San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

What’s the Rush? Slow Food Is Here

At the end of the day, the strains of modern life can leave us dragging ourselves to a microwave, reheating leftovers and scarfing them down while our sleep-heavy eyelids keep trying to descend over the scene.

More than 80,000 people around the world agree this is a miserable picture, and have tried to avoid it by forming part of the international Slow Food movement, recently inaugurated in Costa Rica.

Slow Food, an international nonprofit association present in 105 countries, was born in Piemonte, Italy, in 1986, in opposition to “fast food” and the rushed lifestyle from which it emerged.

Before a chic crowd gathered for the Costa Rican inauguration July 24 at the Calderón Guardia Museum in eastern San José’s Barrio Escalante neighborhood, the founders of the movement in Costa Rica explained Slow Food’s goals.

“The virus of velocity, stress, causes varied effects: you don’t rest much, you sleep poorly – this strips us of our inner peace, peace with our families, friends, colleagues,” said Piero Schettino, president of Slow Food in Costa Rica.

Schettino, owner of Bacchus Italian restaurant in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, proposed Slow Food as a “vaccine against rushing” and a way of injecting happiness in our lives by taking time to prepare and enjoy meals and living life calmly, at a slow pace.

Giuseppe Tarnero, food expert and vicepresident of Slow Food Costa Rica, explained that defending biodiversity is also part of the movement’s mission.

Apart from exalting taste and the pleasure of eating, particularly traditional meals that are becoming lost amid generic fast food, Slow Food also supports sustainable fishing, cattle farming and agriculture, explained Tarnero, who is also vice-president of the Costa Rican Comitato degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero, the Italian community association.

The group’s official name is Slow Food Caracol de la Boca del Monte, which comes from caracol, the Spanish word for snail, Slow Food’s symbol representing the fight against speed, and Boca del Monte, the original name of the country’s capital.

The Costa Rican branch was created in April and had 44 members until July 24, when its affiliates rocketed to almost 100 after the inauguration ceremony.

Each Slow Food branch is known as a convivium, Tarnero said, explaining the word is Latin for “party” or “banquet.”

“We seek to motivate Costa Ricans to form part of the group, and to rediscover and value recipes and independent products, to re-conquer control over our lives through the food we eat, enjoying its taste in a more relaxed, friendly and affable manner in our homes and communities,” Tarnero said in a statement from public relations firm Porter Novelli.

The Costa Rican convivium expects to promote its philosophy through events such as food fairs and by working with schools to cultivate gardens at schoolyards, according to Tarnero.

Slow Food charges an annual $65 family membership fee, which allows members to receive international information about the movement and to participate in activities and training workshops.

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