Equity, Inclusion and Justice

Slow Food is embracing equity, inclusion and justice in food with the release of a draft “Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto.” This document was presented to the 300 leaders present at the day-long summit to kick off the Slow Food Nations festival. The document acknowledges that “many injustices still exist within our food system. Our local and national work is to dismantle these structures.”

This formal commitment to food justice has been several years in the making; and follows efforts at the local, national and global levels to reposition the organization to be better known for its work opposing land-grabbing in Africa than, say, promoting farm-to-table dinners. Slow Food USA executive director Richard McCarthy adds, “This difficult shift to embrace joy with justice in both words and actions has been led by local chapters who have purposefully invited advocates of color to inform and steer Slow Food work on the ground to address injustices that disproportionately impact the communities most negatively affected by the industrial food system.”

Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini’s ambitious 2005 book, Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean and Fair provides a formula for the Good, Clean and Fair guiding principles. However, Slow Food USA has struggled to diversify its membership and leadership and to relaunch its brand to reflect a full-fledged commitment to food justice, communities of color and the belief that the spoils of the good food movement are to be enjoyed by all. Food movement observers may recall the internal struggles that consumed Slow Food from 2008 – 2012: between different wings of the organization and at a time when the Farm Bill drove a wedge between the sustainable farming and food security communities. Needless to say, serious and difficult internal work has yielded results reaching out beyond the usual suspects.

The 2014 launch of Slow Meat assembled allies and Slow Food insiders: ranchers, vegans, women butchers, First Nations herders and the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association. The 2015 school garden partnership with Chipotle brought Slow Food into closer contact with national organizations working in underserved public schools. The organization’s 2016 strategic planning process to refocus national efforts on gatherings, campaigns and partnerships opened up the space for new ways to engage new audiences. This has helped the Slow Food Policy Committee, Slow Fish, Slow Food California and other advocacy and social change tendencies within the organization mobilize resources to set a place at the figurative table and the physical one in Denver for young, advocates of color to feel welcome and to shape the future of food — and in this case, the future of Slow Food.

In 2017, the Equity, Inclusion and Justice Working Group raised nearly $20,000 in honoraria for food justice leaders to attend Slow Food Nations. Moreover, support from the Christensen Fund, 11th Hour Project, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided support for the Slow Food Turtle Island Association (Native American) members to attend, market and speak at the gathering — a gathering that began with a keynote presentation by Latino scientist and activist Ricardo Salvador about the structural injustices of the food system.

We are excited to share the “Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto” with you. It comes as a practical response to Carlo Petrini’s 2005 insistence that Slow Food has always meant to be a movement more than just another non-governmental organization. Slow Food USA is indebted to the Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto Working Group for its leadership crafting the organizational commitment “to all”: Jim Embry, Charity Kenyon, Julie Shaffer, Khai Nguyen, Jennifer Breckner, Michael Easterling, Tiffany Nurrenbern, Philip Lee, Peter Morich, Sophie Javna, Jovan Sage, Brenda Ruiz, Sofia Unanue, Willow Blish, Howard COnyers, Denisa Livingston, Kevin Mitchell, Aretta Begay, Jacquelyn Ann Ross, Jennifer Casey, Kathryn Underwood, Ben Burkett and Chanowk Yisrael, and others who devoted the time, talent and treasure to make the organization better and stronger.

In the years since, Slow Food’s 1989 founding Manifesto was written and signed with much fanfare in Paris, the food movement has evolved. When reread today, it is easy to understand why new proclamations are necessary to capture the full breadth of the movement and the values that inspire those to garden, change public policy, and forge community via food. Moreover, many new voices have joined Slow Food to articulate equally holistic concerns previously left out of the discourse. For instance, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Good Food For All, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and others provide complementary and authentic critiques of a food system shaped by unsustainable desires for scale, speed, efficiency and an innate need to treat people and places as objects from which to extract resources. Not only do we find it deeply encouraging that regenerative alternatives are aligning around some version of good, clean and fair, but that many organizations mirror Slow Food’s desire to express alternatives ways to win both hearts and minds of eaters of all walks of life via creative means, like the publication of manifestos. We are proud of the sharing of the Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto and trust that the commitment to justice will adjoin other poetic and authentic expressions for social change, like The Food and Farm Manifesto authored by the Americas for Conservation and the Arts and the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association.

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