The Year in Food 2007

Slow Food Fight

In San Francisco to promote his new book, Slow Food Nation, Italian Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini quickly found himself eating his words and canceling a planned speaking engagement. A passage in the book slams the upscale indoor Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as an “exclusive place” where farmers—whom he portrays as well-off ex–Silicon Valley types—sell produce at “boutique-y” prices to “actresses” who flaunt their produce “like jewels, status symbols.” Bristling, farmers and market management scratched Petrini’s scheduled book-signing and instead had it out with him at an emergency meeting called to restore a working relationship between the Slow Food king and Bay Area organic-farming royalty. Petrini—who kind of stood his ground at the meeting, accusing farmers of overreacting—issued an apology letter. It blamed poor translation for the passage’s petty tone, but acknowledged that “the elitism argument against organic and artisanal foods” is an inherent contradiction in the slow food movement. Moral of the story: Organic dirt is just as costly as conventional gossip. —Melissa Wagenberg Lasher