16 January 2007, 16:22 PM
  • Slow Food, the Italian-born movement dedicated to eco-gastronomy and the battle against the relentless march of the international food giants, has finally set up shop in Britain.

The organisation has chosen the Shropshire market town of Ludlow, a place that has successfully reinvented itself from the haunt of weekend antique collectors to a foodie Mecca bedecked with Michelin-starred restaurants.

Slow Food was founded by Italian journalist, Carlo Petrini, 20 years after he noticed a McDonald’s restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome. It now has 83,000 members around the world and a manifesto dedicated to the pleasures of eating ‘real’ rather than mass-produced food.

The UK branch is the seventh national association after Italy, Germany, the US, Switzerland, France and Japan, and boasts 2,000 members in 41 groups. Its chairwoman, Sue Miller, said Britain was now a nation divided by its attitude to food. “Our food culture is one of extremes - food tends to be either fast, low-grade fuel, or an elitist lifestyle pursuit for the affluent,” she said. “Slow Food UK aspires to encourage and support a food culture where quality, delicious food, produced by environmentally sympathetic and economically sustainable methods, is the norm and accessible to all.”

The Slow Food movement in Britain, which administers the UK’s five Presidia - traditional products threatened by industrial standardisation, hygiene laws and environmental damage - for its international Ark of Taste scheme, was previously run from the international headquarters in Bra, Italy. Ludlow was the first British town to be awarded Cittaslow or “slow city” status. The Norfolk towns of Aylsham and Diss have also been awarded the title in honour of their determination to hold on to their traditional ways of living, shopping and farming.