People often link the United States with mass-produced fast food. But these days, a lot of Americans are going back to basics. Chefs and diners alike are rediscovering homestyle food that is simply prepared using the freshest ingredients.
That’s thanks in part to the Slow Food movement, which began in Italy more than 25 years ago and came to the United States in 2000. Originally just a niche network, Slow Food USA has 200 chapters and 12,000 members today.
The Slow Food movement celebrates local foods and food traditions. It also promotes a more communal, sustainable way of eating. A growing number of American restaurants have adopted Slow Food principles, serving fresh, seasonal food from local farms in a relaxing atmosphere.
Americans also are becoming more interested in where and how their food is raised or grown. That is part of the reason farmers markets, a common sight 100 years ago, have been making a comeback. Today, there are more than 8,000 farmers markets nationwide.
Farmers markets create an important link between farms and cities. They give consumers access to locally grown, farm-fresh produce and enable farmers to develop a personal relationship with their customers.
The organic foods movement also is growing rapidly, as more Americans seek out naturally grown foods. Organic foods have become a $35 billion industry in the United States.
Anyone selling products labeled as organic must follow strict standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and be certified — including undergoing an on-site inspection every year.
The “USDA Organic” seal guarantees that fruits and vegetables are produced free of genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation and without the use of prohibited pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge. The standards also prohibit antibiotics or growth hormones in livestock.
Learn more about America’s rich culinary tapestry — and try some of its most innovative foods — at the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.