Second Slow Food USA National Leader Congress

From May 30 to June 1 2003, delegates from 80 of Slow Food USA’s 110local Convivia met in Shelburne, Vermont at Shelburne Farms for the second National Leader Congress. The Congress was a watershed moment in the history of Slow Food USA, which now has 10,000 members nationally. The event marked the ratification of important documents by the delegates intended to provide a stable structure to the organization as it grows – at the current rate, Slow Food USA is doubling in size every 2 1/2 years. Chief among these documents is a National Statute, which provides a framework for Slow Food to grow in a healthy manageable way, while empowering Convivia to provide maximum impact in their communities. The Statute extends the task of leadership to a large group of people located throughout the nation and world. The foundation of Slow Food remains the individual member who is led on a local level by the Convivium leader. Convivia in a region elect a Governor who serves as the authoritative representative of Slow Food U.S.A. and ensures the development and the correct functioning of the Convivia in the region. Governors in turn elect from their group (currently 16) a majority of the Board of Directors. The Statute also recognizes Committee Heads, the Executive Director, and numerous international bodies, which reflect the fact that Slow Food is a worldwide organization. Alice Waters was named a Vice-President of Slow Food International at the Congress. Numerous presentations were made by Convivium leaders on subjects ranging from the Ark of Taste, school gardens and education in schools, and fundraising locally. Attendees were treated to inspiring speeches from key figures in the food world, including Alice Waters, Dr. Marion Nestle, Eliot Coleman, Corby Kummer, and Gary Nabhan. A surprise visit was made by presidential candidate (and former Governor of Vermont) Dr Howard Dean, who was asked tough questions on his views on sustainability and supporting local food culture. The Congress ended with the sitting of a new Board of Directors. The Chair of the Board is Michael Dimock, President of AgInnovations, a company dedicated to helping regional food systems create identities for themselves. Other Board members include Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters, Deborah Madison and a group of regional Governors. Leaders were treated to marvelous locally sourced foods served with a nod to simplicity. Shelburne Farms provided a spectacular backdrop for Saturday’s events and, on Sunday, meetings were held at the Intervale, a non-profit dedicated to supporting local farms and researching issues regarding sustainable food production. Sponsors for the event included D’Artagnan, Niman Ranch, Quady Winery, Heitz Wine Cellars, Robert Mondavi Winery, Farnum Hill Cider, Tabasco, Bushmills, Petaluma Poultry, Three Tomatoes, Atlantic Cape Fisheries, In Pursuit of Tea, King Arthur Flour, Otter Creek Brewing, Voss Water, numerous cheesemakers and other local producers.

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