Carlo Petrini

Feast in the Slow Lane

While resistance to the Americanization of mass culture takes different forms—most notably, the 1999 demolition of a McDonald’s restaurant by a French farmer—Carlo Petrini prefers to disagree by example. In his case, it means taking it slow.

Petrini, 51, a native of Bra, in the Piedmont region of Italy, is a journalist who often writes for the centrist La Stampa in Turin. He is also a founder of the Slow Food Movement, which asks people to ponder “staying in charge of the rhythms of life, and choosing how much time to devote to food production and consumption, instead of being dictated to by supermarket standardization and hectic schedules,” says London’s independent weekly, The Guardian.

“We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: fast life,” said a 1989 manifesto at the first multinational slow food convention at Paris’s Opéra Comique. “May suitable doses of a guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.”

Petrini takes a wider view, such as in an essay in La Stampa on genetically modified foods: “On one hand we find an agriculture rewarded for producing massive quantities of low-quality foods, grown by rich farmers and multinationals for poor people; on the other we have high-quality, niche farming, produced by poor farmers for rich people. This is not good for anyone.”

Petrini’s organization—dedicated to the belief that living well is living at a sedate pace with a good bottle of wine and excellent cheese never far away—now claims 60,000 members in 35 countries.