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The ideology of Slow Food


Luca Simonetti Journal of European Studies 2012 42: 168 DOI: 10.1177/0047244112436908 The online version of this article can be found at: http://jes.sagepub.com/content/42/2/168

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JES42210.1177/0047244112436908SimonettiJournal of European Studies

The ideology of Slow Food


Luca Simonetti

Journal of European Studies 42(2) 168189 The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub. co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0047244112436908 jes.sagepub.com

Abstract
This article addresses the ideology of Slow Food (SF), an influential movement founded in Italy in 1986. Through an analysis of a wide range of texts, ranging from SFs opposition to fast food to its ambition to establish a new gastronomic science and a new development model based on the three criteria of buono (good), pulito (clean) and giusto (tasty), the article concludes that SF is a descendant of the countercultural and anti-consumerist movements of the 1960s and 70s. It also claims that SFs understanding of the capitalist system is limited, that its idea of a new agriculture and a new economy is simply that of returning to a primitive, pre-industrial economy (without explaining how that economy could feed the present world population), that its ideal of a new world is that of a stratified and immutable society, and that its main goal is to combine the commercial promotion of high-price luxury food products with political engagement.

Keywords
agriculture, consumerism, counterculture, critical consumption, localism, ruralism, slow food, slow living, tradition, world hunger

During the 2008 Italian elections, the manifestos of three major political parties set out their goals as far as agriculture was concerned: the development of short supply chains; the introduction of farmers markets; the struggle against bio-piracy and the abandonment of rural areas; and support for organic farming. All these goals have been vigorously supported by Slow Food (SF) for many years. In this paper, I intend to study the ideology of SF. Ideology, in this case, means not only a systematic view of the world but also a false conscience, socially determined, which conceals the true nature of social relations and processes.1 After a short description of SF and its origins, I shall address the movements connections with counterculture, its complex relations with gluttony, its ideas of pleasure, its conception of gastronomy and its views on science. I shall examine SFs opposition to industrial farming, its critique of growth, and its suggestions for a different kind of

Corresponding author: Luca Simonetti, Studio Legale Associato Simonetti Persico Scivoletto, Via A, Carcini 51, 00197 Rome, Italy Email: l.simonetti@spslex.com

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development. Finally, the article will describe the key elements of SF ideology: the ideas of tradition, of a new consumer, and of a new engagement through food consumption. Formerly called ArciGola, SF was founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, and became an international association in 1989. Today it has around 90,000 members, with centres in seven countries and followers in 130, divided into approximately 800 basic units called convivia or condotte, which organize courses, tasting panels, dinners, travel and promotions, etc. In Italy, SF owns a publishing house, maintains two magazines and operates a service company (SlowFood Promozione S.r.l.). It has created, together with public and private bodies, not-for-profit entities such as the Fondazione SlowFood per la Biodiversit, a university for gastronomic studies, a wine bank, the Mother Earth (Terra Madre) Foundation and so on. It also organizes the so-called Presdi, devoted to the preservation and defence of rare foods, as well as events such as the Saloni del Gusto, Cheese, SlowFish, and many others. It is a true multinational entity, capable of raising funds on a large scale, of concluding cooperation agreements with governments and large corporations, and of mobilizing politicians and prominent personalities with divergent political opinions.2 SFs main goals are the following: placing the right emphasis on the pleasure of food, and learning how to appreciate different recipes and tastes, in order to recognize the various places and skills of production, and to respect the rhythms of the seasons and of the convivium; sustaining the education of taste as a defence against poor quality, food fraud and the standardization of our meals; safeguarding local cuisines, traditional production systems, and vegetable and animal species at risk of extinction; sustaining a new model of agriculture that is less intensive and cleaner; defending biodiversity and the right of the people to food sovereignty.3

SF was created in the late 1980s by people feeling a snobbish distaste for that consumerist and TV-addicted Italy and a desire to contain this barbaric invasion (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 92). Its origins date back to a reaction to the first Italian fast-food outlets (the first McDonalds restaurant in Italy opened in 1985), but from the very beginning it was opposed not just to a food model but to an entire culture: fast food was backed by a new culture and a new civilization having one value only: profit. Pleasure is totally incompatible with productivity, since the time spent in its pursuit is subtracted from production (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 901). Thus, in the SF Manifesto, we read that modern civilization started under the signs of dynamism and acceleration, taking the machine as a model for man himself and velocity as the dominant ideal.SF proposes to defeat the virus of fast, opposing the dynamic life, an easy life: May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude that mistakes frenzy for efficiency. This is SFs modest proposal for a gradual as well as progressive recovery of man, both as an individual and as a species, in the long-delayed process of environmental reclamation, in order to make life liveable again, starting from basic desires. And the proof is easy:

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people devoted to fast rhythms and efficiency are mostly stupid and sad: it suffices to look at them ... It is under the symbol of the snail that we shall recognise the lovers of material culture and those who still treasure the slow enjoyment of pleasures. (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 934)

Many things in this text are remarkable. First, the description of a consumer of fast food being a barbarian, stupid and sad, and even the victim of a virus, recalls almost literally a de-humanized man, devoted to the pursuit of low, materialistic or even diabolic aims, which many traditionalist authors have handed down. Moreover, the identification of speed as a fundamental feature of modern life (of industrial civilization) is also a topos of the critique of modernity dating back to the first reactions to the Industrial Revolution,4 and which today is echoed by many Italian intellectuals. Last, the equation of modernity to the worship of the machine is also a locus classicus of the critiques of the Industrial Revolution.5 It is above all striking that SF ignores the fact that fast food (i.e. food rapidly bought and eaten outside the home) has always existed, from ancient Rome to medieval China, from seventeenth-century France to pre-Columbian America. On the other hand, what is very recent and typical of modern bourgeois civilization save for limited circles of privileged people (Laudan, 2001: 389) is precisely the meal slowly consumed at the family table. It is therefore wrong to consider fast food as a modern phenomenon. By its own admission SFs hostility to fast food is due to cultural reasons: namely, fast food would upset the mores, the customs, the complex of habits and behaviours followed by a people, with no law to impose them. Fast food with its planetary standardization has totally erased these traditions, these mores, as regards eating and it is, by consequence, and in the etymological sense, immoral. Even conceding that consumers of fast food get the same pleasure from it [that] others get from a glass of Barolo or from a dinner in good company, SF would nonetheless object: how could we renounce the habits, rhythms and cultural layers which form our history, our identity, without incurring the risk of turning ourselves into barbarians? (Petrini, 2001: 35). The major weakness of this kind of criticism is that it is based on the untested conviction that consumption of certain products (comics, photo stories, quiz games or fast food) cannot be aesthetically enjoyed6 and cannot have another rational justification; the success of that product, therefore, must be due to propaganda such as mass media or advertising, to mass conformism, or to the decay and debasement of culture. But the premises of this argument are not only elitist7 but unproven. These prejudices prevent SF from recognizing that fast food, like other mass products, attracts consumers not because of their lack of culture or the hypnotic influence of media and advertising, but because it can be consumed quickly and at a low price by people without much time and/or money. These are quite reasonable motives, which by themselves are wholly capable of explaining the success of fast food (Jones et al., 2003: 302ff), with no need to assume decay or debasement. SFs position clearly derives from the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s, as do many other contemporary social movements (so-called critical consumption, fair trade, purchase groups, etc.), which have recently attracted the attention of sociologists (Sassatelli, 2004; Ceccarini, 2008; Leonini and Sassatelli, 2008). Such roots in counterculture also

