A participant in a Slow Food Nation event
A participant in a Slow Food Nation event - 
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Food prices have climbed 6 percent in the last year, and that's changing the way many Americans eat. No more French cheese, that's for sure. But at a time when food can seem like nothing more than a big pain in the wallet, a giant festival opens today in San Francisco that celebrates what's for dinner. Krissy Clark reports.

Krissy Clark: The festival's called Slow Food Nation, as opposed to, you know ...

Drive-through fast-food employee: Hi, may I help you?

Customer: Hi, can I have a Southern-style chicken sandwich please?

... the fast food we're used to. Americans eat an average one in five meals in their car. Slow Food Nation organizer Anya Fernald says the alternative is much more fun.

Anya Fernald: Slow food would be something like sitting down with your friends to a dinner that you made yourself. You can make something from scratch that you usually buy processed.

The festival will tempt 50,000 visitors with demos on "green cooking," field trips to local farms and tasting pavilions for coffees and artisan salamis. Fernald knows slow food may be a hard sell to Americans these days. It can be a lot more expensive.

Fernald: Well, you're going to pay now, or you're going to pay later. They're going to be paying in terms of their health bills and the environmental consequences long down the road.

In San Francisco, I'm Krissy Clark, for Marketplace.