This Slow Food Eat-In in Highland Park, Los Angeles, was part of the 2009 Time For Lunch Campaign, SFUSA's first major attempt to combine food and advocacy on a national level. Photo: Lee Zamastil

When Slow Food came to the United States in 2000, it appealed mainly to people who could already tell their arugula from their radicchio — those who knew both farmers and chefs before the phrase “local food” implied anything more than the sum of its parts.

In the late ’90s, when chef and Slow Food New Orleans chapter founder Poppy Tooker first got wind of the Italy-based organization, which had formed in opposition to the globalizing fast food industry in the ’80s, she felt right at home. “When I read about this movement, I thought, this was what my life’s work had always been about: preserving foodways, valuing the food producers, closing the ties between chefs and farmers. And now there was an international organization out there ready to help me!”