they fight particles such as ‘free radicals’ that cause a disease known as ‘oxidative stress’ (an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants). Studies have found a direct relation between oxidative stress and other serious diseases such as Parkinsons disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart attacks, inflammatory diseases and others.

Longo contends that this lack of nutritional elements should not just be replaced by taking supplements, as consuming artificial food can alter our endogenous antioxidant system. Instead he proposed some useful tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease.

Firstly is it not about the quantity of food we eat, but about the QUALITY. Furthermore there are also key foods that are high in proteins and nutrients. But particularly there are COMBINATION OF FOODS that when eaten together increase their nutritional power:

-Carrots and oil (source of vitamin E)

-Curcumin (main ingredient of Tumeric)

-Cocoa Butter

-Hazelnut and Wine

-Lemon and Green tea

He also suggests the avoidance of food additives, the consumption of local products from local farmers, and consumption of foods that are in season. Also to avoid fast foods as they have additives that cause dependence, such as chemicals that stimulate our smelling senses.

 

 

for more info about the Institute: http://www.ibba.cnr.it/