Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Slow Food Doesn't Move Me

The Slow Food Movement started in the late 1980's in Italy in response to the growth of fast food chains. Today it is a "worldwide" movement with its own website and everything. If that seems a little glib it's because the movement is not earth moving (pun intended) in the restaurant world in the way that foodies wish it were.

Slow food restaurant efforts fall flat in all but the most ecologically diverse areas. The problem is that true slow food requires the food be made from ingredients regularly found in that particular ecoregion. Our Las Vegas Valley is part of an ecoregion which naturally yields only jack rabbits, coyotes, cactus, and Ken's Dressing. A slow food restaurant in our town would be a joke to say the least. Ecologically rich locales such as the San Francisco Bay area (included in an ecoregion that stretches down much of the California coast) can throw together a slow food restaurant with a very diverse and exciting menu with little effort. (I didn't choose the San Joaquin Valley because most of that farmland feeds the whole world rather than its own citizens and has no seafood options, although it can certainly be done there without much ado.)

Getting excited about this movement is for those people who live in areas that produce things. Las Vegas is an area of consumption, and as many world class restaurants as we have, we cannot do this whole slow food thing because we have no local crops to reap. I wish we did. I wish I could live in the city that is Las Vegas, but have it surrounded by farmland and vineyards. It just isn't so, and won't be barring a major ecological shift. What's worse, we don't even get the best produce we could, in grocery stores especially, given our relative proximity to California, as the best stuff (aka longest shelf life) gets shipped further across the country and we get stuck with the stuff Californians turn their nose up at (I should know, I do it all the time). It's okay though, their state is bankrupt and ours is... oh, right, only headed there.

I believe wholly in eating local, but here in the desert that opportunity does not exist. I envy the restauranteurs who have the option to buy local, and the consumers who get to enjoy the bounty of the soil they walk on every day.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

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