Slow Food Movement Counters Fast-Food Culture

 

 

Fast food gets a bad rap these days. And for good reason. But what?s the alternative? Slow food, of course.

Eat Healthfully: Go Slow

  • Shop at farmers? markets or local family farms to appreciate the connection between the land and our food, as well as benefit from unprocessed and unadulterated food.
  • Look beyond fresh produce at farmers? markets. Try locally produced jams, pickles, breads and cheeses.
  • Collect traditional family recipes, especially ethnic recipes that celebrate your own heritage, and share them with family members.
  • Cook from scratch when you can. Taking the time to enjoy the preparation of food often means you?ll enjoy eating it more. And it can also be a good way to relax.
  • Take a tip from Italians and spend more time when dining. Turn the TV off and converse during meals. Table talk helps slow the pace of the meal as well as increase your enjoyment of it.
  • Enjoy the company of friends and extended family members at mealtimes when possible. Having company encourages you to plan your meals more thoughtfully and eat more civilly.
  • Take the time when eating to enjoy the aroma and savor the flavors and textures of food, rather than just eating to quell hunger. Slowing down means you?ll eat less?and enjoy it more.
  • When you do eat out, support family-run, sit-down restaurants.
  • Forgo eating while driving.

-A.S

 

Slow Food is a 13-year-old international movement that is gaining a following, well, slowly but steadily, like the snail in its logo. The group promotes the enjoyment of wholesome food as an essential part of a happy and healthy life. Dedicated to achieving a better understanding and respect for where food comes from, developing an appreciation for  unprocessed foods that are free of chemicals and pesticides, and promoting foods that use natural growing techniques and cross-breeding, not genetic modification, Slow Food also celebrates traditional foods and rediscovering the pleasures of dining by slowing down. EN likes all that.

The movement started in 1986, when Italians fervently protested the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant alongside the centuries-old Spanish Steps in Rome. Italians felt insulted by this intrusion of fast-food culture upon their own cuisine and culinary heritage. Thus, the backlash began.

In 1989, Slow Food International was founded in Paris, where the group’s manifesto gained endorsement by representatives from 20 countries, including the United States. Today, there are about 60,000 members worldwide, including 7,000 in Slow Food USA. Local chapters, known as convivia, operate around the country, organizing gastronomic, educational and cultural events.

“It’s more than a fine wine and food club,” explains Allen Katz, co-leader of the New York City chapter, the U.S. headquarters. “While about 50% of the Slow Food movement is pleasure-driven,” says Katz, “the educational component is just as important.” For example, special events may include wood-fired cooking lessons, making and eating bread during a visit to a family-run bakery, attending a tomato festival or enjoying a tea tasting.

For more information or to join a local convivium, call Slow Food USA at (212) 965-5640 or visit online at http://www.slowfood.com. Of course, you can adopt Slow Food practices on your own. They fit perfectly into EN‘s philosophy of eating healthfully, but enjoying it at the same time. See box “Eat Healthfully: Go Slow” for starter tips.

 

Slow Wins the Race

 

Here are some signs that the Slow Food message is making progress in the U.S.:

  • In his best-selling book, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, now available in softcover (Perennial, 2002), Eric Schlosser writes, “The glory days of the major chains seem to be over. Smaller regional restaurant companies are the ones now enjoying rapid growth in the United States.” Overall, the book is a fascinating report on the underbelly of the fast-food beast.
  • Farmers? markets have risen in popularity, increasing 63% between 1994 and 2000, now totaling nearly 3,000. To find a market near you, call the Farmers? Market Hotline, (800) 384-8704, or visit www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets.

 

 

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