Slow Food: The History of an Idea

Slow Food was started by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in the 1980s with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. In over two decades of history, the movement has evolved to embrace a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture. Today Slow Food represents a global movement involving thousands of projects and millions of people in over 160 countries.


The first edition of Terra Madre Nordic takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Creation of the Indigenous Terra Madre Advisory Board. Founding of Slow Food in Russia.
Launch of the international Food for Change campaign.


The 1st edition of Terra Madre Burkina Faso takes place in Ouagadougou.
The 1st edition of Terra Madre des Grands Lacs takes place in Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo).
The 7th International Slow Food Congress takes place in Chengdu (China).
Slow Food launches the international communication and fundraising campaign “Menu for Change,” which highlights the relationship between food and climate change.


The first ever edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto held out in the open, from September 22-26, in Turin, Italy, including a series of conferences at the Carignano Theater. Over half a million people attended.
Terra Madre Balkans held in Tirana, Albania, from June 2-5.
Carlo Petrini was named Special Ambassador Zero Hunger for Europe by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in May.
Love the Earth, Defend the Future campaign moves Slow Food towards a more crowd-funded model of financing.


Slow Food Great China is born.
Slow Food hosts a pavillion at EXPO Milano, with exhibitions on biodiversity, vegetable gardens, raw milk cheeses and wine. As part of EXPO, from October 3-6 the “We Feed The Planet” event organized by Slow Food and Terra Madre Giovani brings 2500 young farmers across the world together to to redefine the future of food.
From November 3-7, Indigenous Terra Madre brings indigenous communities from across the world together in Shillong (Meghalaya, northeast India).
From December 12-13, Slow Food Festival – Central Europe is held in Krakow, Poland.


First edition of Slow Meat in Denver, USA.
Tenth edition of Salone del Gusto, and ten-year anniversary of the Terra Madre network in Turin, Italy. The BBC Food Programme participated as media partner of the Ark of Taste project, the main theme of the event.


AsiO Gusto, an event uniting the Slow Food network across Asia and Oceania, is held for the first time in Namyangju, South Korea.
Carlo Petrini receives the highest UN Environmental Award (Champion of the Earth).


Slow Food President Carlo Petrini addresses the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.
Carlo Petrini speaks at the “Global Food Security and Nutrition Dialogue” at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20.
The Sixth Slow Food International Congress also in Turin, welcomes 650 delegates from 95 countries and ratifies the new guiding policy document The Central Role of Food.
The ESSEDRA (Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas) project is launched to map the food biodiversity of the Balkans.


The Slow Europe campaign is launched, calling for European policies that promote sustainability, biodiversity protection and support for small-scale farmers.
The Shalakh apricot becomes the 1000th product to be included in the Ark of Taste.
Indigenous food communities from around the world came together at the first edition of Indigenous Terra Madre held in Jokkmokk, Sweden.
Regional Terra Madre meetings are held in Armenia, Austria, South Korea, Crimea, Japan, Russia and Switzerland.


Regional Terra Madre meetings are held in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Georgia and Kazakhstan, while in Bulgaria the first Terra Madre Balkans event is held.
Presidia from across the Balkans met at the Taste Festival of Ustikolina in Bosnia Herzegovina.
The Gardens in Africa project is launched.


Regional Terra Madre meetings are held in Tanzania, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Austria.
Eurogusto, a biennial event of food, taste and culture that unites the European Slow Food network, is held for the first time in France.
The Alliance between Chefs and Slow Food Presidia is launched, with restaurants commiting to use local Presidia products.
The first Terra Madre Day is celebrated on December 10 by communities around the world to mark Slow Food’s 20th anniversary. Around 200,000 people come together in 1,000 events in 150 countries..
The international Slow Fish network and campaign is launched.


Carlo Petrini is named one of the ‘50 people who could save the planet‘ by the British newspaper The Guardian.
The Terra Madre network organize national meetings in Ethiopia, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Slow Food USA organize Slow Food Nations, a huge celebration of quality sustainable food in San Francisco.
The Earth Markets, a global network of farmers’ markets, is created.
Slow Food Netherlands is created.


The fifth International Slow Food Congress is held in Puebla, Mexico, with 600 international delegates.  The Declaration of Puebla is ratified as a pledge to continue the journey started 18 years earlier.
The first regional Terra Madre events are held in Brazil and Belarus.
Vignerons d’Europe
is held in Montpellier, France, bringing together European winemakers to discuss sustainable winemaking.
The first Markt des guten Geschmacks, Slow Food Germany’s fair of good, clean and fair food, is held in Stuttgart.
The first Algusto fair is held in Bilbao, Spain.


Slow Food USA establishes the Terra Madre Relief Fund to help Louisiana food communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Slow Food UK is created.


The Salão das Comunidades do Alimento event is launched, the first large-scale traditional food event organized by Slow Food in Brazil.


The first edition of Terra Madre – the world meeting of food communities – is held concurrently with the Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy, attracting about 5,000 delegates from 130 countries.
The University of Gastronomic Sciences is inaugurated in Pollenzo, Italy, close to the Slow Food headquarters.
Genoa hosts the first Slow Fish fair dedicated to sustainable and artisanal fishing.
Slow Food Japan
is created.


The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is formed.


The Manifesto in Defense of Raw Milk Cheeses is drawn up, launching the international Slow Cheese campaign.

The Master of Food program, a new educational project for adults, is launched by Slow Food Italy.


The Presidia project is launched.
Slow Food USA is created.


Cheese, Slow Food’s first international fair dedicated to dairy products, is held in Bra for the first time. It goes on to become a biennial event.


Slow Food holds the first Salone del Gusto in Turin, where it presents the Ark of Taste project. The Salone goes on to become a biennial event and one of the most important international fairs dedicated to artisanal, sustainable food and the small-scale producers that safeguard local traditions and high quality products.


Slow Food Switzerland is created.


Slow Food Germany is created.


First Slow Food International Congress is held in Venice.
The first Osterie d’Italia guide is published, marking the founding of Slow Food Editore.


The international Slow Food movement is officially founded in Paris and the Slow Food Manifesto is signed.


Slow Food is created in Italy after a demonstration on the intended site of a McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

  • Did you learn something new from this page?
  • yesno