Food News

Interview: Liz Goulding, New Leader of Local Slow Food Movement on Why Local Matters

The Slow Food movement was initially founded by Italian Carlo Petrini in the mid-1980s as a way to counteract our "fast" culture, which, among many other things, affected the way we eat. Now Slow Food is a global (yet very local) interest group that advocates for sustainable food. In a giant stroke, Slow Food is about slowing down to eat -- thinking about flavor, place and, most important, the people around you at the dinner table.

Liz Goulding has recently stepped into the leadership role of the Dallas chapter of Slow Food. Along with the members of the group, Goulding is kicking off what she hopes to be the first in a long series of informal gatherings about "Why Local Food Matters."

In the upcoming months, Slow Food will host dinners and various events aimed at supporting sustainable food (and drinks!) in Dallas. Goulding explains, "I have found that a lot of people are interested in 'good, clean, fair food' and are working on those issues through other groups, but have never heard of Slow Food."

If you fall into that category, or even if you're already savvy to Slow Food, catch up with the group at one of their events. Everyone is invited. The first meeting is next Tuesday, April 23, at Craft and Growler from 6 to 8 p.m.. They'll gather around the long communal tables, sip local beer and discus "Why Local Beer Matters."

Kevin Afghani, owner of Craft and Growler, will talk about his relationship with local breweries and Kevin Carr, founder of Community Beer Co., will share his passion for making beer for Dallas.

You'll want to make sure you purchase some beer though (obviously) because a portion of the money will go to support Slow Food's Urban Orchard initiative, which hopes to raise money to plant fruit trees in neighborhoods and community gardens.

Following is a chat with Goulding about her goals, dreams and aspirations as the new leader of the Slow Food movement.

What made you want to take on the role as leader of the local Slow Food movement? I took on the role as Leader of Slow Food because I think food should be personal. It's about the connection between me and the things on my plate, the farmer that grew them, or the craftsmen that made the cheese or brewed the beer. The connection between me and the people across the table from me.

I spent time working for a nonprofit that educates ranchers on holistic land management and later when I moved to Dallas I worked at Urban Acres for a year. Through these experiences I have seen that those connections are real and do matter. The food choices we make have profound effects on our health and the land, and the more closely we are connected to our food the more likely we are to make good decisions for the farmer, the earth and ourselves.

What are the specific goals of Slow Food in Dallas? We want to support local farmers and food artisans by enjoying their food, but also through the added layers of education and activism. So that means having happy hours where we learn about a particular food issue, whether that be beer or non-GMOs. We are going to be volunteering on local farms and raising money to plant fruit trees in neighborhoods and community gardens. We also will be having a series of small cooking classes, because again, the heart of Slow Food is sharing a meal at the table.

Why should I care about the Dallas chapter of Slow Food? I think the joke about Dallas is that if it was a thing everywhere else 10 years ago, we just discovered it. Or maybe that is just my joke? But I choose to see that as an opportunity to be involved in real change. We live in a world where we suffer from obesity and malnutrition at the same time. There is something deeply disturbing about that.

There are some great organizations, like Fresh Food Alliance, Chefs for Farmers, Texas Honeybee Guild, etc. that are having panels and events and really pushing Dallas forward when it comes to local food. But the need in Dallas is so great I think there is room for us to make a difference too and have some fun while we are at it. Sometimes Slow Food is seen as "just" an organization for foodies, but I see it as much more. We should enjoy our food, but to truly do that you have to get to know it on a level deeper than its flavor profile.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.