Our blogging e-pal Tana at I (Heart) Small Farms has the latest development in the face-off between Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini and the San Francisco Ferry Plaza farmers he dissed in his description of the market, its clientele, and their prices. Tana posts a conciliatory letter she received from Erica Lesser, head of Slow Food USA, along with a copy of the one that Petrini apparently sent to CUESA, which runs the farmers market in question. (Wish I’d gone over there today to hear the scuttlebutt, but I was gripped by an obsessive need to rearrange all the furniture in the house, and besides, I don’t look like an actress.)
The short version: Petrini apologizes to CUESA for any offense caused by the passage. He blames the translation for failing to convey the admiration he felt for the farmers in question, and also complains that reading the section out of the book’s context doesn’t help, either. This could indeed be true, but the damage is done. Farmer Steve Sando sums it up best in a comment over at his blog: “There’s a large portion of the population that is dipping their toes into these waters and to have someone like Petrini come along and confirm their suspicions that they may be getting ripped off, while also making fun of them, is beyond irresponsible.”
The passage gives rise to stories like this editorial in the Los Angeles Times today, which says that farmer “quoted in Petrini’s book admitted to inflating his prices so that he could support his family and still have time for surfing.” There you go: he “admitted” to “inflating” his prices. I’d put quoted in quotes too, but I think we have established that Petrini was employing some poetic license when writing about his conversations.
Petrini’s clumsiness didn’t do much to improve the state of the food system in this country, but it sure did inspire the best discussion we’ve ever had on this blog. (Boy, it’s really humbling when your readers demonstrate over and over how much more articulate and thoughtful they are than you.) I’m actually tiring of the contretemps, and now that it does at least seem that Slow Food acknowledges their gaffe — albeit with perhaps a little less culpa than Mea — ready to move on. The weather here today was breezy and sun-kissed. Peaches and squash and cherries have returned to the Berkeley farmers market, along with fresh basil. I’m excited to report that my first attempt at fermenting something — cabbage into kim chi — turned out delicious, so crunchy and eye-wateringly spicy.
Here’s to slow food … to good, clean, and fair food … to sustainable, organic, local, and ethical (SOLE) food … and especially to all the amazing and passionate people who grow, cook, and eat it.