So does a Snail of Approval guarantee that a restaurant or shop is “Slow?”
No. We can’t make that kind of guarantee, and we don’t certify that any food or food business is “Slow.” A Snail of Approval means that Slow Food members think the recipient is making a real contribution to the kind of food system we believe in, and we think their effort is worthy of our support. What about a place where the food is great, but it’s not sustainably raised? Or a place that serves local foods, but has all imported wines? The Snail of Approval standards talk about food that makes “significant contributions to Quality and/or Authenticity and/or Sustainability.” The American food system is a long, long way from the good, clean and fair system that Slow Food envisions; in order to help us get there, we want to recognize those who are making real steps in the right direction. Let’s take a French restaurant, for example, that buys all its food from small local farms, but where the chef wants to pair French regional wines with his French regional dishes. He or she is not supporting the local wine industry, but is making contributions both to sustainable agriculture and to authentic French cuisine—not a bad day’s work. Whether those contributions add up to a Snail of Approval will be for Slow Food members to decide.
If I patronize Snail of Approval recipients, am I supporting Slow Food?
You’re not supporting the organization, but you are supporting the cause. When you eat at a Snail of Approval restaurant or shop at a Snail of Approval store, Slow Food doesn’t benefit financially, but the food system benefits a great deal. You’re supporting local farmers and food artisans, sustainable agriculture, and humane treatment of animals. You’re helping to stop agricultural pollution, reduce greenhouse gases, and slow the loss of biodiversity. You’re ensuring the survival of endangered heirloom varietals, heritage breeds, and traditional foodways.
Is the food from Snail of Approval providers organic?
Maybe, maybe not; you’ll have to ask. Organic agriculture certainly tends to be more sustainable than agriculture dependent on the overuse of chemicals. On the other hand, organic vegetables from China burn a lot of fuel getting all the way to Philadelphia, which might be much worse for the planet than using a little fertilizer on a Hastings tomato. And getting USDA Organic certification is expensive, so some small farms don’t bother, even though they use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.