Slow Food USA Presents New Executive Director and a Refocused Mission at Leadership Conference in New Orleans
Last month, as Slow Food DC Board Co-Chair, I was able to attend the national Slow Food Leadership Conference in New Orleans, LA. New Executive Director Richard McCarthy presented an energetic and promising refocusing of Slow Food’s mission to better serve local chapters, to grow and reinforce the Ark of Taste initiative, and to focus on equity and inclusion in all programs.
Stating that “democracy is at the root of food sovereignty,” McCarthy recognized that the strength of the Slow Food movement is its network – the local chapters doing the work to “meet people where they are.” Using the analogy of a pirate fleet, McCarthy likened Slow Food USA and its local chapters to small ships, each doing what they have to do but coming together when needed.
In addition to motivational speakers such as local farmer Ben Burkett whose family has farmed the same land for 124 years, the Conference included panel presentations on growing chapter leadership, using events to enhance your message, and how to grow the Ark of Taste to include more than 10,000 new foods. And, as this was a Slow Food Conference, attendees certainly ate well, enjoying the local bounty of New Orleans at a crawfish boil at New Orleans’ phenomenal Edible Schoolyard and a local sampling smorgasbord at the Bayou Boogaloo Festival where Slow Food New Orleans had a large hospitality tent. There were a number of neighborhood tours including an inside peak at the renowned Commander’s Palace restaurant with James Beard awardee Chef Tory McPhail, and a visit to an Ark of Taste garden preserving the Louisiana Mirliton. The national office pledged to grow and maintain infrastructure to support biodiversity programs, social inclusion, taste enjoyments, and upholding the dignity of labor through the Ark of Taste, awareness campaigns, internal and external convenings, and growing gardens. McCarthy and the fresh new national leadership team were eager for feedback from local chapters and candid about the work that needs to be done to really build the Slow Food movement.
All around, it was an uplifting conference that inspired great confidence in the future of Slow Food. We at Slow Food DC look forward to working more closely with the national office and growing our work to build a good, clean, and fair food system for all!