How to fight fast food? With slow food, of course

provided by Swarthmore College

f you think food fights are just for little kids, think again. The very adult mem- bers of Slow Food see the pervasiveness of American fast food as the enemy, and themselves as champions of meals as communal and social gatherings.

Leading the local Slow Food forces is Hansjakob Werlen, a Swarthmore College associate professor of German who founded Slow Food's Philadelphia chapter last year.

Werlen is organizing Slow Food's big annual event - a multi-course meal prepared by nationally renowned chefs from Sicily. Swarthmore's meal is taking place at the Friends Meeting House on March 17, and is one of only four the chefs are planning during their trip to the United States. The others are in Washington, D.C., New York, and Santa Barbara, CA.

"Anyone who knows me knows I'm crazy about authentic food," Werlen says. "In my own way, I want to make people in this area aware of all of the organic food that is produced locally - the small cheese makers, the small wineries, the incredible vegetables and fruits."

Founded in 1986, Slow Food is an international food and wine movement with 60,000 members in 35 countries. According to Werlen, the organization supports small food producers and works to counter the "degrading" effects of industrial and fast food culture and the standardization of taste.

In addition to providing a sumptuous feast for Slow Food members, the dinner will also raise funds for a project the organization is sponsoring in Nicaragua. Its goal is to recover agricultural land and improve food production capacity in the rural area around San Francisco Libre.

Located near Philadelphia, Swarthmore is a highly selective liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,400. Swarthmore is ranked the number one liberal arts college in the country by US News & World Report.