Analysis & Opinion

Taking time to smell (and harvest) the roses

August 26, 2009 Mullen

250px-SlowFoodThera06676As technology and globalization continue to expand, our appetite for instant gratification grows with them. Given the fast paced, multitasking, 24/7 society we live in, it’s surprising that one of the biggest growing trends right now is about slowing down. Starting as one man’s protest of a McDonald’s opening in Rome, and fueled by books and movies such as Fast Food Nation, The Omnivores Dilemma and Food, Inc., the Slow Food Movement has grown to over 100,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide.

Combining Missions:  If an environmentalist, an ecologist and a foodie got together.

Slow Food is about being “everything fast food isn’t.”  It’s about rediscovering and celebrating locally sourced foods and cooking traditions that have been lost for the sake of mass production. On their main websites (slowfood.com and slowfoodusa.org) gastronomic seekers can find everything from sources for heirloom seeds to directions on how to make traditional Valasis Rye Bread.

Quality, not quantity

Those leading the slow foods movement believe that in a world of processed foods, quality ingredients have been lost.  They believe that by focusing on quality ingredients and taking time to enjoy food (they are pushing for the return of the two hour lunch), meals are not only more flavorful, but healthier. They look to bring this healthy attitude to the world by working to support more community gardens and finding ways to bring healthier, planet friendly foods to the National School Lunch Program.

DIY Consumer: Nothing is more local than your backyard

Local sourcing can mean discovering a local winery, but there is also a growing trend towards growing your own.  Perhaps inspired by Michelle Obama’s victory garden, raised garden beds are cropping up everywhere from suburban backyards to urban fire escapes. This goes beyond fruits and veggies – as  consumers have even started raising their own chickens. The trend has become so popular that companies like Eglu (omlet.us) provide designer coops – so you can have the chicest chicks on the block.

Where does it go from here?

The idea of taking time to enjoy things is not limited to food.  Since the slow food movement launched in 1986, it has sparked similar movements in other industries such as Slow Travel, Slow Reading and Slow Cities (which seeks to preserve local customs). As the pace of society continues to grow, we can expect to see more of these types of movements as consumers look for balance in their hectic lives.

What are the implications for brands?

  • Look for opportunities to increase impact by serving multiple consumer interests (green + foodie, quality + local, etc.)
  • Stand up and take credit for what you might already be doing – particularly any local sourcing
  • Don’t be afraid to promote quality in a downturned economy. Small enriching experiences go a long way.
  • Think of how your brand can provide balance in consumer’s lives.  If you are not leading the trend, can you be leading the counter trend?