BOX Slow Food movement picks up speed

By Dawn Schuett  

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

It may be hard to believe, but Sopra Sotto, an elegant downtown Rochester shop that sells food, cookware and other items imported from Italy, has something in common with Callister Farm in West Concord, where free-range turkeys and chickens are raised.

Both promote Slow Food, a movement that began in Italy in the 1980s by Carlo Petrini to oppose the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome. Slow Food encourages people to take time to enjoy good-tasting food that is locally grown using methods that don’t harm the environment and by producers who are treated and paid fairly for their work.

At Sopra Sotto, customers will find Italian foods such as olive oil, salts and sauces that are Slow Food-certified and come from small producers who support the principles of Slow Food. The two Italian chefs who teach cooking classes at Sopra Sotto support the Slow Food movement and plan their menus based on what’s locally available and in season. The shop also sells books to educate people about Slow Food.


"The thing about Slow Food is that the taste is so much better" compared to foods containing ingredients that have been bioengineered or may have hormones, said Maureen McNally, co-owner of Sopra Sotto.

By joining the Slow Food movement, people gain a better understanding of where their food comes from while savoring their meals, McNally said.

"I think the more people know, the more they become convinced they need to pay attention to what they’re eating," she said. "With the push to be green in the United States, I think Slow Food is definitely going to pick up steam."

Lori and Alan Callister, owners of Callister Farm, are among the food producers in southeast Minnesota now part of the Slow Food movement. The Callisters have twice attended the Terra Madre conference in Italy for Slow Food producers.

"I promote it as much as possible so people become aware of it," Lori Callister said. She also incorporates the philosophy of Slow Food by preparing meals from scratch for her family with food she’s grown.

It’s not complicated, said Callister, who believes Slow Food is basically about good food prepared in simple ways.

Although some critics claim Slow Food is an "elitist supper club," Callister doesn’t see it that way.

"It’s just a growing group of people who are concerned where their food comes from and want to support the local economy," she said.


An estimated 80,000 people worldwide belong to Slow Food "convivia," local chapters of the Slow Food movement. Gabriele Dellanave of Rochester started a Slow Food convivium here about a year ago. The chapter has 25 members.

As the movement grows and spreads, Dellanave said, more people are making food choices that are better for the local community, the environment and themselves.

"Obviously, if everybody would join the movement, it would be a revolution," Dellanave said.

Dawn Schuett is a Farmington freelance writer.

For more information about the Slow Food convivium in Rochester, contact Gabriele Dellanave at

What To Read Next
Get Local