Founded in 1996 in Italy in response to the homogenous, unhealthy, and socially and environmentally destructive processes of industrial agriculture, the Slow Food Movement has generated renewed appreciation of local and regional food specialties and is reviving threatened agricultural varieties. In 1996, Slow Food launched the "Ark of Taste," a project that documents, catalogues, and safeguards small and quality agricultural diversity that is threatened, or potentially threatened, with extinction. Safeguarded products include plant species, varieties, and ecotypes, as well as well-adapted animal populations in a specific territory.
Local producers promote their products, preserve degraded land, and create employment through presidias, which set production regulations taking into consideration a product's cultural and historical aspects, biodiversity, environmental problems, and the needs of small-scale economies. Agronomic and livestock practices are proposed that are not aggressive to the natural environment. In some cases, the production regulations are explicitly organic and prohibit synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Examples include Saraceno grain from Valtellina, and the Zolfino bean from Pratomagno. Slow Food went international in Paris in 1998 and now the movement is found in forty-five countries and has over 80,000 members.
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