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become apparent through SFs conviction that the future can be modified and guided by the consumption choices of individuals:
In a world where the sensorial deprivation produces a dulling of our faculties of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and sniffing, the training of the senses becomes an act of resistance against the destruction of taste and against the annihilation of knowledge. It becomes a true political act . . . The gourmet, from this viewpoint, may see himself as a privileged person who can distinguish and who, guided by a sensitivity which does not respond to the distractions of industrial civilisation, can direct the future. (Petrini, 2005: 801)

The ingredients of counterculture are all present here: the dulling of the senses and of the conscience, the transmission of stimulus, the conditioning, the repression of the senses, which can be defeated by recovering what the system wants to cancel, i.e. our primitive perceptions (Petrini, 2005: 801); and this return to spontaneity, genuineness and authenticity is not simply an act of individual protest, but a truly political, even a revolutionary act. Since the need to consume is induced by mass production, the intrinsic logic of these positions requires that the same need must be standardized, precisely like the products we are led to desire.8 The consumer society is seen as a system of rigid, inflexible uniformity; therefore, non-standard acts of consumption become politically radical acts. This is the basis of the theory of the rebel consumer (Heath and Potter, 2005: 11011). History has disproved this theory. The list of things in the past 50 years that were declared subversive, only to swiftly become mainstream, such as long hair, bikinis, jazz, scooters, tattoos, postmodernism, organic food, rock and punk, is impressive. However, none of the subversions they were thought to produce occurred. Therefore, we might ask: how many times can the system be subverted without any noticeable effect before we begin to question the means of subversion? (Heath and Potter, 2005: 152). But the truth is that consumer needs are not standardized and uniform; on the contrary, consumerism is driven not by a desire for uniformity, but for distinction (Sassatelli, 2004: 161ff). It is for this reason that anti-consumerist positions are so easily exploitable or recoverable by the system: because non-standard consumption confers distinction. No such thing as subversive consumption exists. On the contrary, anti-consumerist and countercultural positions, distracting the attention and passion of people from democratic institutions and from the drafting of truly effective reform policies, have facilitated the birth of a vociferous but practically ineffective radicalism (Heath and Potter, 2005: 69, 329). Even a quick look at the kinds of individual behaviour praised by SF confirms this conclusion. Having personal relations with producers and suppliers, as well as spending time at the table in good company, are costly and time-consuming activities: in other words, they are luxury goods. As a consequence, they confer distinction and are increasingly requested this is typical of the status-conferring product. The fact that non-standard, critical consumption produces effects that are exactly contrary to intention that is, it drives consumerism, thus creating new niche markets is perhaps unavoidable also for another reason. The anti-consumerist, critical consumerist and fair trade movements and the like are divided between a will to change existing

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economic behaviour, and therefore obtain effectiveness, and a desire to show their identity publicly. The first tendency is to seek ways of collaborating with the normal economy; the other avoids any contacts, in order to escape the risk of contamination or selling out (Ceccarini, 2008: 98 and passim; Leonini and Sassatelli, 2008: 1067 and passim). But the main psychological motive of critical consumers is a drive towards identity and self-gratification; and therefore it is likely that the same drive induces critical consumers to make increasingly symbolical choices. The centrality of pleasure claimed by SF has often raised the suspicion that the movement comprises only a band of gluttons; in many instances, SF has been forced to defend itself from such a charge. It is a crucial issue for the whole strategy of the movement. In fact SF has always claimed the right to gastronomic pleasure to be politically progressive, whereas it was traditionally considered to be a value of conservatives:
for the first time the left approached the issues of wine and conviviality, and claimed a right to pleasure. Which up to that time was thought to be reserved only to the upper-middle classes: conceited doctors, lawyers and journalists, intent only on putting a noble mask upon their guzzling. (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 21)

In the first place, it is difficult to understand why the term glutton should be an insult. Historically, gluttons have arisen from the decline of the dualistic food culture, in which on one side (for the great majority) there was penury and hunger, and on the other side (for a few) there was plenty and ostentation, with another minority in the middle (mainly religious) who considered abstinence from food to be a virtue. Gluttony could emerge and flourish only in affluent and egalitarian societies, in which conspicuous banquets are replaced by quiet dinners, thus transforming cooking from a public to a private affair (Laudan, 2004: 134; Capatti and Montanari, 2006 [1999]: 339). Gluttony is, after all, a hobby like any other. Moreover, even assuming that not all purchasers of quality products are middleaged and pleasure-seeking, one thing is certain: they are all affluent because the products promoted by SF are luxury goods, and as such they are necessarily intended for a minority. This point must be stressed, because SF is constantly concealing it. On the one hand, the emphasis the movement puts on hand-crafted and local produce implies a limited production, with obvious consequences for prices; it is not by chance that SF itself imposes quantitative limits on producers.9 On the other hand, it is the nature of quality goods that makes them products that only have quality as opposed to mass or standardized production; it is precisely for this reason that quality goods are capable of conferring status and distinction. SF not only has an ambition to promote good cooking and good wine in the world; it also wants to reach a public who, besides being affluent, feel guilty about it, and want to do something to mitigate their embarrassment. The masterstroke of SF lies exactly in having found a synthesis between the genuine desire to eat well and the need to be on the right side: in other words, in having reconciled food and engagement. And this is why the movement is forced to disown the glutton, who is intrinsically a disengaged character. The political programme of SF which should allow its members to feel at ease with their own conscience consists of changing the food habits and the methods of

