Phil Lesh Rocks the Slow Food Nation


A two-hour set from Phil Lesh and Friends was the perfect close to San Francisco’s Slow Food Nation events. Over the course of the Labor Day weekend, sixty thousand people attended Slow Food Rocks concerts, lectures by luminaries such as farmer-poet Wendell Berry, a tasting event, and picnics at various locations across the city. A World War II style Victory Garden, planted at the Civic Center in July, produced food that was ready by late August for distribution to people in need.

At Fort Mason’s Great Meadow, the performers’ backdrop consisted of breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco cityscape. The weather cooperated with a sunshine daydream kind of day; by the time the openers took the stage, the fog had burned off. Brief educational speeches came between sets by London Street, G Love and Special Sauce, and the John Bishop Trio. Phil delivered sunny tunes, including Sugar Magnolia, Sugaree, and a lovely Box of Rain.

The Slow Food movement challenges us to contemplate the entire cycle that turns soil, air, and sunlight into the cells of our bodies. To protect both health and social justice, we must take into account the condition of the water supply, the treatment of animals that some of us eat, the nutritional content of our food, the work practices and economics of farming and distribution, the social rituals that surround the preparation and consumption of our meals, and how we dispose of the waste.

The network of music and arts festivals is taking the lead around creating traditions in keeping with this attitude of awareness. Foods for sale at Slow Food Rocks included healthful fare like salmon and organic salads instead of hot dogs and nachos. To meet the guidelines for a “zero-waste event,” packaging was recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

The Rex Foundation supports many organizations working in the intersection of food and social justice. Visit the Rex Foundation site to learn more about the work of grantees such as Oakland People’s Grocery, Sustainable Fishery Advocates, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Dinner Program for Homeless Women, and Rock and Wrap it Up.