The drive-through window is an easy way to pick up dinner when you are rushing from work to home and need a quick bite before you leave again to attend meetings, choir practice, book club or whatever evening routine your family has on the schedule. One of the downsides to this habit is that it turns sustenance into an afterthought, and that's only the beginning of the problem.
By contrast, the slow food movement, started by a pasta dinner between Carlo Petrini and a group of friends, is a return to making food choices that truly sustain and nourish life. The basic philosophy of the movement is that the food people put on their tables should follow three essential principles:
- Good – High-quality food that is grown or raised locally
- Clean – Ecologically friendly production and consumption
- Fair – Accessible prices for consumers as well as good conditions and pay for producers
A slow food lifestyle is one that consistently meets these guidelines. Even small changes in your daily choices can have several great benefits.
Many people are hesitant to embrace slow food because it takes more time and planning than processed, convenient options. When it comes to overall health, however, faster is not typically better. When you invest more time to choose good, local foods that are free of pesticides and preservatives, you learn to appreciate the local flavors in season. Additionally, taking the time to prepare and enjoy a meal aids digestion and makes you more mindful about what you're putting in your body, so you're more likely to make more nutritious choices.
In the long run, slow food is also less expensive. Eating take-out can cost a family of four $50 a meal, and that's a conservative estimate. Even buying convenience foods at the grocery store can add up to a higher bill than shopping for fresh foods (mostly plants) along the perimeter. You may initially balk at the higher price you pay at the farmer's market, but when you look at your overall food budget for the whole month, you are likely to get a pleasant surprise when you buy slow foods that are local and fresh.
Learning more about your local seasons and what grows well where you live can give you a stronger connection to the land. Choosing more local and sustainable foods rather than those that are mass-produced also protects the environment. Good growing practices are a foundation of the slow food movement. It protects farmers, consumers and the land from the detrimental ecological effects of pesticides and single-crop farming.
Being more intentional about the food you eat and where it comes from naturally lends itself to conversations on the subject. This is a great way to teach children how to cook and nourish themselves while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Eating together also gives you built-in family time every time you do it, creating a space where you can connect over the delicious things you have created together.
Furthermore, slow food connects you to your community at large. Talking to the farmers at the market about their growing practices and recipes they like is a completely different experience than purchasing food that was shipped in bulk to the grocery store. Farm-to-table restaurants and social groups give you a new way to forge relationships. Connecting food producers to consumers who in turn share that food with each other builds a stronger community.
Knowing where your food comes from is only one benefit of the slow food movement. While making better food choices is good for you and your family, the advantages for your community and the planet are also plentiful.