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food production of the whole world. It is clear that, in the face of such an immense task, the actual nature of the food whose consumption is promoted by SF becomes rather embarrassing and must therefore be concealed as much as possible. How could one seriously claim to feed the world with Colonnata lard, Zeri lamb, Ustica lentils or Tortona strawberries (to say nothing of the gilded hunchbacked tench of Pianalto di Poirino or the Saluzzo white hen), washing all that down with a bottle of Barolo or Sciacchetr? Refusing the traditional negative connotation of the glutton implies a positive redefinition of the pleasures of the table. For instance, it is claimed that the pleasure preached by SF is not a hedonistic act which is an end in itself; rather, it should be combined with awareness and responsibility, study and knowledge because gastronomic pleasure, if it is not methodically taught, is halved. On the other hand, gastronomic pleasure is the premise for recovering slow and harmonious rhythms of life since, at the origins of our present predicament, there is a mistake, which should be urgently corrected: the breaking off of the pleasurehealth relation, which has consisted in the expulsion of pleasure from the universe of positive ethical and political values and its replacement with excess (Petrini, 2001: v, 46, 26, 24). Here we find clearly expressed the idea that pleasure plays a crucial role in the definition of a new society (which is further evidence of SFs direct derivation from counterculture). What is also striking is the presentation of pleasure as a right, a position previously contained in its founding manifesto. As a consequence, if pleasure is a moral right, then an education, an ethics of taste becomes necessary, to guarantee it (Petrini, 2001: 74). Such a conclusion, however, is not inevitable. First, the fact that pleasure is a right is by no means self-evident. And if education is necessary, other difficulties arise. In order to own a right, it is not education that is needed, but the law to establish it and institutions to protect it. Probably realizing the weakness of this position, SF adds another argument: that food is culture. It is necessary to give centrality back to food, so that food and its production recover their rightful centrality among human activities. And the reason is that food is the main factor in defining human identity, since what we eat is always a cultural product (Petrini, 2005: 21, 32). That food is a cultural product is true, but this does not prove the conclusion. If being a cultural product is what makes an activity the main factor in defining human identity, then all other human activities are equally main factors, and therefore food cannot be the central one. In any case, SF promotes a detailed education, starting from the first years in the life, in which tastes and distastes are formed (Petrini, 2001: 75, 78); in fact, SFs educational initiatives are multiplying.10 The aims of such an education are ambitious: calling the masters of material culture to teach us how to avoid the chaos of fast life, thus turning upside down an ideology which has always put the body and its needs into second place after abstract knowledge. The goal to be pursued in education should be that of staying well with oneself and with others, of reaching a somatic and libidic equilibrium (Petrini, 2001: 79, 76). From the necessity to educate taste it is only a few steps to an idea that is no less daring: that gastronomy is a science. Gastronomy, for SF, does not simply mean eating well: first, because this would imply sharing the commonplace which looks at the history of nutrition economy and subsistence and at the history of gastronomy culture

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and pleasure as separate; and, second, because in so doing, one takes into consideration only a small fraction, perhaps the less noble fraction, of the complex system of roots which are at the basis of our food. Unfortunately, to the great annoyance of SF, the view that gastronomy is a science is not widespread. Nonetheless, according to SF, not only is it a science, it is even a complex science a sort of super-science encompassing all others, since it studies aspects of nature and culture which all fall within the scope of each particular science (Petrini, 2005: 512). However, paradoxically, real science is viewed with extreme suspicion by SF: because it is reductionist and quantitative, because it denies that some senses may serve the interpretation of reality, because it is allied to productivism, and because it refuses to grant equal dignity to traditional knowledge. It is necessary not to establish new hierarchies; on the contrary, we should make room for all kinds of progress:
The producers of good, clean and fair food (most of them peasants), those who are not yet irreparably marked by the breaking of the umbilical cord with the earth, possess a knowledge which cannot be learnt at school, which cannot be calculated by mathematical formulas, but which is the result of a symbiotic relationship with creation which many among us on this Earth have lost. (Petrini, 2005: 181ff)

This is, however, a shallow vision. For example, the idea that science must be evaluated and discussed not on the basis of its methods or results, but on the basis of its practical goals for which it is or can be employed, is untenable (and also recalls the traditionalist critiques of science);11 also, the description of modern science as reductionist and merely quantitative is neither well grounded nor original, to say nothing of the irrationality that SF attributes to the traditional knowledge of peasants and artisans, as if it were transmitted not through education and communication but through contact or magic (the symbiotic relationship with creation). In sum, this obsession for cultural recognition goes together with a great distrust of science, which SF is always ready to doubt, apodictically distinguishing between good and bad science (Petrini, 2001: 1089; Capatti, 1997), or irresponsibly adopting scientific theories and proclaiming them,12 totally distorting their meaning, even years after the same theories have been radically confuted. This is a strange mixture of uncritical belief in scientific theories and uncritical disbelief in scientific method. Two good examples of this are SFs attitude towards food miles13 and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).14 In SFs system, a crucial role is played by the critique of industrial agriculture and by praise of traditional farming. The history of Western agriculture is seen by SF as a gradual but unstoppable passage from naturalness to unnaturalness (Petrini, 2005: 22). However, the concept of naturalness, if applied to agriculture, looks very problematic. In fact, since none of the plants grown by man exist in nature, and since the history of agriculture has been the history of mankind until the nineteenth century (Diamond, 2005 [1997]: 158ff; Grigg, 1982: 15), one must conclude that agriculture like most human activities is an artificial intervention in nature, an alteration of it and even a violence towards it (which in antiquity required the appropriate rites of expiation and purification);15 in fact the artificiality of agriculture is common knowledge in

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Western culture.16 Obviously this does not mean that because all agricultural activities are unnatural, all of them are admissible; it does mean, however, that naturalness cannot be the watershed between what can and cannot be done in agriculture because naturalness does not exist. Conversely, for SF, agriculture became unnatural only recently, with the green revolution, i.e. after the triumph of chemistry (in the shape of fertilizers, pesticides) and inputs foreign to millennial ecosystems (Petrini, 2005: 22), and the end of growing and breeding only native varieties and races, which, being inserted into the ecosystem which saw their birth and evolution, guarantee the conservation of that ecosystem. In the first place, do such things as millennial ecosystems and native varieties and races actually exist? Petrini and SF are shocked by the fact that today the square peppers of Asti are being replaced by a Dutch variety, and that in place of their peppers, the Asti farmers grow tulips, which, according to SF, would be one of the paradoxes of agriculture combined with so-called globalization: peppers which cross boundaries and mountains in exchange for tulips ... thus upsetting two agricultural traditions which rendered them typical and obviously well suited to their original ecosystems (Petrini, 2005: 56). Unfortunately, however, since peppers arrived in Europe from America in the sixteenth century (the same century that tulips arrived in Europe from Turkey), there was neither any upsetting of agricultural tradition nor any product well suited to their original ecosystems; in any case, it is difficult to see why introducing a new variety was good in the sixteenth century but a paradox today. A sixteenth-century SF would have prevented, among other things, the creation of the famous Asti pepper soup. The truth is that there are no agricultural products well suited to their original ecosystems because there are no original agricultural ecosystems. The products of agriculture and breeding are the most globalized on earth. Naturalness is often evoked but rarely defined.17 For example, it is considered to be a sine qua non of food quality:
the quality of a food product is greater the more natural that product is. Natural is not equivalent to organic: we are speaking of a system, not of a certified method of production. Natural means no additives, preservatives, flavourings or technologies of production that upset the naturalness of the processes of working, breeding, growing, etc. (Dizionario di SF, Qualit)

