Friday, 24 April 2015

Slow Food Story, Global to Galway.

 "This documentary is the story of a revolution. A slow revolution, a revolution at a snail’s pace".
Have a read of this review of 'Slow Food Story' written by Slow Food member Anne Marie Carroll for The Galway Advertiser following the last screening of the movie in Galway during the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2013, in advance of our own screening of the Slow Food Story movie this coming Monday night.


Stefano Sardo, director of 'Slow Food Story' pictured after the screening at the Galway Rowing Club.
I like stereotypes. They save me time. If you go along with your first impression, you have all the time in the world to change your mind afterwards. So naturally I assumed the Galway Slow Food Movement were a right shower of hippies. Dog-on-a-string, dream catcher-owning, hummus-eating hippies. With Birkenstocks. However, having met several of them over the last year I am glad to report them to be a lovely bunch.  Maybe some of them do like hummus or have a dog, but they certainly didn't fit at all well into my stereotype.

So I was happy to see advertised a documentary screening as part of the Galway Film Fleadh, in the Town Hall Theater, about the revolution of the Slow Food Movement since its inception in Italy 25 years ago. Members of Slow Food Galway were invited to go along to Sheridan's Wine Bar for a pre-movie reception.  I wasn't a member but I gate crashed anyway.

The Slow Food Movement was established in Italy as a response to the dominance of fast food chains, supermarkets, and large-scale agri-business. Defending 'the universal right to pleasure', it promotes food production and consumption based on 'good, clean, and fair' local products. Small producers, ethical farmers and individuals (Galway's own convivium was established in 2009) have joined together to continue this work on a local level.

This documentary is the story of a revolution. A slow revolution,. A revolution at a snail’s pace.  Stefano Sardo, the director who crafted this little documentary full of memories, old photos and archive footage, was uniquely placed to make it, having been born and raised in Bra within the movement, being the son of Piero Sardo, co-founder of the association. 'Slow Food Story' is a tale of family, friendship and a village that, in addition to producing good wine and food, gave birth to a man of genius dubbed by Time Magazine as 'A European hero', Carlo Petrini. Known as ‘Carlìn’, he is the man who invented Slow Food and Terra Madre.

It documents a group of friends in a provincial town, their political passions, fun loving and carefree existence. The film shows the charismatic Petrini and how, through his outreach activities, Slow Food has developed independently and almost regardless of its founder, creating a movement that now exists in 150 countries.

As 'Slow Food Story'  takes a walk through Galway Market with Seamus Sheridan, one of our own local food heroes, it reminds us that every little corner of the world is filled with people mindful of the health of the planet, attempting to promote healthy and sustainable food culture. Seamus Sheridan, a curator of cheeses, a teller of stories and a generous spirit, is the epitome of 'Slow Food' in Galway. He passes the children slices of Comte or jelly beans when we visit him on a Saturday, sometimes a glass of prosecco is pressed into to your hand. He is a man who takes pleasure in the pleasure of others. Seamus is not so much the 'face' of food in Galway but for many who know him, he is the 'soul'.

The film was followed by a wine and canapé reception, with a Q & A session and discussion chaired by JP McMahon (EatGalway) following the screening with the film’s director Stefano Sardo, Seamus Sheridan and Galway Slow Foods own Kate O' Dwyer.

The Movement is about big concepts, food miles, biodiversity, respect for the land, impoverishment of the soil and the use of chemical fertilizers, the return to organic agricultural practices, the absurd privatization of seed, the Zero Hunger program. But the key to its success is in grasping the idea that things can change and that anyone can make a difference, even just starting with something as 'small' as what we put on our own table.

A documentary that is inspiring and educational without particularly aiming to be. It even dispelled the last vestiges of my 'hippy' stereotype. In fact, I am now a card carrying Slow Food member. 'Slow Food Story' is a necessary film, it speaks to a world that has lost the value of place and memory, it praises identity in these times of disrespect, and is well worth watching if you get the opportunity.

Now where can I get some Birkenstocks?