Carlo Petrini and Massimo Montanari are the leading figures in the creation of the University, whose goal is to promote awareness of good food and nutrition.
Good, meaning a high quality product with a flavorful taste, clean meaning the naturalness in the way the product was produced and transported and fair, meaning adequate pricing and treatment for both the consumers and producers.
In 2017 the organisation was forced to make a series of staff layoffs and reductions and had faced a significant reduction in their income from wealthy supporters.
This was partly attributed to the economic recession, but also to disagreements within the movement and a loss of several key personalities.
These are locally based organisations that hold events and education outreach programs that benefit their communities while carrying out the message of the slow food and advancing the local environmental movement.
The movement also encourages the creation of urban gardens.
Beyond the chapters established within the cities in the United States there are a number of Universities that are becoming recognised by Slow Food USA, including the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Slow Food-University of Wisconsin has five projects that are dedicated to the movement's efforts, including a Family Dinner Night, weekly cafe and a Farm to University scheme.
From then there have been 46 Slow Food chapters established on campuses of higher education.
Slow Food UK works to raise strategic awareness about sustainability and social justice issues surrounding food and farming in Britain.
Global headquarters are located in Bra, near Turin, Italy.
Numerous publications are put out by the organisation, in several languages around the world.
Recent efforts at publicity include the world's largest food and wine fair, the Salone del Gusto in Turin, a biennial cheese fair in Bra called Cheese, the Genoan fish festival called Slow Fish, and Turin's Terra Madre ("Mother Earth") world meeting of food communities.
In 2004, Slow Food opened a University of Gastronomic Sciences at Pollenzo, in Piedmont, and Colorno, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
The Colorno branch has since been closed and transferred to Polenzo as well.
The first edition of Slow Food's first solo effort was released in 1993, with the title "Slow Food guide to the wines of the world", translated into 5 languages and sold in more than fifty thousand copies.
Some of the criticisms aimed at the movement are socioeconomic.
For example, without significantly altering the working day of the masses, slow food preparation can be an additional burden to whoever prepares food.
In contrast, the more affluent society can afford the time and expense of developing 'taste', 'knowledge' and 'discernment'.
Slow Food's stated aim of preserving itself from the "contagion of the multitude" can be seen as elitist.
Slow Food is a grassroots organization founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.
It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement.
Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products. 360 convivia in Italy — to which the name condotta (singular) / condotte (plural) applies — are composed of 35,000 members, along with 450 other regional chapters around the world.
The organisational structure is decentralised: each convivium has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through regional events such as Taste Workshops, wine tastings, and farmers' markets.
Offices have been opened in Switzerland (1995), Germany (1998), New York City (2000), France (2003), Japan (2005), the United Kingdom and Chile.
In 2014 Slow Food UK devolved into Slow Food England, Slow Food Scotland, Slow Food Cymru and Slow Food Northern Ireland.
Slow Food UK as an entity provides administrative support to those nations and local groups, and the Slow Food UK Board is now made up of directors from the nations (Shane Holland (Chair) and Trine Hughes, Directors for England; John Cooke, Director for Scotland; Margaret Rees, Director for Wales; and Claire Marriage and Craig Sams The 27 local groups are led by Slow Food members, who take significant grassroots action in their local communities.
Some of these groups are very large, such as Slow Food London, and run programmes such as the Slow Food Global Schools Twinning Programme which are more akin to the work of a National Office.
Slow Food London is also the major campaigning Slow Food body within the UK, responding to every local, national and European consultation on food, fisheries and agriculture; and has even been a co-signatory in Judicial Review against the UK Government in regards to food and farming, retaining a leading firm of solicitors pro-bono on an ongoing basis.
Besides running national education programmes, such as Slow Food Kids, and Slow Food on Campus, Slow Food UK National Office co-ordinates fights to preserve British culinary heritage through the Chef Alliance and Forgotten Foods programmes (UK Ark of Taste).
The Chef Alliance is a network of chefs committed to protecting Britain's edible biodiversity by cooking with Forgotten Foods, or foods that are produced on a very small scale and are being lost due to commercial varieties overtaking the market.
The Forgotten Foods programme is part of the Slow Food International Ark of Taste.