However, using the concept of natural systems or processes to define a natural product is a vicious circle. Unavoidably, SF finds itself lost within labyrinths of distinctions so subtle as to eclipse even the Jesuit casuistry mocked by Pascal.18 SFs critique of modern industrial agriculture is also based on other premises. The main one is that, notwithstanding the increase in the extent of cultivated land, the use of fertilizers, water consumption and pollution, output is still not sufficient to feed everyone (Petrini, 2005: 245). On the contrary, agro-industry in some way gave us the illusion that the food problems of mankind could be solved (Petrini, 2005: 20). So we would conclude that these problems could be solved and that all other efforts must stop in order to return to the old ways. But SF explains neither how we could get back to the previous situation nor how we could (once we did so) feed the present world population. The focus of SFs attention is in fact elsewhere:

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food and its production must recover their centrality and the criteria guiding our actions need to be reassessed. The problem in fact is no more the quantity of food produced but its complex quality . . . The goal is to improve concretely the life of all, but without imposing a model of development which is no longer sustainable. (Petrini, 2005: 201)

But if the question is no longer the quantity of food produced, why should the green revolution be a disaster? And, conversely, how could one claim to improve concretely the life of all without solving the problem of hunger? It is difficult to avoid the impression that beyond hollow declarations of principle SF has no interest at all in the actual inequalities in the access to food. In fact, SF has very few suggestions to offer on the question of how to increase farm production.19 This is not surprising, since SF is convinced that the hunger problem is not due to underproduction.20 This, however, contradicts the claim that the green revolution has been unable to solve the hunger problem. Because either the production is equal to needs (and then it is not true that modern agriculture is a failure) or else production is already insufficient and will become more so in the future21 (and then it becomes urgent to explain how to increase it, what kind of agriculture should replace the present one, and how people would be fed without re-creating either mass hunger or the two-tier food system typical of pre-industrial societies). But the only clear message is that SF wants to stop industrial agriculture (what it calls a pure contradiction): what we need is to deindustrialize agriculture (Petrini, 2005: 117). Once again, SF claims that it is necessary to refuse all that is unnatural and introduces an unsustainable artifice within the dialectic relation between man and earth: in other words, it is necessary to eliminate pesticides and chemical fertilizers, to renounce intensive agriculture, and to limit ourselves to native species and varieties. What SF is thinking of is not organic farming22 but rather traditional agriculture returning to pre-existing methods and techniques (Dizionario di SF, Agricoltura) which, although it does not exclude all innovation in principle, is nonetheless embedded in a social structure considered to be immutable. The very idea of a traditional agriculture, however, like that of a natural one, is wrong, given that the history of agriculture is an almost uninterrupted succession of revolutions and innovations (Mazoyer and Roudart, 2002: 411ff; Slicher Van Bath, 1972 [1962]: 413ff). Therefore we are facing the paradox of a movement that objects to industrial and intensive farming because it are unable to solve the hunger problem, only to put in its place an agriculture that would produce even less, or (in order to maintain at least approximately the present level of output) would cause enormous environmental damage due to the need for widespread deforestation (Sala, 2005:109; Poli, 2001: 152ff; Borlaug, 2000: 488). It is not surprising, then, that SF doubts the need for growth for reasons that are at best questionable. Its theory is based on catastrophic data (the collapse of biodiversity, an exponential increase in consumption), which, contrary to what SF believes, are not facts, but hypotheses which have been greatly criticized (Grigg, 1982: 21ff; Tietenberg, 2006 [2004]: 299ff). Lacking a consensus on the limits to growth, taking for granted that our system is a capitalism which can be translated into the most extreme and egoistic individualism, into the debasing, and to the wasting, of all common goods. Goods like land and water, peace

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and happiness (Petrini, 2005: 183) becomes only an a priori position, based on the distortion of elementary concepts. For instance, it is by no means certain that common goods are endangered by capitalism, since one could object that only the economic and technological progress produced by capitalism guarantees better protection for these goods, and has even generated, in the minds of the majority, a sense of their importance and the need to protect them. Moreover, there is a fundamental confusion about the meaning of common goods (commons), which is not synonymous with exhaustible resources, but indicates those goods that are (in the parlance of economics) both nonexcludable and rival in consumption. Thus, diamonds and oil are not commons, but beaches, water and fish are. The reason why commons are facing the risk of exhaustion or excessive consumption (known in economics as the tragedy of the commons) is not the immorality or egoism of consumers, but the impossibility of limiting access to those goods; it follows although this conclusion has never been drawn by SF that one way to protect the commons is to privatize them. It would also be necessary to explain clearly which new and more sustainable system should replace capitalism. In fact, SF adds anti-consumerist positions (downshifting, fair trade) to vague vindications of the right of people to take care of their own nutrition and freely and democratically to decide the kind of agriculture they prefer. But, because nobody denies this right, we may wonder why SF is assuming that decisions are taken undemocratically. Moreover, this defence of freedom of choice is contradicted by SFs adamant conviction that only one way is possible: peasant agriculture is fundamental for the struggle against GMOs, and in defence of biodiversity, food sovereignty, the farmers standard of living, the occupation of empty lands, the protection of the environment, and against the agro-chemical and agro-food multinationals (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 168). If SFs idea of sustainability remains vague, we should not expect that its attempts to describe a new kind of sustainable development are any better defined: sustainability, being a vague concept (like naturalness), cannot be used to define a process. And in fact SF is forced to introduce a new paradigm to describe its brave new world. The Mother Earth (Terra Madre) movement is supposed be an example of a truly sustainable development, unconnected to the idea of economic growth at all costs, but connected to the idea of human growth, to the diffusion of a common good (Petrini, 2005: 201; Petrini, 2009: 17ff). This new development should create:
new alternative values: gratuitousness, an economy independent of money, an economic evaluation (not monetization) of non-material goods and of specific abilities, innovative and sustainable rules for the distribution of products, an extended right to mobility, a reciprocal enrichment based on different human experiences, a new dignity for traditional knowledge and for peasant life. (Petrini, 2005: 209)

For this to happen, we cannot help relying upon the new technologies (Petrini, 2005: 201). It is to be noted that SF remembers industry and progress only when it needs them, but is ready to forget their existence once they have delivered. Technological progress is also considered as already given, independent of what Marx called the relations of production: SF never wonders how a society of small farmers could survive, what institutions it would create, how it would obtain the necessary capital, and how it

