Máo Zédōng was wrong. Revolution is a dinner party:
The term "foodie" is no longer reserved for an exclusive club of chefs and discriminating diners. Today, food has become a focus — and a cause — for a broad audience, from individuals such as . . . Chico [Cal.] residents offering their yards to an idealistic urban farmer, to corporations such as Chipotle, which this month announced that each of its more than 730 restaurants will be required to buy a percentage of the produce it serves from local farms.
Sodexo, the world's largest food-service company, now sources from 700 independent, regional farmers and is overhauling its menus to focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Wal-Mart announced last month that it plans to buy and sell $400 million worth of locally grown produce at its stores in 2008. "It's no longer the fringe elements," said Tracey Ryder, founder of Edible Communities, a publisher of regional food magazines. "We call it the new mainstream."
This weekend, the movement shows its strength as tens of thousands of food activists gather in San Francisco for Slow Food Nation — four days of political rallies, lectures, dinner parties and tastings. The conference, three years in the making, is the first national assembly of the American wing of Slow Food, an Italian organization founded in 1986 in reaction to the opening of a fast-food restaurant (a McDonald's) in Rome.