‘Slow Food’ potluck on Saturday
By Mindy Cooper/ The Portland Observer
Rejecting the fast food diets of today as unhealthy, a Slow Food National Day of Action is coming to a northeast Portland neighborhood where activists invite residents to celebrate efforts to increase access to fresh healthy and affordable food by sharing a healthy meal together.
Slow Food Portland, part of an International anti-fast food movement, will host a community potluck event in the Cully neighborhood on Saturday, Sept. 17, in an effort to bring individuals and organizations throughout the community together to eat good food and discuss how to achieve food justice on a local level.
The non-profit Slow Foods movement, which was founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and supporters, came about when McDonalds wanted to open a restaurant around the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Today, the organization, which believes everyone has a right to good, clean and fair food, has a Slow Food USA office in New York and networks throughout the country, including more than 250,000 supporters, 25,000 members and 225 local chapters—determined to transform the nation’s food system.
By reaching out to local neighborhoods, Amanda Peden, a board member of Slow Food Portland, said they hope to bring awareness and education on how to best eliminate the barriers to affordable and healthy food.
“We really believe it should be a right to have access to fresh healthy food,” said Peden. “Not the privilege it often is now.”
In the past the Slow Food movement has been criticized for its less inclusive policies, which critics say have overlooked the rising prices of healthy food and differential access many populations within the country face when selecting what to put on the dinner table.
Peden said, however, this is one challenge Slow Food Portland is determined to address.
At the core of the movement, she said, the goal is to create a food system that truly serves everyone within it. When deciding where to hold the community potluck event she said, “We chose the Cully neighborhood because of the good work going on in the community, and because it is a neighborhood that still faces a lot of challenges.”
“Albertsons is the only grocery option in the neighborhood,” she said. “Food often times costs more, or it is more difficult to access than unhealthy options. This is something that I think community members are facing in the Cully neighborhood.”
The event will give Slow Food an opportunity to work with community members and organizations to meet some of those challenges, said Peden.
Slow Food is in many ways the opposite of what we have more access to now in terms of fast food, she said, including highly-processed foods, food with a lot of additives, fat, and sodium, and food that doesn’t resemble what it was like when it came out of the ground.
She said everything wrapped up in the processed food world often seems to be much more a part of our reality than fresh whole foods.
“Food is really important to our lives, and food should be respected for how it is grown and the people who grow should it be respected,” she said. “The work and promotion of Slow Foods is a way to say, let’s take a step back from where our food system is headed and envision a food system that does provide healthy food for people and support for workers and farmers on the ground.”
According to Peden, Portland’s Slow Food chapter has been an active volunteer-run organization that is one of the oldest in the country. “The chapter has been really active for a long time,” she said. “But the event in the Cully neighborhood is a really exciting move for us, because we want to become involved directly with communities in Portland.”
Whether it’s building more gardens, helping the ones that already exist, fundraising support or organizing around policy and institutional changes, we want to be directed by the neighborhood with their ideas for change, said Peden. “People who live in the neighborhood have a much better idea of what needs to be changed, ideas for change and how it should be addressed.”
Peden said their chapter has been working with a number of individuals and organizations, including Trinity Lutheran Church, elementary schools and markets within the Cully community in an attempt to hold an event truly catered towards what the neighborhood wants. “We have been trying to involve the community in planning,” she said.
Children’s activities and day care will also be part of the potluck on Saturday, and food will be provided. Peden said, however, individuals are encouraged to bring food to share, and no contribution is too small.
“Slow Food is an organization with a mission and vision for a world where everyone has access to food that is good for them,” said Peden. “We really wanted the potluck to be a way to connect with organizations and the neighborhood, and we thought the Cully Neighborhood would be a great place to start.”
Everyone is invited to the free family potluck event, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church, located at 5520 N.E. Killingsworth St.