We’re super excited to announce that when booking directly, guests of Undiscovered Charleston will soon be able to make direct donations to our non-profit of choice: Slow Food Charleston. Last weekend, I was able to swing by the Slow Food Charleston cookout at the MUSC Urban Garden. (You can see the Slow Food snail whispering to me above.)
Slow Food started in Italy after a 1986 demonstration at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome, where construction of a McDonalds was planned. The organization is dedicated to preventing the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteracting the rise of fast life and combating people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Can you imagine the outrage if someone built a Taco Bell on the grounds of Drayton Hall???
Slow Food was founded with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. In over two decades of history, the movement has evolved to embrace a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture. Today, Slow Food represents a global movement involving thousands of projects and millions of people in over 160 countries. Through our food choices we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed, and change the world as a result.
The three tenets of Slow Food’s philosophy food and food production:
- GOOD: a fresh and flavorsome seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is part of our local culture;
- CLEAN: food production and consumption that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health;
- FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small-scale producers.
The American Ark of Taste
One of the ways Slow Food ensures all this is via their Ark of Taste, a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates.
Since 1996, more than 3,500 products from over 150 countries have been added to the International Ark of Taste. Over 200 of these foods are from the USA, and Slow Food is always seeking more edible treasures to include. It’s a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country’s diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.
This may seem like tilting at windmills, but Slow Foods’ successes are numerous and very real. Take just a moment to review the Slow Food Ark of Taste just from the American Southeast. If you’re Southern, odds are you’ve grown up around somebody, somewhere, lamenting the lost flavors of some of the very items on this list. Their latest project is the resurrection and revitalization of the famed Lemon Cling peach– the ancestral brandy peach of the South!
On every single Undiscovered Charleston tour I give, I say the exact same thing: Charleston is a great Southern city with a fantastic current day culinary scene. What sets us apart from many places isn’t the restaurants (we have many great ones) or the chefs (we have very talented chefs) but rather the recurring narrative of restoration. Slow Food Charleston is exactly the organization working to make this happen, and to return the flavors of our past to our present and future. So book your Undiscovered Charleston tour with us directly, and please give, allowing Slow Food Charleston to continue saving our culinary past and future.