Int'l 'slow food' festival to kick off Tuesday

UIJEONGBU, South Korea, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- A major international "slow food" festival will open in South Korea this week, featuring hundreds of eco-friendly local foods from around the world, organizers said Monday.

The 2013 AsiO Gusto is set to open in Namyangju, east of Seoul, Tuesday with the participation of more than 40 Asian and Oceanian nations, they said. "AsiO" is a portmanteau of Asia and Oceania, and "gusto" means "taste" in Italian.

"Slow food" movement is purportedly the answer to the prevalent fast-food culture represented by McDonald's. The "slow food" campaign started in Italy in the 1980s and now has some 100,000 members in more than 160 countries around the world, according to the festival's website.

On Monday, organizers continued to prepare for the event with most of the participating delegations scheduled to arrive during the day.

"Of the three major international slow food events, Italy's Salone del Gusto and France's Euro Gusto are akin to exhibitions," said Lee Hyeong-ju, the festival's director, "while AsiO Gusto is more like a festival, so it will be more enjoyable."

The three main pavilions -- differentiated by theme and country -- will feature nearly 1,200 foods from 76 countries that face extinction, as well as traditional foods from 30 countries in Asia and Oceania, according to organizers.

Visitors will also be able to taste various foods and drinks from 22 nations at booths lining a 40-meter-long "world food street," they said.

The festival is scheduled to run for six days under the theme, "Slow-Food, Changing the World Through Taste." Its program includes an official opening ceremony and international conferences and workshops.

The conferences and workshops will kick off on Oct. 2 and run for three days, during which nearly 90 experts from 20 countries will discuss the latest trends and studies on slow foods around the world.

The festival will also feature music, dance, cooking contests and various exhibitions and interactive events, the organizers said.

It is expected to draw some 300,000 visitors, they added.

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