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would experience or promote technological progress. This system (never defined) can and must work because it is the way progressively to correct some macroscopic distortions of our food system (Petrini, 2005: 210) note the inadvertent and simplistic passage from the normative plan to the descriptive one. In this new world a predisposition to gift, to gratuitousness would eventually emerge (we are told neither how nor why):
giving without asking, but being assured of getting back because we are on the same level, with the same dignity and the same predisposition to let other people grow up, being aware of the existence of limits and taking care not to go beyond those limits only in order to gain money and lose humanity. (Petrini, 2005: 243)

From this tirade we gather that the great novelty proposed by SF is nothing less than a return to primitive society, in which institutions such as the potlatch and the gift represent the basis of the socio-economic system (Latouche, 2007: 44, 46). It was, as we now know after decades of interdisciplinary studies,23 the kind of society which not only suffered from a systematic scarcity, but which, like all pre-industrial societies,24 far from being more human and generous than modern ones, was actually based on robbery, violence and the systematic exploitation of nature and other people.25 But SF ignores this debate. The new concept of the development of SF is paradoxical for another reason as well. According to SF:
no one can be saved if he is not allowed to know, to realise that he, too, owns material wealth ... The goal of the future Presdia of SF in underdeveloped areas shall be to recover and spread traditional knowledge, making it a source of development and welfare. The poor countries are actually rich in an extraordinary heritage of vegetable and animal species, in ancient local knowledge, in unexploited human potential. (Petrini, 2001: 1023)

There is, therefore, no such thing as a poor country: the secret of development lies not in producing more food, more water, more education, more hospitals, more drugs, more roads or more houses. Development entails simply convincing the underdeveloped countries that they are already rich admittedly, a very cheap solution (and a gross misunderstanding of the true nature of underdevelopment).26 Moreover, there are ecosystems based on animal species which allow a community to live prosperously (Petrini, 2001: 66). But how? Through an entry in the SF guide (known as Food Planet) and consequent notoriety within the glutton community. Thus the very survival and prosperity of the traditional community presupposes the existence of rich consumers, and consequently of developed countries (and one should also ask how this situation could be supported by SF, which is a fierce critic of transport and tourism).27 The basic unit of this new kind of development would be the rural community with its rites, its feasts, its social relationships, its agricultural practices, its beliefs. Such rural communities are composed of fishermen, peasants, dairy farmers, cooks and innkeepers. Called food communities, they should be the elementary units from which we should start anew: food communities have a strategic importance in designing a new

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society ... The communities, in fact, are based on feeling, on fraternity, on the refutation of egoism (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 169, 203). Actually, it is not that difficult to become a member of these communities: in particular, one does not need to produce anything. In fact:
consuming is difficult today, even more than producing ... Consumption can no more hide what is actually its true meaning, that is, tear, wear, destruction, progressive exhaustion. Therefore, we must change our attitude, and first of all our words. Consumption is the final act of the production and distribution process: it is to be seen as such, and no longer as external to the process. The old consumer must therefore begin to feel somehow part of the productive process, understanding it, influencing it with his preferences, supporting it in case of difficulty, opposing it when it is wrong or unsustainable. The old consumer, today a new gourmet, must begin to feel like a co-producer. (Petrini, 2005: 165)

This whole passage,28 which has a striking similarity to a passage by Ruskin,29 is weakened by a complete misunderstanding of the relationship between production and consumption. Consumption is not the final act of the productive process but simply the other face of production (we produce so that others may consume, we produce what others consume, and we consume what others produce). One cannot be separated from the other; the addition of personal knowledge is wholly superfluous, and in most cases impossible. What the wrong model envisaged by SF is remains a mystery (if someone kills a cow and sells me a steak, this is consumption whether the steak was bought in a supermarket or in a food community); but if there is one, surely it lies in the conviction that vaguely feel[ing] somehow part of the productive process is sufficient to transform the consumer magically into a co-producer. Not to mention that it is unclear why such a relationship of co-production should exist for food but not for all the other products on sale. It is difficult not to share the words used by Marx and Engels against similar opinions in the eighteenth century:
His real difficulties begin when he wishes to prove that he produces when he consumes ... This is moreover the same sort of argument that the aristocracy, the clergy, the rentiers, etc., have always used to prove their own productivity ... Since he knows nothing of the real relations of production and consumption, he has to take refuge in human essence ... For the same reason, he insists on proceeding from consumption instead of from production. If you proceed from production, you necessarily concern yourself with the real conditions of production and with the productive activity of men. But if you proceed from consumption, you can set your mind at rest by merely declaring that consumption is not at present human, and by postulating human consumption, education for true consumption and so on. You can be content with such phrases, without bothering at all about the real living conditions and the activity of men. It should be mentioned in conclusion that precisely those economists who took consumption as their starting-point happened to be reactionary and ignored the revolutionary element in competition and large-scale industry. (Marx and Engels, 1845)

We are dealing, in sum, with purely rhetorical exercises: idealizations of an imaginary past, of which SF selects only the appealing features, systematically forgetting all others. Thus the idea of a return to the Jeffersonian ideal of a government ruled by the values of a nation of farmers (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 2089) is greeted with enthusiasm by

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SF, without taking into consideration that one of those values was slavery. Similarly, when SF praises the traditional role of women in the food chain (Petrini, 2006: 6), we should also remember that for centuries the role of women was an extremely subordinate one, and that their emancipation in developed countries was achieved precisely by overthrowing this traditional role (Allen and Sachs, 2007: 15ff; Walter, 2008: 910). Moreover, food traditions, like the roles or social levels of a given cooking method, can be extremely different in space and time. Taking them as given once and for all, in lieu of considering them as a historical product, is a purely ideological operation:
It is a form of folkloric revival . . . i.e. one way in which contemporary society recovers the past overturning its meaning: a perfectly legitimate operation if done with the awareness of creating a new culture; an ambiguous and misleading operation, if one tries to smuggle it in as a simple repetition of the past. (Montanari, 2007 [2004]: 104)

