Denver has been taken over.
Foodies have coalesced on the city, filling its streets, parks and public spaces with marketplaces for the Slow Food Nations festival, which pushes for organic, local and healthy meals. Roughly 20,000 people were expected to attend the event throughout the weekend.
“There was once a time where our parents and grandparents would sit around and eat a meal together,” Slow Food USA Executive Director Richard McCarthy said. “And oddly enough, that’s become the most radical thing you could do.”
The Slow Food movement believes the rise of a fast food culture that values fast, cheap and easy has led to a loss of culture and has been harmful to the environment and farmers. To counteract this, the movement believes people should eat local and organic food that’s in season, pay more to support community farmers and – as the name suggests – slow down.
People are already hungry for this, McCarthy said. They’re searching for a sense of community and are trying to rekindle the connection between not only supply and demand but rural and urban.
And that’s happening in Denver, where “the Plains collides with mountains,” he said.
“There’s some wonderful tension there,” he said. “And we see that tension yielding so much creativity here around food, especially around the young generation that has no career path, whose opportunities are so bleak.”
“That has created a strange, wonderful, magical tension,” he continued. “Craft beers, distillers, the whole pop-up economy is alive here. And it’s here, the sort of flyover communities that often get forgotten, where real community is being rekindled through food.”
That’s why Denver was chosen to host Slow Food Nations this year and for years to come. The first and only other Slow Food Nations in the States was in San Francisco in 2008. This year’s event was based off Slow Food International’s biennial Terra Madre in Italy.
Boulder County Farmers Markets Executive Director Brian Coppom said it’s no surprise Denver was chosen, reiterating that the metro area’s breweries, distilleries and focus on natural ingredients show that there is a strong food movement happening here.
“With the visibility of Slow Food, it really raises the level of conversation we’re going to have in Denver and on the Front Range,” Coppom said.