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Bob Bowles: high-tech community conductor/ Knows where his food comes from.


Bob Bowles is technologically savvy and a conscious eater. Combine those two traits, and you've got a man that can not only bake his own breads but can even build his own Italian, wood-fired bread oven. "Because of my professional work in 'high-tech,' I needed to balance my life with 'high-touch,' which I sought through Slow Food," Bob explains. He heard about the Slow Food movement six years ago when it arrived in the U.S. When a group in Weaverville took hold of the idea, Bob, who'd always been concerned about eating sustainably grown, non-artificial foods, volunteered his technical support, and the rest is history. There's now Slow Food Asheville, of which Bob is a founding member, past president, and current ex-officio on the board, as well as membership and newsletter coordinator. And he does it all while serving as the director of Barnardsville's Big Ivy Community Center.

What are some of the main goals of Slow Food Asheville?

At Slow Food Asheville, we want to help people understand the connection between the sustainable farm, their own tables, and their relationships with their community. We also seek to restore healthy traditions, heritage foods, and the traditions of the region that people live in. It's our hope that most food can be produced locally in a sustainable environment, and that small, artisan farmers can flourish in our communities.

What are some accomplishments in your work with Slow Food Asheville of which you're most proud?

Every two years we raise funds to send local artisan farmers, bakers, educators, cheese producers and local food leaders to Italy for the Terra Madre gathering of world food communities. Even more important is our support of local farmers, tailgate markets, natural food stores and local wineries and breweries, by helping people educate their palates to what natural, nutritional foods are available and how to integrate them into their lifestyles.

What is the group's most current concern or focus?

We want our members (over 600 in WNC) to have local meetings in their communities and, while sharing their food and traditions, to set goals and take actions that will help their communities be prepared for the economic and social consequences of our future.

Are there any common misconceptions about the movements?

Yes. You don't have to be wealthy to afford natural, sustainable foods. You can grow much of your own food by simply replacing existing landscaping with edible plants, and you can join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and receive enough food to feed your family all year. It takes time to shop at a tailgate market, or to freeze or can vegetables and fruits, but by slowing down and engaging in these activities, you'll find a more rewarding experience than shopping at a "Big Box" food store.

Who is/are your hero/heroes?

My heroes are past and present visionaries who had the foresight and ambition to bring to Western North Carolina such icons as Penland School of Crafts, John C. Campbell Folk School, Warren Wilson College, and restaurants like The Market Place, Salsa, Early Girl Eatery, Stone Soup, farms such as Hickory Nut Gap Farm and Yellow Branch Cheese, and, of course, the founders of our many tailgate markets.


What is your perfect meal?

I think the perfect meal is bread, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and a glass of wine or beer shared with family and friends. The visual delight, the richness of taste, and the comfortable conversations that arise at such a simple repast fill the soul with harmony.

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Title Annotation:life's leaders
Publication:New Life Journal
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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