USA Today hit town Thursday with a reporter and photographer writing about the “Slow Food – Slow Cities” movement, an Italian-born trend that is supposed to be some sort of protest against fast food and fast lifestyles.
We can hope Haya El Nasser, USA Today’s environmental writer, is a better reporter than Jayne Clark who wrote, in a manner of speaking, about Floyd in a recent USA Today piece about the Crooked Road — a poorly written report that was sketchy, vague poorly reseached and hardly worth the effort. But that’s the reason that USA Today is called “McPaper” in journalistic circles.
Nasser writes a lot about urban sprawl. I read her work when we lived in the Washington area (where she is based). What I remember most about her work is that it is hardly objective. Reporters with an agenda always bother me, even when that agenda is anti-growth, which I support. Journalism is better served by objective writers.
According to Jorge Ossanai, a doctor in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, the Slow Food movement “rejects the globalization of taste that does not belong to the people.” In other words, we should always eat local food and shun chains like McDonalds, Hardees and Applebees. We should avoid cookie cutter shopping malls in favor of local shopping. Both are laudable sentiments but we should also remember that business operates on the model of supply and demand. If such places did not offer appeal and services, they would not survive. I would love to buy everything I need in Floyd but, once in a while, I have to venture down to Roanoke and pick up something at Macys, Lowes, Home Depot or Sears because they have things that aren’t always available locally.
It also means we’re supposed to slow down our pace of life. That’s why most of us came to Floyd in the first place and we don’t need a hipper-than-thou movement from across the pond telling us how to do it. If I read the “Slow Food, Slow Movement” manifesto correctly, we’re supposed to embrace our local lifestyle based on what some folks in Italy say is good for us. Is that a reverse form of “globalization of taste?”
I’m always wary of embracing the trend du jour, especially one that brings a reporter from a national newspaper to town so she can write about how wonderful life is around here, which prompts others to move here so they can complain about how much better life would be is we just did things their way. Media attention is always a double-edged sword.
Fred First over at Fragments from Floyd thinks the attention is a good idea. So does David St. Lawrence at Ripples. I hope they’re right but I also hope we don’t have to remember the old Mongolian proverb of “be careful what you wish for.”