If you are a follower of natural health and food issues, than you have probably heard of “Slow Food,” a movement that began in the 1980s and has steadily gained momentum in subsequent decades. Now, as the obesity epidemic has continued to worsen and the grip that big agribusiness has over food has continued to tighten, many 21st-century people see the approaches put forth by the Slow Food movement as a solution to many of the world’s problems.
Tenets of Slow Food
The Slow Food movement promotes a wide-ranging philosophy that covers many food-related topics, some of which may not be relevant to each of us in our daily lives. But at its heart is the idea that we all need to be more thoughtful about what we consume and how we eat.
Here are a few of the main points that each of us can put into practice in our lives:
• To be a smart and healthy consumer of food, you have to educate yourself about how foods are produced, where they come from, and what types of health benefits they offer.
• We all have a responsibility to consume food that has been ethically produced.
• We should make an effort to support diversity of food and of food producers, which means supporting local, small producers.
• We should avoid supporting food producers and businesses that produce food unethically, produce food that has only negative health value, or operate in a way that is detrimental to small farmers or to the diversity of our ecosystem.
• We should make an effort to celebrate the diversity of food options available to us.
• We should teach our children and grandchildren gardening skills and impart to them the importance of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating.
How to get started
Knowing why the slow-food philosophy is important only gets you half way there. Next comes the harder part—putting these tenets into practice. If you are not sure where to get started, here are some ideas for things you can do.
• Read a few books by authors who are associated with the Slow Food movement or whose ideas are philosophically related. Focus on books that will help you learn how food is produced and why many of the prevalent production methods are unsustainable.
• Examine your current eating habits, and cut out anything that is not good for the world or for your health. As fast food is antithetical to the slow-food movement, now is time to cut out those periodic trips through the drive-thru.
• Start buying local and organic foods, being careful to avoid foods that are labeled organic for the marketing value but which are not actually sustainably produced.
• To help support local farmers, make a habit of visiting the farmers markets in your area. Though the produce can be pricy compared to what you find at the grocery store, keep the big picture in mind. Shopping at the farmers market is better for the world than shopping at the supermarket.
• Get involved in your local food community however you can. This might involve joining a neighborhood community garden, joining a food club, or attending classes on sustainable gardening or cooking.
• Always make an effort to support diversity in the foods that are produced. For instance, when you are at the farmers market and you come across an unusual fruit or vegetable that you have never tried before, buy a few. Also keep an eye out for unusual varieties of fruits and vegetables. There are hundreds of varieties of apples, for instance, and some of the best are in danger of disappearing from the world.
By Marc Courtiol