Slow food – maybe you’ve heard the term, but aren’t quite sure what it refers to. Is it a protest against fast food chains? Is it a movement to chew each bite a certain number of times? Is it a complaint that cooking takes too much time?

Well, none of the above, though the first idea comes closest. The slow food movement aims to be an alternative to fast food, to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, and to encourage the farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic to the local ecosystem. So what does that mean? Over time, the slow food movement would like our food culture to move away from large-scale agribusiness, and begin focusing on small farms throughout the country – including in cities!

California has just taken its first steps toward encouraging the slow food movement. On September 28th, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act. The Act authorizes tax breaks for landowners who lease their property to urban farmers. The Act serves two purposes – first, it encourages the growth of urban farms in California cities, which will help combat the instances of food deserts common in urban areas. Second, it will encourage landowners to do something with their vacant lots, rather than allow them to lie fallow. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of urban green spaces on health and wellness along with community safety – by encouraging urban farms, California cities will benefit both from these green spaces and from access to fresh produce.

Urban food deserts are a problem throughout the country. Congratulations to California for taking steps to combat the issue.

Image Credit: Green Sudbury