Results of the Spring 2010 Slow Food Greater Olympia Survey

The following is the full report on the Spring 2010 Member Survey.

Summary of Findings

How the Survey Was Conducted

In late April of 2010, several board members divided up the membership list to conduct the member survey by phone. If after several phone calls, members who did not respond were sent an email version of the survey. Prior to starting the survey, members were notified that they could opt out or complete the survey via email. Six individuals completed the survey via email and seven opted out of the survey. All board members used the same survey instrument (see the end of the report for the survey questions).

Who Responded

Board members tried to reach 40 member households and got complete responses either by phone or email from half those households. The 20 households with members responding to the survey represent a good mix of new members during the past year (9) and those who have been with Slow Food for awhile (11). The respondents also were fairly evenly divided between men and women.

Participation in Events

In the past year, most respondents had attended one to three Slow Food events or related events announced via the Slow Food emails.

Family or work responsibilities were citied as the reasons most were unable to attend any events, or fewer than they would have liked.

Longer standing members and those who joined this past year were equally likely to have attended no events or to have attended several events this past year.

Respondents Priorities for Slow Food Membership

Members were asked to identify one or two priorities for being in Slow Food. The responses were wide ranging but one concept, a focus on local food production, emerged as a priority for more than half the respondents.

Eleven (11) respondents mentioned support of local farms/producers or foods as a priority for their membership. Among the priorities respondents linked to the word “local” were:

The focus on local foods was expressed equally by members who joined Slow Food last year and longer term members.

The other priorities that were listed more than once by respondents were:

The other priorities, each cited by one respondent were:

Events That Interest Respondents

Respondents were also asked to list up to four types of events that most interested them. Most respondents listed one or two events of most interest, but several listed four event types, thus the chart below shows 42 events of interest to the 20 respondents. Based on their comments, each event type mentioned was assigned to one of six categories, though some events could easily fit into other categories (tour of farms or cooking classes, for example, could also fit the food education category.) More details about each category are provided after the chart.

There were no differences between newer and longer standing members in terms of the events mentioned. Just over have the mentions in each category were from longer standing members and just under half the mentions were from newer members.

Food Related Education Events (11 mentions): Three respondents listed “education” as their specific interest without providing further detail. Two respondents said they liked to learn about food production and those same respondents were also interested in classes that discussed food for wellness. Two respondents mentioned an interest in book discussions and one mentioned film discussions. Another respondent wanted to learn about local products. One respondent summed up her educational interest by saying she joined Slow Food to learn to use “locally grown produce in a cost effective and efficient and tasty manner.”

Cooking/canning Classes (10 mentions): Eight respondents said they appreciated cooking classes. Four of the respondents specifically mentioned an interest in cooking local, seasonal foods. One respondent mentioned an interest in ethnic foods and another in new food techniques. Two respondents were interested in canning classes.

Food Enjoyment Events (6 mentions): An equal number of respondents mentioned dinners (three respondents) or potlucks (3 respondents) as events of interest. One of the dinner mentions was specifically related to progressive dinners either at home or in restaurants. Several respondents linked their interest in local foods with their interest in dinners or potlucks suggesting a local food focus for these events. One member who did not complete the survey, but spoke about events with a Board member could be added to this category as she expressed interest in wine tasting and chocolate tasting.

Food Activism (6 mentions): While food activism was a separate later question in the member survey, it was mentioned as a kind of interest to six respondents. Some respondents mentioned specific legislative interest, but others used the term “food activism” without further detail. As one member said, she liked that “Slow Food is not a social club, but a more purposeful group involved in food activism.”  

Benefits to Community and School (5 mentions): Two respondents wanted events that support farm preservation. One respondent mentioned GRuB specifically. The others mentioned community and school without more specifics.

Tours of Farms/Producers (4 mentions): Two respondents specifically were interested in farm tours for children so that children would know where their food comes from. Another respondent specifically expressed interest in visiting Estrella’s (cheese.) Another mentioned an interest in visiting a farm that produces meats locally.

Participants were asked if the events of interest were offered frequently enough. Most respondents expressed appreciation for the current frequency of offerings. Three respondents recommended that more events with a local food focus be offered each year. Two respondents recommend more programs that are of benefit to local schools or the community. One respondent each suggested the need for more book discussions, progressive dinners and food activism.

What Would Make Participation Easier

Three respondents indicated that their own time or priority setting was at issue related to their limited participation in the past year. Three others said timing of events should be more varied to increase their opportunity to participate. Two of these respondents indicated that events on week nights would be best and one suggested Tuesday and Wednesday specifically to accommodate their out of town travel on weekends.

Food Activism

Respondents were asked specifically about the importance to them of a Slow Food focus on food activism. Most respondents (15) said that food activism is an important part of their reason for being in Slow Food. The focus of food activism varied. The Slow Food emphasis on school lunch was mentioned by seven respondents. Local farm or food issues were mentioned by four respondents (included mention of support for farmers markets and farm preservation.) Other areas of activism mentioned were food justice and the need to learn to cook again as a society.


Most respondents found the national and especially the local Slow Food emails of value. Some indicated they don’t always read the emails or only skim for highlights, but they found the information about local events and national issues of value. Given limited time for reading emails, some respondents mentioned that emails need to be brief and to the point.

Willing to Host Events

Seven respondents said they would host events at their homes. They provided information on the number of individuals and types of events that they could host. The hosting offer details have been shared with the Events Team.

Further Input

If you are a member and have further input or did not get a chance to provide input earlier, we still would welcome your feedback. You may send feedback to Loretta Seppanen or if you prefer to provide feedback anonymously, send your input to our webmaster and ask to have it forwarded without your email address.

Survey Questions

  1. 1. During the past year, have you been able to attend any Slow Food sponsored events or any events you learned about from the Slow Food emails or website? (If no – what precludes participation? If yes, about how many events this past year?)

  2. 2. What kind of events, information or activities are you looking for by being a Slow Food member? (Ask to list up to 4 events)

  3. 3. (For each event listed in #2) In the future, would you like to see more offerings than in the past year or would you say the current offerings are offered with appropriate frequency?

  4. 4. (For each event listed in #2) What changes would make your participation in this type of event easier?

  5. 5. (For each event listed in #2) Would you be willing to host this type of event? (Details on how many can be hosted, timing, parking.)

  6. 6. How valuable to you are the emails you get from Slow Food such as the online Slow Food USA magazine called The Snail, the Slow Food USA Food Chain email newsletter, and email announcements from our local Slow Food chapter? Of Value, Not of Value, Sometimes of Value, Sometimes Not.

  7. 7. To what extent is food activism of interest to you? The birth of Slow Food involved chanting and placards at a protest against the opening of a McDonalds below the Spanish Steps in Rome. Food activism continues to be part of the Slow Food USA agenda. Last year’s focus was on giving kids the school lunch they deserved. We held an “Eat-In” at the Farmers Market as part of this activism. How would you describe the importance of food activism to you? Important part of Slow Food, Not part of Why I Joined Slow Food, Sometimes Important, Sometimes Not.

  8. 8. What kinds of information, events and activities are most important to you in terms of your membership in Slow Food membership? If you had to pick the most important focus for Slow Food Greater Olympia - just one or two types of activities, events or information -- what would they be?

  9. 9. What else would you like the Slow Food Board to know about your Slow Food interests?