Snail’s Pace: Slow Food Noosa
Next time you are travelling through the lush Noosa hinterland, keep an eye out for giant snails attached to farmgates and fences. Similarly, as you make your way around popular eating destinations in Noosa and beyond, be aware of snails popping up in unusual places. It’s all part of a global movement to help consumers make better food choices as Deb Caruso discovers.
The humble Snail is the icon for the global Slow Food movement with more than one million supporters across 160+ countries. It was chosen because it moves slowly, calmly eating its way through life; and it also happens to be a culinary specialty in the area around the northern Italian town of Bra, where the Slow Food movement was born. Originating in the 1980s after a demonstration on the intended site of a proposed fast food restaurant at the Spanish Steps in Rome; the movement grew with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. It has since evolved to embrace a comprehensive approach to food that recognises the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture.
Slow Food Noosa first began in Pomona in 2003 with five members, in 2007 Matt Golinski was the President and initiated the Slow Food Noosa School Garden Project. The convivium is the largest in Australia and is run by a committee of dedicated volunteers who give their time freely to make a positive difference in their community. In 2017, the group launched Australia’s first ‘Snail of Approval’ program to recognise local leaders of the global Slow Food philosophy of ‘good, clean and fair’ food.
Now in its fourth year, it continues to attract a diverse range of producers and food artisans; restaurant owners and chefs keen to be part of a global network actively working together and towards educating and engaging consumers on the benefits of choosing fresh, local and seasonal food with a focus on fairness.
From producers and food artisans to restaurant owners and chefs, the program places the region firmly on the global foodie map and provides a quality assurance guide for residents and visitors. It also encourages stronger networks and relationships with producers and outlets including cafes, restaurants and retailers.
The program currently has around 80 recognised Snails from Caloundra to Gympie involved in food production, creation and directly selling to consumers.
Slow Food Noosa President Carolyn Winkler said she was proud that the local group of volunteers launched the Australian-first initiative, which was based on similar programs operated by other Slow Food groups in Italy, Bali and the United States of America.
“Over the past three years it has been great to see the program retain most of the initial members and attracting many more who are committed to the quest to produce the most responsible, sustainable and delicious food possible,” she said. “We love welcoming new additions to the recipients list and also seeing the connections being made between consumers who want to make responsible food choices; as well as the growth of producers and chefs working together more closely.”
Now in its 30th year, Slow Food International General Secretary Paolo di Croce (from Italy) said together, everyone’s contribution makes it possible to imagine a different world.
“We are committed to transforming the food system to guarantee Good, Clean and Fair food for ALL. In the future we envision, we are closely linked with the resilient ecosystems around us, everyone respects and promotes diversity of people, cultures, places, foods, and tastes,” he said.
Tourism Noosa CEO Melanie Anderson said the interest in slow travel and people seeking authentic food experiences was growing.
“A program such as this really helps put the region on the map for responsible and authentic food experiences,” she said.
Member for Noosa, Sandy Bolton MP, has followed the success of Slow Food Noosa over the years and is thrilled with the impact that organisations and initiatives such as these have on assisting residents in good food choices.
“The Snail of Approval is a great way to know who our champions are of local food and it’s wonderful to reward those who are taking the time and effort to use or grow good, clean and fair food,” she said.
The program is open to farmers, producers, food artisans, chefs, restaurants and food providers from the Sunshine Coast to the Cooloola Coast.
So next time you are cruising the coast (slowly), keep an eye out for the bright red snails and discover what makes that business a leader in a global movement.