Back to the Villages: the world’s first Slow Food Villages launched In Carinthia

The concept of Slow Food Villages, developed in Carinthia, Austria, is regarded internationally as a pioneering model within the Slow Food network.

This innovative project offers forward-thinking perspectives on rural life and positions the village as a place of good living, where our cultural and culinary heritages are recognized as opportunities. Group of villagers are working together to ensure a responsible diet through respect for traditional food culture, making community welfare visible and tangible on different levels.

The Slow Food Villages provide new impulses for the revitalization of rural areas, thus stemming the tide of migration from the countryside to urban areas. Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, says: “The protection of villages in rural areas is an important component in the defense and preservation of gastronomic heritage. Villages should once again become the seeds of good social life.”

The Slow Food project also offers Carinthian farmers new opportunities. Martin Gruber, Provincial Councillor for Agriculture and Rural Development, commented: “With Slow Food, Kärnten Werbung, the Gut.Sauber.Fair association and tourism, the local agricultural sector now has strong and reliable partners to promote our regional products both at home and internationally. To raise awareness of our local producers the Carinthian state government has launched a regional charter to give domestic products priority over anonymous cheap products from abroad.”

Sebastian Schuschnig, Provincial Councillor for Economy and Tourism, confirms that regional and authentic cuisine is becoming increasingly popular with guests. “We reacted to this trend at an early stage and today we have a real tourism flagship for our guests. Sustainability is becoming a real living practice where not just our guests, but food producers and local people profit from the experience of Carinthian cuisine”.

The concept of the Slow Food Villages was developed by Slow Food Carinthia in cooperation with the international Slow Food movement and is intended to become a model for other countries. “We hope that the Slow Food Villages, based on the Carinthian experience, will lead to the birth of other similar projects in the rest of the world,” comments Paolo di Croce, General Secretary of Slow Food. Carinthia Advertising Director Christian Kresse adds: “Carinthia has already developed an important pilot project for Slow Food International: Slow Food Travel. The Slow Food Villages were developed according to the same basic principle, based on a single location, and are intended to serve as inspiration for everybody”.

Seven villages from Carinthia—Arriach, Berg im Drautal, Millstatt, Irschen, Nötsch im Gailtal, Obervellach and St. Daniel im Gailtal—have so far taken part in the transformation process to become Slow Food Villages. Participating municipalities or villages should have less 5000 inhabitants, a strong community that lives according to the Slow Food philosophy, producing good, clean and fair food, while local chefs should offer seasonal, regional food. Gottfried Bachler, chairman of Slow Food Carinthia, explains: “The Slow Food Villages are a clear commitment to the outside world to jointly assume responsibility for the promotion small-scale economic structures,” while Eckart Mandler, project developer and coordinator, concludes: “Regional producers and local suppliers contribute to making the Slow Food Villages desirable place to live and visit”.

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