Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. Slow Foodies believe that the food they eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or their health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.
The Slow Food movement is a reaction to the fast food lifestyle. By choosing to become a part of the Slow Food movement, you’re making a choice to be a co-producer rather than a consumer; an active, proactive and informed part of the food chain that recognizes the “connections between plate and planet.” Here are a few ways to get involved and become a Slow Foodie yourself.
10 Slow Food steps to take
1. Understand what slow food means
Slow Food is about more than food; it’s about a lifestyle that connects our food consumption to the wider social, ethical, lifestyle, political, environmental and spiritual elements around us. Slow food is about eschewing haste and recognizing that over-reliance on fast food damages our health, social fabric and cultural food traditions.
2. Join a Slow Food group in your region
The Slow Food movement has over 80,000 members in more than 120 countries, so it’s probable you have a group near you. Your local group will be known as a “convivium” and you will find your local group via Slow Food Where To Find. Of course, you don’t have to join to be a part of the Slow Food movement; it’s just a chance to be with like-minded people with whom you can share ideas and participate in events together.
3. Get cooking
That’s right. Stop buying the pre-made selections and start pulling out your recipe books. Look for family heirloom recipes passed down through the generations; many of us can recall delicious meal occasions prepared by family members, or even by ourselves before the need for speed overtook us. Be careful about your recipe choices, however. The fancy cookbooks might call for ingredients that need to be imported from many thousands of miles away; avoid these and favour recipes that let your local produce take centre stage, including veggies and fruit from your own garden.
4. Shop locally
Shopping locally is a key element to being a Slow Foodie. Shop at your local farmer’s markets, your local fruit and vegetable store and even consider asking for veggies from your neighbours if they’re growing some. Not only do you save the wear and tear on the environment from all the energy consumed in transportation, but you also know where your food came from, which is quite a reassuring feeling. The greatest benefit of shopping locally though? The food is fresh, which tastes the best.
While some companies may put forth a vision that genetically modified food is the promise of the future, there remain many questions about the speed at which such modification is occurring and the means by which it is being achieved. Certainly, we’ve been modifying our food for centuries, but the key word here is centuries, not a matter of years. The Slow Food movement has a fundamental opposition to the use of genetically modified food products because in making a large swathe of common food sources generic, we risk losing the all important diversity and quality of food available around the world and replacing it with mono-crops that become more susceptible to disease, providing less variety and possibly increasing the chances of human-induced disease by over-concentrating on a few food types.
Where possible, choose organic over conventionally grown food to reduce your exposure to pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals. You also get produce that many studies have suggested are higher in nutrients, which bolster the immune system, presumably because plants not treated with pesticides must produce more antioxidants to protect themselves. Organic food is an important part of the Slow Food movement because organic food is low impact and harm reducing, especially when practiced on a non-industrial scale.
Whether you have space for a container of herbs or for a large veggie patch, you can become a direct force in your own food production. For those who dwell in small residences, use the window sill and balcony to grow herbs and fruit trees in pots. For those with larger gardens, plant vegetables in seasonal rotation and enjoy the freshest food out there. It’s a good idea to involve children in gardening, to aid their understanding of the connection between soil, food and their own health. Start children with easy-to-grow plants, such as radishes, herbs and peas. Encourage them to eat some of their crop raw, straight from the garden, so that they can taste just how delicious a fresh pod of peas or cob of corn really is.
8. Share your home-cooked meals
Not everybody can cook. Those who are infirm, disabled or simply too busy to consider the value of slow food are just some examples of people who aren’t in a position to cook. Share your cooking talents to help out those less fortunate; and if you’re trying to convince others about the message of slow food, what better way than by setting the example with your own delicious food? Tempt them…
9. Cook with the kids
The earlier children get involved in the kitchen, the better. Children who know how to cook are not at the mercy of the fast food industry and know automatically how easy it is to whip up their own fresh food at home. Moreover, in teaching kids how to cook, you share a family tradition together that will bind you closer together and this helps to pass on traditional family knowledge. Encourage kids to enjoy cooking at home by letting their imaginations take a key part in the cooking process; creating shapes and food themes is a fun part of making food for the table.
10. Pack a healthy lunch.
For work, school, outings and play, take a home-prepared lunch. Soup can be kept warm in a thermos, sandwiches can be kept fresh by pre-cutting the filling, but only adding it to the bread at lunchtime. Homemade baked goods, cut fruit and veggies, salads and leftovers can contribute to a well-rounded and tasty lunch that lets you spend more time enjoying your lunch hour and keeping extra money in your wallet. Save that extra money for a delicious meal once a month in a restaurant that follows Slow Food principles.