Founder of Slow Food
In the early 1980s Carlo Petrini laid the foundations for Arcigola, an association whose aim was to promote the culture of conviviality and good food and wine and which eventually developed into the Slow Food movement. On December 9 1989, at the Opéra Comique in Paris, the Slow Food Manifesto was signed by over twenty delegations from around the world, and Petrini was elected president, an office he still holds today. Blessed with a knack of anticipating events in the fields of food, agriculture and eco-gastronomy (a term he coined himself), Petrini has played a decisive role in the development of Slow Food, inventing and promoting its projects, which have now acquired great international visibility. Among his many achievements is the creation of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and Colorno, the first academic institution to offer an interdisciplinary approach to food studies.
He also came up with the idea for Terra Madre, the network of over 2,000 food communities which brings together farmers, cheesemakers, fishermen and other food producers from all over the world.
As a journalist he has written for many important daily national newspapers such as Il Manifesto and later for La Stampa. Today he contributes regularly to La Repubblica (a member of the L'Espresso group). In his articles he discusses themes such as sustainable development, material culture, gastronomy, and the relationship between food and the environment.
The publications which Petrini has encouraged through the Slow Food Editore publishing company have received major accolades. In the United States, the Italian Wines guide has won the IACP - International Cook Book Award as best book in the 'wine and spirit' category, while the Slow journal won the prize for best design at the prestigious Utne Reader Alternative Press Awards in 2001.
Petrini’s experiences and reflections often develop organically through his writings. In 2001, Laterza published his book Le ragioni del gusto (published in English by Columbia University Press as The Case for Taste). With journalist Gigi Padovani he wrote Slow Food Revolution, published by Rizzoli in 2005 and also translated into English. Published by Einaudi in Italy in 2005, Buono, pulito e giusto. Principi di nuova gastronomia traces the development of the concept of “eco-gastronomy.” The book was translated into English (as Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean and Fair), French, Spanish, German, Polish, Portuguese, Japanese and Korean. His latest work is Terra Madre, published in 2009 by Giunti – Slow Food Editore, a sequel to Buono, pulito e giusto in which Petrini updates his theories, starting from the global economic crisis and the models of thinking and development that were its primary cause. The book’s title references the network of food communities of the same name and recognizes its value as an alternative political subject, able to create a local economy that can reconquer food sovereignty.
The depth of Carlo Petrini's theoretical analysis on the sustainability of food and agriculture in relationship to gastronomy has been acknowledged by the academic world. In 2003, the Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples conferred on him an honorary degree in Cultural Anthropology, and in May 2006 he received an honorary degree in Human Letters from the University of New Hampshire (USA) for his achievements as a ‘revolutionary precursor [and] founder of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. His Slow Food association has awakened the world’s interest in gastronomic and agricultural biodiversity.’
His skills as a communicator and the originality and importance of his message, implemented through Slow Food projects round the world, have aroused the interest of international opinion leaders and media. In 2004 he was named a 'European Hero' by Time magazine, and in January 2008 he was the only Italian to appear in the list of ‘50 People Who Could Save the World’ drawn up by the prestigious British newspaper The Guardian.
April 29 - 4:35 pm