Slow Food Nation

Raise your forked-filled fist in the air and wave it around like you actually care. The Slow Food Nation converges on San Francisco August 29 through Sept. 1, 2008 for an inaugural gathering at the altars of Pollan, Petrini and Waters — a sort of latter day organic movement headed up by this farm-to-table triumvirate. Think Terra Madre Bay Area.

It’s not an unfamiliar refrain to those of us living in Slow Food Country — in fact, I sometimes get a little tired of the fresh-local-organic drumbeat that every chef in the Bay Area seems to have adopted (though the alternative of stale-foreign-processed doesn’t sound that appetizing). Keep in mind that Slow Food isn’t just about lettuce and apples. The movement encompasses cheeses, meats, fish and wine.

With Mother Slow, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, just around the corner (and sourcing much of her famous restaurant’s food from Sonoma/Marin/Napa) we’ve had some time to hear the call. Most of us already get that our delicate food system depends on local farming, sustainable practices and supporting conscientious artisan producers.

But even so, many are still waking up to the idea that eating tomatoes flown half-way around the world in January might not be such a good idea.

The Labor Day weekend event featuring the gastronomic rock-star lineup of author Michael Pollan, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, activist Vandana Shiva and food writer Corby Kummer is all about education. The program goes introspective with a series of “Food for Thought” discussions. If you think better with your stomach, however, a trip to the bountiful Taste Pavilions might be more your speed. Designed at Fort Mason by local architects, each of the 15 pavilions will offer a flight of foods from producers around the country — from beer to chocolate.

Also in the lineup are hands-on workshops, hikes, Bay Area journeys, an outdoor music festival (featuring Gnarls Barkley and Ozomatli) and the special Slow Dinners around the region. A little something for every palate.

Locals on tap (which seem suspiciously hard to find, but email me if you’re among them) include Joel Baecker of Pizza Politana, Saint Benoit Yogurt, June Taylor preserves, Marshall’s Farm Honey, Laloo Goat Milk Ice Cream, Straus, McEvoy Ranch, Ecco Caffe Coffee Roasters, Sonoma Direct, Medlock Ames and others.

Slow Food Nation ’08, Aug 20-Sept 1,