Tom Philpott over at Grist has an extremely thoughtful essay on Slow Food exploring tough issues like elitism in the sustainable foods movement.
For all its good work -- and despite its roots within the Italian labor movement -- Slow Food has itself been hounded by charges of elitism. The critique goes like this: Who but a rich few can spend time wringing their hands over whether, say, a cheese that's been made in some Tuscan village for hundreds of years goes extinct -- a cheese that only the well-off can afford anyway?
Yet Slow Food's class problem really applies to the sustainable food movement in all industrialized nations, including the U.S. In short, our economy runs on cheap food; many people rely on it to feed themselves; and advocates of farmers' markets, CSAs, and organic food are asking people to pay more for food without giving them a strategy for raising wages.
The movement is caught between two poles, of wanting to provide more affordable food but also trying to maintain a decent living for its farmers. Closing that gap, Philpott argues, is a primary challenge for the movement ahead.