Food consumption and production have long been understood to be a key threat to the environment and climate. But the depth and impact of the unsustainable practices that are often involved are widely underreported and underestimated. For example, the modern food chain is a major producer of carbon emissions. The carbon footprint of food waste alone is estimated to be equivalent to 3.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, making unconsumed food the third greatest CO2 emitter after the U.S. and China. Major changes in the current food system must take place, and this is no easy feat.
That's where Slow Food International steps in. Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization making major strides to drive food practices toward sustainability worldwide. Founded in 1989 to combat the loss of local food cultures and traditions, Slow Food is an umbrella network composed of millions of people in more than 150 countries. It works in sustainable production, distribution, and consumption of quality food. As an umbrella organization, Slow Food guides the direction and actions of a movement that comprises over 1,500 local chapters and 2,000 food communities. It has three major goals in mind:
- Conserving biodiversity and preserving the environment
- Adopting sustainable production methods to fight climate change and global inequality
- Promoting new consumption models to safeguard natural resources for the future of our planet
As a whole, the entire Slow Food network reaches millions worldwide each year, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean, and fair food.
Slow Food first went through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in 2015. Since then, its certificate has been renewed by U.S.-based grantmakers three times. Federico Mattei, who works as a grant writer and project developer for Slow Food, notes that "the equivalency determination allows Slow Food International to secure funding from U.S- based donors and foundations, allowing us to implement crucial, high-impact activities in over 150 countries globally."
NGOsource's ED process benefits both grantees, like Slow Food, and grantmakers by significantly reducing the burden for the NGOs. With NGOsource's standardized questionnaire, NGOs are no longer tasked with providing duplicative or incongruent data from one grantmaker to the next. In the case of Slow Food, "Being able to work with an NGO which helps other NGOs navigate the sometimes complicated bureaucratic system present in many countries frees up resources for what we do best, which is to implement grassroots initiatives in the communities where help is most needed." Learn more about the benefits of NGOsource.
ED in Action
It seems fitting that an organization focused on the growth of sustainable food systems would evolve organically over the course of its 30-year history. What began as a group of friends "supporting gastronomic excellence" naturally evolved into a network of over 100,000 individuals that has tackled multiple topics linked to sustainable food systems in a very short span of time. Federico sees a likely cause of this natural growth in the fact that decisions, strategy, and mission are determined through a grassroots approach that incorporates input from all members worldwide. This complex structure, while not always the easiest to manage, is integral to Slow Food's identity.
With so many initiatives geared toward changing the way we approach food systems on a global scale, Slow Food is certainly putting its ED and funding to good use — likely in your neighborhood. Nearly any day, 365 days of the year, a Slow Food event is taking place somewhere on the planet as part of Slow Food's efforts to ensure that all people have access to good, clean, and fair food.
Top photo by Paola Viesi. Used with permission from Slow Food.