MARQUETTE - The English word "convive" - deriving from the Latin word "convivium" - means to feast together. It is a "convivium" that a group of residents in Marquette are currently creating.
"We're forming a local chapter of Slow Food USA," said organizer Joe Sabol. "Slow Food seeks dramatic and lasting change in the food system."
The international non-profit organization Slow Food was founded in 1989 when members of a small Italian city successfully fought a fast food chain's effort to take root in their community, Sabol said. Since then Slow Food has formed hundreds of convivia, or chapters, promoting "a global, grassroots movement ... that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment."
Rachael Grossman of Negaunee prepares homemade pasta last year. Grossman and her mother are members of the local chapter of Slow Food. (Photo courtesy Helen Grossman)
Gina Eggers, 51, of Gwinn, has been into nutrition and whole foods since she was in her early 20s and her then 45-year-old mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Eggers is co-founder of the Slow Food chapter in Marquette.
"By changing her diet and her lifestyle to include only whole grains, raw foods, fresh squeezed juices, no sugar or white flour or artificial ingredients, etc., she was able to live an additional nine years," Eggers said. "I learned how connected one's diet is to health from that experience."
Another reason why Eggers became interested in Slow Food was "the toll that chemicals and commercial food production is taking on our environment," she said. "I have become increasingly conscious of the impact, or footprint that we are making by transporting food long distances, feeding livestock hormones and antibiotics, and the decline of local farms that produce fresh food and are more environmentally friendly."
Sabol said about 40 people have expressed interest in a Slow Food chapter in Marquette. The next meeting is at 2 p.m. Sunday at Peter White Public Library.
The group hopes to take on an educational role to inform the community that cheap food isn't necessarily healthy food. It also aims to promote the art of cooking and the beauty in sharing a meal with others, Sabol said.
"Many of us have lost the art of preparing our own food," Eggers added. "Our food is cheap. Too cheap. We are spending less than any nation on Earth for food, yet the quality of that food has declined. The cost in dollars is cheap, but the cost to our health and our environment is huge.
"Our mission is to slow down enough to learn where our food comes from, to preserve the taste of real food, not processed food, and to celebrate its origins and traditions."
For more information, call Sabol at 228-4010.