International Slow Food Festival Draws Over 500,000

October 8, 2013
People lined up to try food from Iran. (Yonhap)

People line up to try cuisine from Iran. (Yonhap)

(Yonhap) More than a half million people visited a six-day international slow food festival in Korea, organizers said Monday.

The 2013 AsiO Gusto in Namyangju, east of Seoul, featured hundreds of slow foods from all over the world, with emphasis on the culinary riches from the Asian and Oceania regions. The festival closed its week-long program Sunday.

‘AsiO’ is a portmanteau of Asia and Oceania, and “gusto” means “taste” in Italian.

A total of 533,000 people visited the festival that included international conferences, workshops, and diverse tasting events, according to the Namyangju city government’s Slow Food Culture Center and Slow Food International.

The three main pavilions – differentiated by theme and country – featured nearly 1,200 foods from 76 countries, as well as traditional foods from 43 countries.

Visitors were able to taste various types of food and drink at booths lining a 40-meter-long “world food street.”

“The event brought more visitors than expected. Its success shows how much people are interested in healthy food,” a city official said.

The “slow food” movement is purportedly the answer to the prevalent fast-food culture represented by international chain restaurants. The slow food campaign started in Italy in the 1980s and now has some 100,000 members in more than 160 countries around the world, according to the festival’s website.

The Namyangju event also promoted one of the international slow food agency’s key projects – the so-called Ark of Taste, in which the organization travels the world to collect small-scale, quality food products that face extinction, the organizers said. The agency has so far collected 1,179 such “endangered foods and seeds” from 76 countries, which include eight from South Korea.