Mumbo Gumbo: Slow Food

Slow food producers.

Slow food producers.

When it comes to learning about food and how it’s produced, there’s no better classroom than Italy.

That classroom will soon welcome “Slow Food” producers from 150 countries who will gather October 21-25 for a conference in Turin, Italy, and Western North Carolina will certainly be well represented. Eight WNC food producers were accepted to the Terra Madre event, where they will learn ways to better their small businesses and their communities through sustainable, organic farming methods.

“Slow Food International has this conference every two years,” says Vanessa Harbin of Sunswept Farm in Madison County, one of the delegates. “Slow Food began gathering everybody from around the world in one place so they can share knowledge, and seven of the eight that are going from our region are from the Spring Creek food community.”

Slow Food can actually trace its origins to Italy as a reaction to the world’s growing reliance on fast food. “Slow Food to us is about a connection to the land and the community and making food be an important part of life instead of a quick part of life,” Harbin says.

Delegates will attend dozens of workshops covering practically every type of food production. Joining Harbin will be her fellow Sunswept Farm representative, Lalasa Mohr, as well as Julie Mansfield of Mountain Harvest Organics; Dave Bauer of Farm and Sparrow Bakery; David Kendall of Elk Knob Farm and Gardens; Lady Spirit Moon Cerelli of BEe Healing Apiary; and Chuck and Jeannie Blethen of Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard.

Harbin says she and her fellow travelers feel extremely fortunate to be selected for this conference.

“I’m very delighted to be going and really honored that I was chosen because I think they chose half as many people this year because of the economy,” Harbin says. “It was really stiff competition this year, so getting accepted was a real honor.”

To learn more about local Slow Food efforts, visit

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