Slow Food Australia operates through a series of convivia, each mandated directly from the Italian headquarters in Bra, Italy. The first Australian convivium was set up in the Barossa Valley, South Australia by Maggie Beer in 1995. As of 2012, Slow Food in Australia had 31 convivia, or branches, with all activities coordinated by volunteers.
The Slow Food movement had its origins in Italy. In 1986, protests developed over the intention to open a McDonalds at the Spanish Steps in Rome. The movement’s founder, Carlo Petrini, succeeded in galvanising a group of like-minded people and the Slow Food International movement officially began at a meeting in Paris in 1989. Here, on 10 December, delegates from 15 countries signed the Slow Food Manifesto.
The aims of the movement are to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.
The number of Australian convivia seems to have shrunk over the years. According to the Australian website, as of mid-2020, there were just 19 convivia. Many of these were in urban areas, including all of Australia’s capital cities. Wine regions such as the Hunter, Mildura and the NSW Southern Highlands also had their own convivia. By 2023, their number was even fewer with just 15 convivia and communities listed on the Slow Food website.
Slow Food Australia says that its mission is for food to be:
Good (Our food should be tasty, seasonal, fresh, wholesome – and linked to our local culture and seasons)
Clean (Our food should nourish a healthy lifestyle and be produced in ways that preserves biodiversity, without causing harm to our environment, animals or people)
Fair (Our food should be affordable, while respecting fair conditions and pay for our producers)
Food for all (Good, clean and fair food should be accessible to all and celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions and nations that reside in Australia)