And this leads to a series of reversals of historical truth. For instance, it leads us to believe that natural foods were always widespread in the past, although, in fact, they were always seen with suspicion, since they were considered unwholesome, at least until the advent of modern methods of industrial preservation and transport (Laudan, 2001: 368; Montanari, 2007: 21ff, 65ff). It also leads us to imagine that localness and seasonality were the traditional attributes of healthy, tasty food, whereas, conversely, local, seasonal food was left to the poor, while the rich diet of the privileged few included food of the most diverse origins.30 It leads us to believe in the existence of local traditional cuisines, whereas actually they, like most of the traditional recipes contained in our cookery books, are a recent phenomenon, and do not predate the Industrial Revolution (Laudan, 2001: 39; Capatti and Montanari, 2006: 101). Finally, it leads us to think that the genuineness and pleasantness of food were a prerogative of the countryside, whereas the city has always been the place where food was more abundant and tastier (Laudan, 2001: 39; Capatti and Montanari, 2006: 101). From this viewpoint, SF fits perfectly into that pastoral ideology of the countryside that emerged in eighteenth-century England: nostalgic discourses on an allegedly uncontaminated nature were developed by the bourgeoisie in order to create visions of idyllic lifestyles, which actually never existed and whose only function was to idealize a deep desire for stability, served to cover and to evade the actual and bitter contradictions of the [present] time, as well as to promote superficial comparisons and to prevent real ones (Williams, 1978 [1973]: 45, 54). The invention by SF of an unhistorical, mythical and romantic past has also been noted by many others (Jones et al., 2003: 303; Roos et al., 2007: 7). In particular, it is striking to note the neglect of history and the misunderstanding of the present among the members of SF USA discovered by Gaytn. These people ascribe cultural value only to food traditions originating far away from the USA in space or time; they complain of the absence of traditions in America and are busy creating new ones under the shape of particular cultural moments; they impute the end of family meals to the fact that now she [the woman] doesnt want to be a stay-at-home mom; she wants to have a career. Then who does the cooking?; they denounce the lack, in the United States, of Europeanlike artisans, and therefore they propose public financial support for American artisans as a way of restoring culture. In other words, they employ recycled discourses from the

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past and operate within a new global collective imaginary that draws from an established hierarchy of culture, [so that] they are almost always limited by the boundaries of the elite hierarchies on which they rely, and thus they exclude non-European and urban working-class expressions of culture from articulations of resistance (Gaytn, 2004: 13, 16, 17, 18). This vision of tradition is purely mythical. Above all, it does not recognize:
the conditions of inequity or oppression often inherent within the preservation of tradition whether they are socio-economic differences limiting access to education and opportunity or a gender tradition in which the labour of women in the kitchen bears the responsibility for maintaining harmony in the family home and preserving the cultural traditions of society. (Donati, 2005: 2356)

Far from seriously making progress towards changing the present state of things, SF ends by fetishizing cultural differences and sentimentalizing struggles for cultural or economic survival (Donati, 2005: 239). And yet, SF attributes the miraculous virtues of its new society and economy to the final triumph of its food communities nothing less than the birth of a new humanity. It wants in fact to create a more pleasant type of human being. S/he is:
an attentive consumer, full of curiosity, wishing to be personally engaged and to learn, a regular customer of restaurants and cellars . . . He [sic] participates in events like the Brotherly Tables, projects to bring help to some parts of the world plagued by wars, famines, misery ... a person who, at the table as well as in his everyday life, shows a peculiar style of behaviour in which curiosity and tolerance, self-consciousness and good-will, slowness and competence combine. A sagacious consumer, who is capable of substantially influencing the menus offered by small restaurants, as their managers know perfectly well. (Petrini, 2001: 54)

To summarize, this new man is a consumer. Nothing is said on his social rank, his job or profession, his practical life. And this complete neglect of the sphere of production is very significant. What is certain is that this new man has both leisure time and money, since he is a regular at restaurants and inns, participates in philanthropic events, etc. He is, moreover, a member of a non-exclusive elite: a meaningless oxymoron, particularly since this elite seems to have, as its greatest ambition, nothing more than influencing (albeit substantially) the menus offered by ... restaurants. The ideological nature of this image is clearly shown when, on the subject of the impact of long supply chains on food prices, SF promotes not legislative changes but moral reform: the utilitaristic and individualistic spirit of the merchant . . . must be corrected into a more altruistic path, or at least in a communitarian direction. Thus, for example, in order to eliminate speculation, it would suffice that traders limit their quest for profit, up to the point, where necessary, of disappearing. Naturally, the forms of commerce which SF takes into consideration are the little shops and other forms of direct commerce; and within the framework of a general reduction of the number of middlemen, the trader should guarantee a control of prices, which must be fair for both sellers and buyers (Petrini, 2005: 231, 234). This is not only a simplistic position (which is also very common in the critical consumption movements), it is also typical

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of reactionary thinking to believe that there can exist something like a fair price or even a fair distribution among the different factors of production 31 that is, abstracting from the actual relations of production. It is also typical of SF to believe that moral reform can by itself change the structures of production.32 SFs recovery of rural values includes this is also typical of a certain contemporary Italian ideology sobriety, moderation and thrift, all of which are characteristically seen as moral qualities and as a return to the idea of limiting oneself (Petrini, 2005: 248, 1257; Cassano, 2005 [1996]: xxviiiff). In turn they are conceived as capable in themselves of determining the optimal dimensions of economic activity and even of the civil community. And so SF comes to the point of distinguishing between good and bad or even criminal consumption practices (Greco and Scaffidi, 2007: 83ff, 90). A significant part of SFs activity consists of the protection of wine and food specialities at risk of extinction: hence events such as the Ark of Taste. The name makes one think of a conservative spirit, but, Petrini explains, in truth, none of us believed in the old little world, but everything led us to think it was better to defend it, because, when the floodgates are opened, the only safety is the Ark. SF wishes to present itself as a movement struggling for food biodiversity and against standardization. The defence against standardization quickly turns into a defence against globalization: everywhere food expresses cultural distinctions, it is the first way to identify a people. This is why we must defend that heritage against globalisation (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 153). Then follows a critique of the present system, in which:
the equilibrium between the local and the global dimension has totally disappeared, [in which] those who decide what is in our food are no longer ourselves, or cooks, or our trusted shopkeepers, but the rules of the global market: so ... we give up the richness of a diet in accordance with the seasons in order to consume tomatoes in January rather than thistles and turnip greens ... we are no longer capable of giving up the privilege of eating Chile cherries in December and so on. Who gains from this situation? Clearly not the peasant producers and not the citizen consumers, as we know all too well. (Burdese, 2008: 18)

One may ask how a system could survive if it is good for neither producers nor consumers; why eating food out of season, which was once the privilege of kings and noblemen and is today within reach of all pockets, should be despised; and last but not least, why all such things should be clear. Nobody will deny that it is more than reasonable, and even praiseworthy, to preserve a food or a processing method; but SF pretends to disguise a crusade aimed at saving rare products which in the pre-industrial economy found few purchasers due to their high price, and which therefore can succeed today only because, thanks to industrialization and economic development, a sufficiently large and rich group of consumers has emerged33 as an operation which will somehow restore the pre-industrial and rural culture (a culture which, moreover, did not exist in the terms imagined by SF). This implies a total misunderstanding of the real situation: it is the very existence of modern industrial society that makes it possible, by creating a market, to preserve the rarest and costliest products. In other words, it is not the limitation of the market but rather its expansion that ensures their survival; it is not the reduction of consumption but its increase that enables us to preserve varieties and breeds that are at risk (Laudan, 2001: 43).

