Slow Down with the Slow Food Movement

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Following on the heels of the burgeoning Slow Food movement, which began in Italy in the 1980s and is now rapidly making its way across the United States, Slow Cities is a recent effort to “rediscover time and re­capture the rhythms of life in a simpler age.” While Slow Food promotes the protection of local biodiversity and culinary traditions and fights the folly of fast food, Slow Cities expands the concept into a way of life.

Thirty-three Italian towns have signed a Charter of Association to form the initial group of “slow cities.” The movement aims to implement a program of civilized harmony grounded in the serenity of everyday life through appreciation for the seasons and cycles of nature, cultivation of local produce, and slow, reflective living. To become a ­member–which includes the right to display the movement’s snail logo–a city must meet a range of requirements, including increasing pedestrian access, implementing recycling and reuse policies, and introducing ecological transport systems such as bicycle paths.

The Slow Cities Manifesto calls for “towns and cities brought to life by people ‘keen on time refound.’ Towns and cities packed with squares, theaters, workshops, cafes, restaurants, places of worship, un­contaminated landscapes, and the pliers of fascinating crafts.” Slow Cities prohibits local production of genetically modified foods, neon lighting, outdoor advertising, and car alarms while it supports preservation of built environments, green space, organic agriculture, farmer’s markets, and leisurely midday meals.