We want to take this opportunity to attempt to answer a question which is often asked of us; what is the value of a Slow Food membership and why should you become a member or renew your lapsed membership? The benefits of becoming a member can be divided into two categories; the 'local' specific benefit which you as a member would receive, either directly or indirectly as a result of the work Slow Food Calgary does within our local context, and the 'global' benefit which is valuable in terms of supporting Slow Food Headquarters (based in Bra, Italy) and all of the educational initiatives, international food advocacy work and development projects which Slow Food International undertakes.
Locally, your membership gives you a significant (30-40%) discount at any of the events organized by Slow Food Calgary. Some events are also free to members only. Additionally, we are currently working on a discount program for our members at local restaurants and food retailers who support the work and goals of Slow Food. The Coup already offers a discount (10%) to Slow Food members. We are hopeful that this program will be expanded in 2017 and are always looking for help in growing this initiative and others we are involved in. The other tangible local benefit of your membership is that some of the funds from your membership are transferred to us, the Calgary convivium, to help us in maintaining our organization and furthering our local goals of; connecting producers, processors and consumers of good, clean, fair food; educating our fellow citizens about the myriad, complex issues arising from any analysis of our food systems; and advocating to make good, clean and fair food accessible to all.
Slow Food Calgary has had one of the largest and most dynamic memberships in all of Canada for a few years now, with more active members than any other single local convivium. We are proud of the integrity we maintain and the credibility we have built and our board members are often sought out when organizations such as the City of Calgary seek to gain a greater understanding of local food system issues and we have also in the past been involved in projects with AAFRD (Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development). We are also proud of the strong financial viability of our organization, which is registered as a not-for-profit with Alberta's Corporate Registries and has a clear sense of both it's ambitious goals and the sensible business practices required to remain effective and viable.
As the convivium leader since 2010, I have been fortunate to oversee the gradual transformation of Slow Food Calgary from an organization very much focussed on providing some consumer education within the context of a fine-dining experience, as demonstrated by our event history, into an organization with a much younger board composition focussed primarily on education, accessibility and advocacy, while never losing focus on the necessity for pleasure and joy in our activities. In spite of these changes we have maintained a strong sense of identity and commitment to sound financial management and to maintaining the relationships with the chefs, restaurateurs and producers who helped grow our local food movement. Recently, we have made the necessary connections to rebuild a Slow Food youth convivium in Calgary, and we are very excited about where this might lead!
Globally, the dollars you spend on a membership go to support a broad variety of worthy initiatives. Slow Food International operates The University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, organizes several international food events each year (Slow Fish, Slow Cheese, Slow Wine, etc) and on a bi-annual basis it organizes an international gathering of Slow Food Youth Movements (Odd years) and of Slow Food affiliated producers, chefs, academics, etc at Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy (Even years). Accredited delegates from individual convivia such as Calgary are hosted (all food, transportation, accommodations covered) by Slow Food while at the conference. Other campaigns such as 10 000 Gardens in Africa, The Ark of Taste and other educational initiatives are all funded by Slow Food. Over the course of the past 12 years, well over 100 delegates (producers, chefs, educators, and youth) have attended Terra Madre, representing an investment of over $200 000.00 in growing our local food movement by giving delegates the opportunity to teach, learn and share as they become part of the global Terra Madre network, with the goal of having these delegates return to spread their ideas and passion for good, clean, fair food in our local food system.
If you still have more questions, we are more than happy to answer: please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your ongoing support!
Kris Vester - President Slow Food Calgary