Like Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Slow Food International founder Carlo Petrini knows the world is suffering from a ruinous eating disorder and can't continue to feed itself in pervasively unhealthy, inequitable, and unsustainable ways. But where those exposes were grim enough to drive a reader under the covers with a box of bonbons, the Italian Petrini has a plan with the pursuit of pleasure at its heart. In Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair (Rizzoli Ex Libris), he calls for a "new gastronomy" that rescues the term from its effete, elitist connotations and redefines it as a multidisciplinary science that requires its practitioners to think about their food. He's guided by three principles: the gastronome must train his or her senses to recognize and reward the delicious and nutritious, must know how food is produced to be sure it doesn't cause environmental harm, and must know the producers--in effect become a coproducer--to ensure they aren't exploited. While there's no guarantee that it'll play in Peoria, the book is both a philosophical treatise and a revolutionary manifesto about big problems and big ideas, anchored with vivid examples and real--if not easy or expedient--solutions. Petrini, who'll speak in Italian with a translator, will be joined by Slow Food U.S.A. executive director Erika Lesser. a Sat 5/19, 2 PM, Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago, 312-661-1028, ext. 40, or chfestival.org, $5, reservations strongly encouraged.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Slow Food/Alberto Peroli.