words DOUG GEYER  |  portrait photography DEOGRACIAS LERMA


Remo Bellucci remembers celebrating the harvest with a meal big enough to feed the small village that was his family.

Depending on the crop, a legion of aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered the wheat, corn, or grapes which graced his grandparent’s farm in Ancona, Italy. Bellucci remembers the pastoral scents of those seasons. He still hears the promise of wine in the lazy bubbles of fermentation. Bellucci sees the faces and intimate bonds behind the food that sustained the generations of families.

Bellucci remembers the relationships.

This imprint of relationships naturally draws him to Slow Food, a movement he’s been involved in since the early ’90s. Slow Food is an international grassroots community founded in Italy in 1986, committed to promoting a food culture that is good, clean, and fair. The members see a world “in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it, and good for the planet.”

This Italian-born family has been fruitful and multiplied with over a million supporters, one hundred thousand members, and a global matrix of convivia, or chapters. In 2004, Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, began pioneering a unique, holistic perspective to food science.

Bellucci graduated with a degree in biochemistry from the University of Bologna and spent the last three decades working in research and development at Procter & Gamble. Many years have passed, his own children birthed and grown, yet he remembers well his idyllic childhood around food. Bellucci wants to create new memories from that older time, to slow everyone down—one meal, one community at a time.

“There are different elements to eating. Of course, we eat to meet nutritional needs, for our health. But there is also the experiential component to food. Engaging our senses. The smells, the tastes, how it looks. But there is also the social [component]. Like eating with my fifty cousins after the harvest,” Bellucci adds, laughing.

Bellucci is affable and self-effacing as he enjoys the waltz of red wine, baguette slices, and ramekin of baked cheese. This unassuming scientist is more eager to extol the virtues of Slow Food than to focus on his own considerable accomplishments.

Bellucci’s lifelong mission is unmistakably married to Slow Food. He has led several initiatives focused on biodiversity and the creation of local food communities. He has also raised funds for their 10,000 Gardens in Africa program. Bellucci’s work with Procter & Gamble brought him all the way from Pescara, Italy, to Cincinnati. Since 2013, he has served as a board member at the local Slow Food chapter and is actively building up the region’s network.

For many, “slow” is a curse—a blasphemous utterance in the Temple of Fast. But for Bellucci and Slow Food, food is both personal and political, where even small choices can have a huge impact. Choosing the snail as their movement’s mascot is a statement of solidarity with the power of slow.
“The words we choose when we talk about eating say something about our culture, I think. ‘Let me grab something to eat real quick,’ ‘Let me shove this down before we go,’’’ he says. “Like when the waitress comes by and asks, ‘Are you still working on that?’ I don’t work on my food. I enjoy it.”

Food, according to Bellucci, including its procurement and enjoyment, must be a journey in itself. It’s not merely fuel for travel. He observes the increasing number of family meals compromised by the glow of distracting devices, not to mention the sharing of photos of food rather than the memories with those around us.

“Life is about relationships,” Bellucci affirms with sincerity. “The people I’ve met while living in Cincinnati through Slow Food, the farmers in Northern Kentucky, the wonderful chefs, my many new friends… it’s connected me to so many people. It has made my time here so much more meaningful.”

As he considers his life as a soon-to-be empty nester, with his son and daughter finishing their college careers and starting the next chapters of their lives, Bellucci is smiling and open. Though where he’ll be in the coming months and years is uncertain, it’s clear he’ll be surrounded by friends and slowly savoring each delicious bite.


(Pictures of food producers with the “Snail of Approval” award are interspersed in the photo gallery.)