Why would a couple with two young children travel for over a year to volunteer on farms around the world, all while living out of two backpacks? Let us explain. Here it goes!
The Basic Nuts and Bolts:
Our family (Jason, Jill, Stella and Romolo) is backpacking across Italy and the United States to learn Slow Food by exploring working farms! Our time on each farm will range from weeks to months, with us choosing specific farms based around a wide variety of agriculture, viticulture, salumi and cheese making, tourism and so much more. The future goal driving our desire for knowledge is to have a working farm of our own, growing and creating Slow Food.
WWOOF Italia and WWOOF USA are the organizations that enable us to partner with multiple farms. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms and is an organization in over 50 countries that connects volunteers to farm stays (Visit the WWOOF International site). In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming.
A Bit About Slow Food:
Slow Food is an organization, but it is also a way of thinking about food and how it relates to us. In essence, it is a support for good, clean and fair food. Slow Food USA sums it up best below.
The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity.
When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity.
We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.
Food, Farms, and Family:
There are many different things that make people excited to get out of bed in the morning and seize the day. These are some of our interests that helped motivate us to take this trip.
- • God and His Creation. Learning about His creation and engaging with others is one of the best ways we connect and give honor to Him.
- • Slow Food. It is a beautiful thing and it was founded in Italy!
- • Travel. Between the two of us we have traveled to over twenty something countries. Travel is an amazing education and we are so happy to be doing it with our children.
- • Coffee. The elixir of life to get every day started proper. With an espresso bar every twenty steps in Europe, we might need to detox after this trip!
- • Entrepreneurship. Someday we hope to birth a business from our experiences on this trip. Our goal is to have a farm. Yes, I said a farm…
- • Animal Husbandry. We want to learn how to raise animals and how to use every part them in a respectful way, without any waste. NOSE to TAIL!
- • Wine. “Red, Red Wine…” by UB40 keeps going through my head. Do we really need to explain this one?
- • Restoration. Whether it is remodeling homes, furniture or whatever else we can fix up, we both love to rebuild, make new, and create. Working with our hands is a gift we want to expand our knowledge of. One day, we hope to apply it to the land.
- • Hospitality. We have been working in the hospitality industry for years (hotels, cake business, tending bar, kitchens, restaurants) and enjoy it! (If you read this blog, make sure you tip well!).
- • Volunteering. We are excited to come along side some amazing people and lend a hand in whatever way we can!
- • Our Italian Heritage. What better way to explore it than to immerse yourself in it?
- • Simple Living. So a backpack seems ideal.
OK, OK. But Why? I still don’t really understand.
In the US, people have become completely detached from where their food comes from and many times, don’t know how to cook with raw whole foods and ingredients. That detachment has given many people a skewed perspective of what food actually is. Fast food and prepackaged foods are the norm. Cheap “food like” products, processed foods, the Industrial System of feedlots and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), and foods containing Genetically Modified ingredients (GMO’s) are causing destructive health and social problems in our society! Think about all the issues of obesity, heart disease and diabetes we are facing, even among our children. There is so much cheap garbage for us to eat, and Americans eat and eat and eat, yet are starving nutritionally. Our ability to produce large amounts of seemingly cheap food has incurred a greater cost to our health and wellness.
So for us, it is more than just learning how to cook better or how to make the most amazing risotto in Italy (although we hope to learn these things). It is more about learning Slow Food, preserving food culture and biodiversity, and gaining hands on experience. We want to truly learn the basics of farm to table and help change the future by playing an active part. This is not an elitist food culture thing, but a getting back to the basics kinds of trip for us. As the Slow Food organization states, supporting good, clean, and fair food. We want to learn, apply it to our lives, and share it with you.
This has been, and is, an amazing process for us. If you have any questions, or still don’t totally understand what we’re doing, feel free to ask. I promise we don’t bite!
Jason & Jill DiLoreti
PS – It’s always good to laugh at yourself. Here’s a hilarious video clip from Portlandia. Enjoy!