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But the ideological disguise cannot hide the real nature of this enterprise, which is commercial promotion: on the Ark, we should take on board only products with a commercial future, capable of obtaining superior prices because they possess excellent organoleptic qualities (Petrini, 2001: 96). It is, in sum, a marketing operation, aimed not only at attracting a young public, but also at revolutionizing the traditional social classification of the gourmet. The new leftist gluttons may be affluent people too, but they will no longer feel guilty for wishing to eat well: in fact, they will combine the love of good cooking with political engagement. This combination is achieved through a skilful connection to a critique of mass culture, in particular the anti-consumerist and critical consumption movements. This is the real programme of SF. And the entire ideology of the movement is oriented towards this goal. Petrini has often claimed that in mass-produced agriculture brought in by multinational companies, poverty and hunger are neither right-wing nor left-wing issues (Petrini and Padovani, 2005: 157). Perhaps this is true, but what does distinguish the right and the left are the solutions to those problems. The solutions proposed by SF (the return to a traditional, pre-industrial, extensive or even subsistence farming) do not look very promising, not to mention SFs critique and rejection of technical and scientific progress, of science itself (which, SF believes, should abandon all claims to hegemony and accept a dialogue between equals with the traditional knowledge), and of economic growth. Moreover, the same concepts used by SF in order to criticize modern agriculture and industry naturalness, sustainability and tradition are inaccurate, devoid of any concrete historical content, and ultimately unworkable. The portrait of the slow man (sic) is that of a person rich in money and leisure time. The fact that the means that enable the slow man to exert his taste and his senses originate precisely from the diabolical activities of speed, industrialization and standardization in short, capitalism is something that SF does not even notice. And SF does not realize that such a way of life cannot be affordable below a given level of income, and so cannot be the basis for a new model of development because it presupposes development to be precisely what is occurring at the moment. This removal of real concrete processes, this total obliviousness to or misunderstanding of historical processes is a typical feature of ideology. Moreover, attributing to pre-industrial, backward or even primitive societies the leisure to think, to cultivate human relations, etc., is a pure myth. Developed societies are in fact only those that can afford to lose time, since increases in productivity allow them to produce more in less time. Rather, traditional pre-industrial, underdeveloped societies are those that devote most of their time to production for their own subsistence, that are most obsessed with production, and that exploit natural resources most mercilessly and endanger the environment.34 The result, then, is the denigration of progress, together with praise for the little local communities and the re-evaluation of atavistic traditions. This is not a novelty either: reactionary thought has always cherished strong connections with places, because only in the local dimension can traditions survive, and only the linkage to the particular can protect traditional society from the attacks of rationalism. But the paradox is that the traditions envisaged by SF, especially the culinary ones, are recent phenomena, resulting from the disappearance of pre-industrial peasant civilization; at the same time, they are ideological attempts to replace a real past with a pastoral countryside that is totally

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fictitious. The goal of this operation is, historically, to placate the anxieties of the new hegemonic class, transferring back into a distant past the ideals of peace, quietness and harmony it cannot find in the present. The real traditional society praised by SF was one in which class and gender differences were enormous, social mobility was practically non-existent, and most of the population lacked sufficient food. The end of that deeply unjust and oppressive system is precisely due to the victory of that technical progress and economic growth that SF considers to be the root of all evil. I have described the main myths on which SFs ideology is based: those of nature, tradition and limit, the critique of progress, the suspicion of science, praise of the traditional role of women, connection with the land the list itself sounds eloquent. The stratagem that allows SF, as well as other contemporary political ideologies, to present this position as progressive consists in connecting the critique of economic development, scientific and technical progress, and industrialization a critique which is in itself very ancient to the critique of imperialism and ethnocentrism on the one hand and consumerism and mass culture on the other. Conservatism and reaction contain important truths and are capable of activating that beneficial dialectic which is both the basis of and the justification for politics. But in order to be fruitful all dialectic presupposes that one party does not disguise itself as the other. If SF were to present itself as a movement of gourmets, no harm could be done. But when it claims to know the secret formula for protecting biodiversity, feeding the starving and even creating new sustainable growth, then there is a danger that the best for the few is the enemy of the good for the many (Laudan, 2004: 143). As long as there are starving people in the world, the way to help them is not to maintain culinary and agricultural traditions, but to change them. The fact that a movement like SF anti-progressive, anti-scientific, worshipping traditional societies, fond of the little stratified and perennial communities in which the place of each is eternally fixed and immutable, uninterested in and ignorant of history and the realities of production, and thus incapable of seeing the inextricable contradictions and historical fictions that riddle this vision might be considered left-wing in Italy today is something that deserves close study and should create in all those who care for the future of our country more than a passing worry. Acknowledgements
An extensive treatment of this topic is to be found in my book Mangi chi pu, meglio, meno e piano: lideologia di Slow Food (Florence: Pagliai, 2010). See also The Ideology of Slow Food, an electronic article in English (www.rachellaudan.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ the-ideology-of-slow-food2.pdf) and Italian (www.salmone.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ lideologia-di-slow-food.pdf). The electronic article is significantly longer than and substantially different from the present one in the Journal of European Studies.

Notes
1 2 The former is the weak meaning of ideology, the latter is the strong one, following a distinction proposed by Bobbio (1977 [1962]: 11415). See also Stoppino (1983: 512). On the agreement with Brazil, see Donati (2005: 238ff), who also mentions the fundraising of 2.6 million in order to finance Terra Madre in 2004. On the agreement with Coop (an Italian department store), see Fonte (2005: 8ff) and Petrini (2001: 63).

