Slow and Steady…

By on December 20, 2016

How one woman brought food to a new pace in the Tetons.

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JACKSON HOLE, WY -Slow Food International is an organization started by Carlo Petrini in Rome, Italy, in 1986. When McDonald’s tried to erect its golden arches just a block from the Spanish Steps, Petrini rallied his fellow Italians to fight fast food with “slow food.”

His initial objective was to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. Now with more than one million members in 160 countries, SFI has launched dozens of grassroots initiatives, such as Slow Fish, Slow Meat, Ark of Taste, 10,000 Gardens in Africa, and the Slow Food Youth Network.

When local writer and food enthusiast Sue Muncaster first came across the Slow Food website back in 2008, she was doing research for a cookbook she was writing about family recipes. “I read about Carlo Petrini,” Muncaster said, “and it made my heart beat. I read their mission statement and I thought: this is exactly what I think. I looked into starting a chapter.”

Muncaster gathered four friends who were also passionate about local food.

“It started out super small,” she said. “We started having dinners. One Thanksgiving we did a local food dinner where everyone brings a dish made from locally sourced food. That sounds so normal now, but back then it was unique.”

When Muncaster traveled to Italy for the SFI summit at Terra Madre in 2008, she got the idea for Slow Food in the Tetons’ first big event: Locavore’s Night Out, a local food fair held in Teton Valley.

“There were representatives from all the local food producers; there was local wine and beer,” she said. “It was the first local food event that was public. Over 400 people showed up.”

As support for Slow Food in the Tetons grew, the chapter moved over the hill to be based in Jackson. At this point, Muncaster left her active role on the board to launch Teton Family Magazine. The new generation of SFIT board members continued to organize events designed to bring people closer to the source of their food—food education, the Teton Food Tour, the People’s Market, the Lockhart Ranch Party, the Youth Culinary Project, and many more. Slow Food partnered with Vertical Harvest to help it get off the ground.

Muncaster is pleased with how her super small, four-person, grassroots organization has grown. She loves seeing the progress the community has made to embrace the mission of Slow Food to promote good, clean and fair food.

“Preserving diversity is a big thing,” she said. “The country was losing our grains, our cheese. Now look at all the microbreweries we have. We even have tons of local distilleries. And 10 years ago there were only two or three kinds of apples in the grocery store. Now all these apples are coming back because there is demand.”

When asked about tips for eating locally in the winter, Muncaster advised: “Don’t beat yourself up. Every little baby step you make is great. And if it’s not local and organic, it’s OK. Even if you can’t get all the ingredients locally, if you are at home cooking from scratch, you are your own source of local food. We all have the potential to cook and make things from scratch.”

These days you can find Muncaster and her husband Christian Santelices living in East Jackson with their two children, and running the Treetop Adventure Park at Snow King Mountain Resort. PJH


About Annie Fenn, MD

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at www.jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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