January 2006

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Deli News

Deli Food, Slow Food

by Dan Moore, Deli Manager

The slow food movement began in Italy in 1986 as a reaction to the standardization of taste and the threat to cultural variety, flavors, and biodiversity. It has since spread across the world. In the U.S., the group is dedicated to celebrating regional cooking, artisanal food, and the sheer joy of food and cooking. Slow Food USA has five guiding principles: sustainability, cultural diversity, pleasure and quality in everyday life, inclusiveness, and authenticity/integrity in their message, their food, and their projects. These are the exact principles that brought me to Willy Street Co-op’s Deli—principles we share in their entirety and strive to meet with every decision and every recipe we make. Here’s how we work to meet these principles.


First off is sustainability. Fostering community control and educating our members on food politics are key components of our Co-op’s by-laws. In the Deli, we view sustainability and the fostering of local growers as integral to both these by-laws. We use local growers throughout the year. Creating markets for local and organic farmers cuts down on transportation, enables local farmers to stay in business, and promotes agricultural practices that ensure biodiversity, environmental responsibility, and fresh food. We do our best to write menus that use seasonal ingredients so we can maximize our ability to provide this market to our farmers, while creating food that our members can truly enjoy.

These menus strive to include cuisines from throughout the world, and to recreate these cuisines in as accurate a manner as possible. While we use ingredients from local artisanal cheese makers and produce grown locally (whenever possible), we research recipes thoroughly to try and make them as close to the original intent as we can. We make feijoada from a recipe created in Brazil, salsas from Central America, and jambalaya using as many authentic Cajun ingredients and flavors as we have available. By doing so, we hope that we can give you dishes and flavors you may never have tried, and meet the principles of cultural diversity and authenticity by giving these foods a wider audience.

Pleasure and quality

Ideally, the result is a meal you can truly savor. The most important principle to me has always been improving the pleasure and quality we experience from our food. Encouraging folks to take their time to savor a meal and teaching staff and members how to cook happily are important considerations in how we develop our menu and how we run our business. In our lives we don’t often take the time to cook for ourselves. At the Deli, we hope to give you a taste of the difference made-from-scratch food can make in your enjoyment of a meal. We provide our recipes upon request whenever possible, and are happy to offer advice when needed. We don’t do this because it makes us more money. We do it because we love food, and we want you to as well. We understand that we are here to provide a service for those of you who understandably don’t have the time to make a home-cooked meal, while at the same time encourage everyone to try to find the time. Cooking with family or for friends is one of the great joys in life, and if we can inspire you to do so that is a great achievement.


The final principle is inclusiveness—ensuring that our values are manifested in our events, in our staff, and in our commitment to working with like-minded people and organizations. While I’d like to think this is at the very heart of everything we do here at the Co-op, I know that in the Deli we provide the same foods described above for member activities, staff parties, and in our everyday menus. Our staff is committed to continuing their own education on these topics, to listening to the needs of our members and striving to meet them whenever possible, as well as working with local farmers, co-op groups, and national suppliers that share both our love of food and our commitment to providing and creating markets for sustainable, environmentally sound products.