The wholesome goodness of slow food is finding its way from the dinner plate to the rest of the home, with a new movement called slow goods. In a battle of big brands and logos vs. authenticity and craftsmanship, slow goods are seen as higher quality and longer lasting.
A recent Globe and Mail article traces the origins of the slow goods movement to Scandinavia and Japan, where mass retailing of cheap goods did not push quality, handmade products to extinction. Characteristics of slows goods include the use of craftsmen in the process, on-shore manufacturing, sustainable practices, small production numbers and higher prices. But if you compare the lifespan of a product crafted with quality and care and meant to last, with the lifespan of a product intended for disposal in a few short years, the value proposition is obvious.
A cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better, the slow movement was born in 1986 over the opening of a McDonald’s Restaurant in Rome. It advocates for a cultural shift towards slowing down the pace of life and has grown from slow foods to slow cities, slow living, slow travel and now slow goods. The slow movement is affecting the design, architecture and construction of LEED certified “green” commercial buildings rated through the procurement of sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques, reduction of environmental footprint by reduced shipping across land or water and the revitalization of local manufacturing industries.
Slow goods is a welcome phenomenon in the world of mass consumerism, as cheap offshore products continue to overtake our landfills. And slow goods is a welcome phenomenon for local retailers in their bid to differentiate from mass retailers and each other. The products that a local artisan crafts are part of the fabric of our society, each a different page in the story of our local culture. Besides quality over quantity, another characteristic of slow goods is the ability to learn about the craftsman who built it and understand what inspired them to design it.
Hopefully we will see the trend of slow goods, which has a lot of traction in Toronto and Vancouver, find its way to Nova Scotia. Because the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.