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By Carol Diaz and Kathy Matonak, Slow Food Sonoma County

Slow Food USA nurtures food justice through being a weaver of communities, a disruptor of injustice, a builder of relationships and a storyteller of our diverse foodways. This month, we’re going to explore each of those roles we play. As Builders, Slow Food USA fosters solidarity and cultivates relationships. 

We live in Sonoma County, a beautiful agrarian community just an hour north of San Francisco and 30 minutes from the ocean. This food centered community is the perfect spot to drink great wine, eat great food provided by fabulous farms and ranches, and enjoy the talents of artisan producers. 

Our chapter decided to investigate the Slow Food Snail of Approval Program in 2015 to inform our community of the food purveying gems we have, and build connections across the region. After several years of research, consultations, site visits, program development and travel, we began our program in 2017, starting with restaurant reviews. At that time, Slow Food and the Snail of Approval were unknown to many in our community. We invited a nearby chapter to join us in the venture, enlarging our range to all of Sonoma County. Seven Snails were awarded the first year. In 2018, we added farms and ranches to our program and awarded the Snail of Approval award to nine businesses. In 2019 we added artisan producers to our reviews, and then we screeched to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, we started reviewing again with farms and ranches since they were outdoors. We are currently working to add like-minded food Organizations to our categories. To date we have awarded 48 Snails. We tie together our rich food community and include all types of food purveyors, from food trucks to a three-Michelin-star restaurant. 

We celebrate our Snails at an annual award ceremony and invite the community to come and meet their chefs, farmers, ranchers and artisan producers. They hear our Snails share their interpretation of good, clean and fair food for all and what earning the award means to them. We have gone through fires, floods, earthquakes, and droughts together, and our Snails step up and provide for our community.