Slow Food is poised to revolutionize the way Americans shop for groceries, prepare and consume their meals, and think about food. The book not only recalls the origins, first steps, and international expansion of the movement from the perspective of its founder, it is also a powerful expression of the organization's goal of engendering social reform through the transformation of our attitudes about food and eating. As Newsweek described it, the Slow Food movement has now become the basis for an alternative to the American rat race, the inspiration for "a kinder and gentler capitalism."
Slow Food, a group of 75,000 members that supports recognition of traditional foods and eating patterns (e.g., the family meal), is an important player in today's battle for the palates and stomachs of the world. As "The Official Slow Food Manifesto" states, "Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters," but to find them, it's going to need more friendly material than this didactic screed. Italian journalist Petrini founded the group in 1989, changing the name of a previous organization from Arcigola to Arcigola Slow Food in response to the opening of a McDonald's in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, a development described in excruciating detail. Petrini's condescending tone ("When you see the word `flavorings' on the package, don't imagine that it always refers to natural substances") isn't helped by a clumsy translation that adheres to Italian syntax. It's a shame, because the elitist tone and convoluted language obscure Petrini's informed opinions on genetically modified organisms and nutritional education in the schools (he references mainly Italian public schools). Petrini's case against McDonald's is perhaps his strongest card, but it's geared mainly to an Italian, or at least European, audience (it's doubtful that many American parents comfort themselves with the thought that "when they're old enough the kids will develop a taste for Barolo") and more thorough and better written arguments have already been made, most notably in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.