Fourteen food businesses from across the Auckland region recently became New Zealand’s first to be awarded a ‘Snail of Approval’ – a massive vote of confidence in our local producers from the internationally acclaimed Slow Food movement. Slow Food is a global, grassroots organisation, founded in Italy in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. It has since grown to more than 160 countries worldwide, including New Zealand.

The Snail of Approval programme fosters and celebrates our producers, growers, chefs, restaurant owners and food outlets and all those who use and promote good, clean and fair ingredients that are grown and produced locally.

The recipients of the inaugural NZ Snail of Approval are: Scarecrow Kitchen, a café, florist and grocer; Italian restaurant and fresh pasta maker Pasta & Cuore; Brick Bay Wines in Matakana for their wine, olives and restaurant; olive oil producer Rangihoua Estate on Waiheke Island; Curious Croppers of Clevedon, growers of heirloom tomatoes; makers of artisan ice cream Giapo; charcuterie producer A Lady Butcher; chocolate makers Foundry Chocolate of Mahurangi West, Warkworth; Clevedon Buffalo, makers of buffalo-milk products; artisan beekeepers Earthbound Honey from Bethells Valley; organic community garden Kelmarna Gardens; organic grocery delivery service Ooooby; Hangi Master of Te Henga for earth-oven kai; and restaurant and delicatessen Cazador.

What it means for you is that when you visit or purchase from these 14 businesses you can have confidence that they are trying their damndest to bring you food that is good (delicious, nutritious food that strengthens community and promotes diversity), clean (food which protects natural resources and promotes sustainability) and fair (offering accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers). In addition, it’s food which is accessible to all and celebrates a diversity of cultures and traditions. Terry Shaw-Toomey of Earthbound Honey was nominated by Slow Food to attend their 2010 Terra Madre world summit, one of the many worldwide beekeepers and other grassroots producers in attendance. “This experience has kept close to our hearts and will remain one of the most humbling memories of our life. The ethos behind Slow Food is something that we try and recreate at every meal time. Supporting local, sustainably sourced food from equally passionate and caring growers and food producers is a weekly activity for us,” he says.

Slow Food Auckland Committee Member Anutosh Cusack says that this initial launch in Auckland is the first step to rolling out the Snail of Approval in other regions across New Zealand. “By recognising their intent, passion and effort rather than perfection, the Snail of Approval is intended to inspire all types of food businesses to embrace Slow Food principles.” slowfoodauckland.co.nz