Slow Food USA’s New Leader

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Slow Food USA has just announced Richard McCarthy will be the new executive director.

Richard McCarthy co-founded the Crescent City Farmers’ Market in New Orleans in 1995, and was also the director of MarketUmbrella.org.

Since its founding in 2001 as an offshoot of Slow Food International, the USA chapter has not had the smoothest run, particularly in regards to what the organization’s focus should be: preserving food traditions or helping to create a sustainable food system that works for everyone.

Julia Moskin, reporting for The New York Times, writes:

The question of whether Slow Food should exist in order to celebrate the pleasures of the table, or to advocate for food justice and biodiversity, has dogged the group since it began here in 2001. Mr. McCarthy believes that because food has a special place in American culture, Slow Food can and should do both. “Food is the sweet spot between tradition and innovation, rich and poor, old and young, denim and white linen,” he said in an interview (the last refers to farms and restaurants).

Although smaller regional chapters have thrived over the years, most notably in New Orleans, the organization as a whole has suffered due to the seemingly divergent paths it could take.

McCarthy says:

My biggest priority is to assure its members that the house is standing on solid values, and to assure partners and supporters that you can count on us to be there for them to grow a good, clean and fair food system that serves everybody. I look forward to providing support to Slow Food members and to chapters so that they can become more effective. I hope we can cultivate leaders who listen, who build bridges and who possess the skills to creatively address the conditions that prevent our food system from providing decent livelihoods for farmers, food access for all consumers and the cultural assets that define a sense of place for communities.

Will McCarthy’s new leadership will bring Slow Food USA back to a prominent place in the on-going real food movement? Will he be able to successfully bridge the perceived divide between food’s past and its future? We certainly hope so.

Richard McCarthy begins in his new role on January 22. We wish him luck.

Click here to read the article in full.

What direction do you hope Slow Food USA will take under this new leadership? 

Photo Credit: Richard McCarthy