Friday, July 1, 2016

Greetings Slow Food members and supporters,

It is with the mixed emotions of joy and sadness that I write this message. 

As some of you may have heard, Slow Food Katy Trail, the mid-Missouri chapter of Slow Food USA, is in transition and soon no longer will exist with any of its current all-volunteer staff. I think I can safely speak for our former and current board members when I say that we all have cherished and loved the work we’ve done in the community for the last 13 years. Through our many films, dinners, tastings, parties, potlucks, auctions, special events, farm tours and Harvest-of-the-Month elementary-school programs and farm field trips, we have educated thousands of children and adults about the Slow Food mission of good, clean and fair food for all. 

It’s been difficult to conclude that—while we’d love to continue the vital work of the Slow Food organization—none of us can sustain the chapter roles that have demanded so much of our time and energy for so long. There’s something about getting to the point in life where you have more years behind you than you do in front that makes you think about how to spend what’s left—speaking for myself, and perhaps all but one of our (younger) board members!

We hope to be able to introduce you to a new leader who will step in, take over the chapter and lead it in a fresh, new direction with new board members. We’ve been talking with a potential candidate, so we are optimistic that some of you will be able to meet her at our members’ farewell party on July 31 (details announced soon).

No matter what happens, I’m extremely proud of what Slow Food has accomplished and the trailblazing the organization has done to help change the food landscape in not only mid-Missouri, but throughout the country and the world. It’s been so rewarding to see the growing number of farmers’ markets, restaurants, food shops, young entrepreneurs and new organizations that support local farmers and organically grown food. I’m also encouraged by the increasing number of people who care about biodiversity via their involvement in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste—by identifying/growing heirloom varieties of plants and reviving heritage breeds of animals.

I’d like to thank all of our Slow Food Katy Trail members, volunteers and enthusiasts for your faithful and generous support and hard work throughout the years. The most wonderful benefit of having been a chapter leader since 2003 is the number of passionate farmers, fishers, restaurateurs, food artisans, activists, environmentalists and new friends I’ve come to know and love in the world of Slow Food.

Everywhere I go in this community I run into people I’ve bought food from, met or worked with on events or projects or heard speak. Every Saturday at the farmers market, I rejoice anew as I talk with long-time vendors; purchase their fresh, beautiful food; and meet my fellow faithful market friends doing the same. Every time I’ve gone to Slow Food gatherings or conferences throughout this country and the world, my food philosophy and commitments have been recharged. The brilliant speakers I’ve heard, the beyond-delicious local foods I’ve eaten and the intelligent, energetic U.S. and international Slow Food staff, chapter leaders and members I’ve met at all these remind me of what passion can accomplish in this world. Carlo Petrini has been and always will be my hero.

I plan to continue the work of the organization in my own life, through the everyday choices I make about the food I buy, cook, grow and share. Being intimately involved with Slow Food has made me realize that there is no better way to care for the planet, its people and the generations who come after us than to be fully conscious of each and every decision we make about our food choices.

I encourage you all to renew your memberships and stay involved with Slow Food USA, regardless of the status of our local chapter. I hope many of you will come to Slow Food Nation next year in Denver and to other Slow Food gatherings whenever you can and wherever you are. There is much to be learned and enjoyed at all of them—Terra Madre, Slow Meat, Slow Fish, Slow Cheese, Slow Beer, Slow Wine …

I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Slow Food USA:

We drink the Kool-Aid, but we make it ourselves, from scratch.

We still believe that
‘Taste is pleasure that reasons’
and taste drives preference
and preference drives behavior
and behavior drives change.
The fork is all powerful.

Our food culture is like a great artwork that has been wallpapered over again and again by convenience. We are about discovery. Not just to save what has been known and make it vibrant, but to add our voice to the conversation of the ages. We make life choices based on the heart, the back, and the brain. We are living examples, role models, keepers of the flame for a better life for all.

Slow regards and buon appetito!

Bernadette Dryden Leader, Slow Food Katy Trail

Retiring board: Bernadette Dryden, Sarah Cyr, Sallee Purcell, Laura Carter, Ilene Rauzi and Miriam Hasenclever. Board members emeritae: Ava Fajen, Martha Folk, Lisa Guillory.