Foody Direct Interviews Craig McCord

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

farmers-hands
 

Recently I was interviewed by Foody Direct. They were interested in my views on slow food, among other topics. Here’s a taste of that interview. You can read the whole interview here.

What is the Slow Food movement?

The literal answer is that it’s an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. Slow Food preserves and shares local food cultures in 150 countries. At the same time the Slow Food organization maintains a political agenda against globalization of agricultural products. The quick answer is that Slow Food is about standing up, literally and figuratively, to fast food. If you care about the pleasure of good food and have a sense of community, you should become a Slow Food member.

If you care about the pleasure of good food and have a sense of community, you should become a Slow Food member.

How did you become so passionate about it?

Staci and I moved to lower Manhattan in February 2002. We lived two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Needless to say, there was sadness and devastation, understandably so, in everyone’s eyes. The NYC Greenmarket Tribeca Farmers’ Market was right across from our apartment building. I really believe that it was a healing space – a place where neighbors could gather, buy good, real food from local farmers and feel “normal.” Or at least a “new normal,” as no one could ignore the smoldering ruins completely. But there was Alex, the fish guy, showing up every week, and Tom the tomato guy. The Farmers’ Market in those days became an event we wanted to talk about, to document. We began making our food films that year. We continue to this day.

What do see as being the biggest benefits to Slow Food?

Well, to begin with, local food tastes better. The benefits of eating food produced with no pesticides, no herbicides, antibiotics and hormones are fairly obvious. Slow Food is produced with care by, more than likely, a family farm. That means when you buy locally produced food, the benefit is that you have kept money in your community. Also, you have helped local farmers maintain their patch of land, which is so much better than field after field of monocrops. I think it’s accurate to say Slow Food is all about the benefits. I can’t think of a downside.

What cultures do you think offer the best of examples of embracing Slow Food? What can we learn from them?

Said with all respect, peasant cultures – folks that can’t afford to waste food. Think of cast-off cuts of meat, a goat’s head, for example. How to cook it? Throw it in a pot with whatever else is available and cook it in liquid; braise it, low and slow. Italians and their handmade pasta, now that’s Slow Food. Have you ever made a Mexican mole? Takes awhile. How about barbecue? The good stuff is smoked at least overnight. African chicken stew can take seven hours. These few cultural examples have always embraced slow food because they did not have a choice. As a matter of fact, fast food is the weird way to eat. Go slow, it’s delicious.

What can we learn from them? Use everything you can. Cook local food. Support local food communities. Avoid processed foods. Slow down!

What have been some of your most exciting or unique food finds over the years?

By far the most exciting thing to us is the growing awareness of pastured, humanely raised animals for meat. The CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in this country are beyond horrible, and as we developed our food film series, a little butcher shop called Fleisher’s had just opened in upstate New York. It was there that we really came to understand the meaning of grass-fed meat when interviewing Josh Applestone, the butcher. Sustainably, humanely raised meat became more than a flavor or health choice for us – it became a moral one. And now, thankfully, grass–fed meat has become a much more mainstream idea.

Thank you, Susan Jennings and Foody Direct for the opportunity to express my views on slow food.

Photo credit: Craig McCord