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5 6 7 8 9 10 11

12 13 14

15 16

See the SF website at www.slowfood.com/about_us/eng/mission.lasso. The number of references, from the dark satanic mills of William Blake to William Morris and beyond, would be immense. Here it is sufficient to mention Zolla (1971 [1959]: 10ff). Some acknowledgement of this point appears even in an apologetic text such as Parkins and Craig (2006: 53). Quotations would be endless. It is sufficient to mention Carlyles passage on the Age of Machinery (Carlyle, 1971 [1829]: 645). See also Zolla (1973 [1964]: 17). Critics have a tendency to dismiss popular taste, to imagine that people couldnt really like McDonalds food or really enjoy listening to Celine Dion (Heath and Potter, 2005: 239). The problem is studied with unparalleled finesse by Williams (1989 [1961]: 305ff). Whenever you look at the list of consumer goods which (according to the critic) people dont really need, what you invariably see is a list of consumer goods that middle-aged intellectuals dont need (Heath and Potter, 2005: 108). Standardization is in fact seen as a natural consequence of the contemporary industrial logic (Dizionario di SF, Territorio), and fighting it is one of the original goals of SF (Dizionario di SF, Ecogastronomia). For an extreme position, see Capatti (2004). Fonte (2005: passim). Limits on quantity are systematically imposed by SF on the products which are to enter the Ark of Taste (Arca del Gusto): see rule 4 on SFs website: www.fondazioneslowfood.it/ita/arca/criteri.lasso. See them listed in Petrini (2006). See also Chrzan (2003) and Methfessel (2002). This approach is intrinsically reactionary because it leads to science being considered an evil (and to conclude that science and knowledge in general must be the privilege and the burden of a few). The inescapable conclusion was famously expressed by Maistre (1884 [1811]: 303): la science resserre est un bien; trop rpandue, cest un poison. For a modern example, see Zolla (1973: 17). See, typically, the assurance with which SF relates uncertain data (Dizionario di SF, Biodiversit). See also Laudan (2004: 141) and Lomborg (2007 [1998]: 251ff). See Petrini (2005: 124). On food miles in general, see Pretty et al. (2005); Smith et al. (2005); Saunders and Hayes (2007); Schlich and Fleissner (2005). See Petrini (2001: 104ff); Petrini (2005: 119); Petrini and Padovani (2005: 256). For a comprehensive refutation of some commonplaces on biotechnology largely shared by SF, see: Poli (2001: 219ff); Lomborg (2007: 342ff); Sala (2005); Bressanini (2009); Pascale (2008); Meldolesi (2001). See, for example, the ceremonies described by Cato (2000: 1389, 1427). Thus Leopardi (1976 [1827]: 181) wrote: most of what we call natural, is not, but is instead artificial. And Cattaneo (1972 [1852]: 76) said: agrarian industry is a part of the commercial life of the peoples, it does not rise from natural ingenuity, by bucolic inspiration; but it comes over time from the institutions and laws which open access to land to capital and industry.

17

Not that there have been no attempts in this direction. See, for example, Perullo (2006), who, however, does not go beyond repeating that the concept of naturalness (never defined) is not an unhistorical, conservative or reactionary concept. Or see Scaffidi and Masini (2007: 27), who burst into a tirade about the man/nature relationship, including an eloquent attack on the Enlightenment. 18 See, for example, this passage: The use of barriques is a cellar technique, which does not alter the wines naturalness. But is the use of a thickener, which alters the biochemical constituents of the grapes produced

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in that particular year, a natural procedure? Is it still only a cellar technique? Someone may say that thinning out the vines means altering the seasonal course of farming as well. But, after having conceded once and for all that we are not speaking of a return to the pure state of nature, that we are still speaking of an interaction of man with nature for producing food, we believe that thinning out is natural and therefore can produce wines of good quality, while thickening cannot. (Dizionario di SF, Qualit)

19 20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27

The vagueness of SF on this point is highlighted by Laudan (2004: 142): So we are left with the fact puzzling at first sight because of the socialist or communist background of the SF founders that SF has nothing to say about the plight of the hungry worldwide. An idea stressed also in the Dizionario di SF, under Fame. SF often declares its goal to be to replace quantity with quality: it is better eating less but better. See Petrinis interview with the New York Times of 26 July 2003, quoted in Sassatelli and Davolio (2006: 15). For the necessity of doubling production by 2050, see Mazoyer and Roudart (2002: 22); Tonelli and Veronesi (2007: 9ff, 62ff). Also farming which does not employ chemical products can be unsustainable if it is embedded in the agro-industrial system of food production (Petrini, 2005: 120). A debate among anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, classicists, economists, philosophers, etc., starting from the rediscovery of Marxs Forms which precede capitalist production, and stimulated by the work of Polanyi. An interesting survey can be found in Carandini (1979: 208ff). As explained, among others, by Cipolla (2002 [1974]: 31ff). See, in particular, p. 35: in those centuries gift and robbery as an alternative to exchange were economically more relevant than exchange itself. In particular, slavery was a typical characteristic of all Mediterranean societies: see Braudel (2002 [1949]: 7978); Horden and Purcell (2006 [2000]: 388). This does not consist in a lack of stock but in the inability to transform existing stocks into income. This point is noted by Laudan (2001: 423): If we romanticize the past, we may miss the fact that it is the modern, global, industrial economy ... that allows us to savour traditional, peasant, fresh, and natural foods ... Culinary Luddism, far from escaping the modern global food economy, is parasitic upon it.

28

29

A similar misunderstanding is also present in many contemporary movements of critical consumption. See Sassatelli and Davolio (2006: 6). For an interesting analysis of some contemporary restatements of the relations between production and consumption, see Sassatelli (2004: 135ff). Ruskin writes: consumption absolute is the end, crown, and perfection of production; and a wise consumption is a far more difficult art than wise production. Twenty people can gain money for one who can use it; and the vital question, for individual and for nation, is never how much do they make? but to what purpose do they spend? (1923 [1860]: 144)

30 31 32

Laudan (2001: 38); Montanari (2007: 23ff, 109ff); Dickie (2009 [2007]: 286); Braudel (1993 [1979]: 106). We must also mention the dinner of Trimalchio in Petronius. A very clear example is Ruskin (1923 [1860]: 85). See, for example, Lamennais (1948 [1834]: 55) (If you wish to destroy poverty, work to destroy sin, firstly in yourselves, then in the others, and serfdom in society); Carlyle (1971: 85) (all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what

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each begins and perfects on himself); and Sedlmayr (1974 [1948]: 347) (rather than amending the epoch, everybody should amend himself, his own self. Then all shall be in order, since the epoch consists in a plurality of individuals). 33 This is certainly not unknown to SF. See Petrini (2001: 101 or 59). See also Geier (2006: 74), Fort (2006: passim), or finally Sardo (2006: 16). 34 There would be thousands of references. Here it will suffice to quote Cipolla (2002: 87 and passim).

References
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Luca Simonetti is a business lawyer based in Rome. He is the author of various articles on legal topics including: The new co-operation approach under the Italian Antitrust Rules, European Competition Law Review (2008), and Wettbewerb und Internet: eine Perspektive nach italienischem Recht, Jahrbuch fr italienisches Rechts (2001). His most recent research interest focuses on biotechnology he has contributed an essay on GMO law to E Cadelo (ed.), Perch gli OGM (2011) degrowth and contemporary Italian ideology. His book on Slow Food, Mangi chi pu, meglio, meno e piano: lideologia di Slow Food was published in 2010.

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