Snail of Approval Awards
Snail of Approval
Snail of Approval Standards
In order to help guide area residents and visitors to food that is good, clean and fair, we’ll be awarding the Snail of Approval to those producers, purveyors and artisans who contribute to the Quality, Authenticity and Sustainability of our food. Don’t wait for us, start thinking about these standards every time you purchase food.
Quality is fundamental—food must taste good and be good for us. Quality includes: the freshness and wholesomeness of ingredients; the care and craft with which they are handled; the quality of life of consumers, producers and their neighbors. It is a standard of Quality based on food that is good, clean and fair.
Authenticity means that the food is true to its source. Natural products free of additives are true to themselves; local, seasonal foods are true to their time and place; heirloom varietals and heritage breeds are true to their evolutionary history; traditional foods are true to their cultural heritage. Authentic foods come from and contribute to ecological and cultural systems that are good, clean and fair.
Sustainability means that we must pay attention to the consequences of how we produce and distribute food. We must be good stewards of the environment in which we live; we must protect the biodiversity on which we depend; we must be humane to the animals we raise, fair to the people we employ, and we must insist that high quality food be available to all. Sustainability means reducing all the negative consequences of making food – it means using processes that are good, clean and fair.
Anyone may nominate any food or beverage provider that serves Westchester County and that contributes to the Quality and/or Authenticity and/or Sustainability of our food supply, by submitting an email to the SFW Steering Committee (potential recipients may not nominate themselves); a coordinator selected by the Committee will vet the nominees and forward appropriate nominations to the Steering Committee; the Committee will then select the recipients. Recipients will be listed, along with a description of their products and services, on the Snail of Approval page of the SFW website.
What is the Snail of Approval?
The Snail of Approval originated in New York City. It is one of Slow Food NYC’s many innovative programs and projects. (http://www.slowfoodnyc.org/programs )
The Snail of Approval is Slow Food Metro North’s way of recognizing the food-related providers that are making significant contributions to the transformation of our food system to one that is good, clean and fair.
How does one get a Snail of Approval?
One has to be nominated by a member of Slow Food, and then chosen by a committee of members who review the nominees’ contributions to three standards: Quality, Authenticity, and Sustainability. Look at the standards, the nomination form and the procedures used to select recipients on this website.
How do I know if my favorite place is qualified for a Snail of Approval?
Take a look at the standards, and ask yourself: Do the foods (how they taste, where they come from, what culture or tradition they represent), and/or the processes (in-house curing, farmstead cheesemaking, baking in a wood-fired oven), and/or the business practices (using local ingredients, featuring fair-trade products, informing the public where the food comes from) help move us toward a food system that is better, cleaner, fairer? You may also have to ask some questions of a proprietor, or chef, to understand exactly what they’re doing and why. “Where do the ingredients come from?” “What do you do when strawberries go out of season?” “Why do you make it that way?” To fully appreciate the food we eat, we need to enjoy it, and we also need to know something about it.
So does a Snail of Approval guarantee that a restaurant or shop is “Slow?”
No. We can’t make that kind of guarantee, and we don’t certify that any food or food business is “Slow.” A Snail of Approval means that Slow Food members think the recipient is making a real contribution to the kind of food system we believe in, and we think their effort is worthy of our support.
What about a place where the food is great, but it’s not sustainably raised? Or a place that serves local foods, but has all imported wines?
The Snail of Approval standards talk about food that makes “significant contributions to Quality and/or Authenticity and/or Sustainability.” The American food system is a long, long way from the good, clean and fair system that Slow Food envisions; in order to help us get there, we want to recognize those who are making real steps in the right direction.
Let’s take a French restaurant, for example, that buys all its food from small local farms, but where the chef wants to pair French regional wines with his French regional dishes. He or she is not supporting the Long Island wine industry, but is making contributions both to sustainable agriculture and to authentic French cuisine—not a bad day’s work. Whether those contributions add up to a Snail of Approval will be for Slow Food members to decide.
If I patronize Snail of Approval recipients, am I supporting Slow Food?
You’re not supporting the organization, but you are supporting the cause. When you eat at a Snail of Approval restaurant or shop at a Snail of Approval store, Slow Food doesn’t benefit financially, but the food system benefits a great deal. You’re supporting local farmers and food artisans, sustainable agriculture, and humane treatment of animals. You’re helping to stop agricultural pollution, reduce greenhouse gases, and slow the loss of biodiversity. You’re ensuring the survival of endangered heirloom varietals, heritage breeds, and traditional foodways.
Is the food from Snail of Approval providers organic?
Maybe, maybe not; you’ll have to ask. Organic agriculture certainly tends to be more sustainable than agriculture dependent on the overuse of chemicals. On the other hand, organic vegetables from China burn a lot of fuel getting all the way to New York, which might be much worse for the planet than using a little fertilizer on a Jersey tomato.
And getting USDA Organic certification is expensive, so some small farms don’t bother, even though they use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
How can I find Snail of Approval restaurants and stores?
You can search for them right here on the Snail of Approval website.
There’s a great little restaurant near me that uses all local produce—can I nominate them for a Snail of Approval?
Are you a member of Slow Food? If so, take a look at the standards, and then send us an email about why you’d like to nominate a Snail of Approval. If not, click the membership link—you can join right now online.