Thursday, February 17, 2011

Slow Food

Sense of Home

With life being so busy, everyone rushing here and there, deadlines, stressful meetings at work, and an overflowing "in box", we need a time during the day that is deliberately slow.  A time when we can slow down and prepare a meal with our hands.  There are so many fast food choices, everything from frozen meals, to drive-thru, to delivery, but what we put in our bodies should not be rushed.  Slow Food USA describes slow food as "an idea, a way of living and a way of eating."  USA Today said "Slow Food aims to be everything fast food is not."  Slow food has made its way into some of the schools improving lunches and establishing school gardens. 

I own and have read "Slow Food Nation" by Carlo Petrini and "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters; I think of these two as pioneers of the slow food movement.  However, this slow way of producing food, by growing our own vegetables and fruits, making our own food from scratch, and sitting down to dinner around a table with our families is really how people have eaten for centuries.  It is only recently that the balance of food and life have gotten so off kilter.  I received a free bumper sticker with a recent Penzys order that simply reads "Love people.  Cook them tasty food."  I like that, I tacked it on the side of my refrigerator with magnets.  Taking the time to prepare a homemade meal is a demonstration of love, even if we are the only one eating.

There needs to be a time during the day when we come together to slowly prepare and eat our food.  We should be sitting around the dinner table enjoying homemade dishes rather than popping something into the microwave and sitting in front of the TV to consume our nourishment.  When we sit at the dinner table to eat, even if we are eating alone, we are consciously eating, we look at our food, taste our food, and are aware of how much we are eating.  We also slow down and thoughtfully eat, being more aware that we are getting full, thus less likely to over eat.

In order to properly digest our food and get the most nutrition out of it we need to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Something so simple as this can be a challenge when we are rushing out the door to get to work, eating while driving, or at our desk while we type that report.  Eating on the run and then taking an antacid for our upset stomach makes little sense; we need to allow time for our meals.  To carry the slow food over to my work day, I bring left-overs in a bag to work, or I go home and warm them up; taking time out of the middle of the day to sit down, eat and relax, even if it is a brief lunch break.

The deliberately slow attitude can creep into the rest of our life as well.  I began bicycling to work a couple years ago during the warmer months. It is only about 3 miles to work so it isn't a big effort, but slowly peddling to work uses most of my senses, making me more aware of my surroundings.  It was a calming part of my day and I look forward to getting back on the bicycle, and on Wednesdays, stopping at the farmer's market on the way home.

Growing a vegetable garden, gathering wild foods, preserving food in jars during times of bounty helps carry that slow food way of life throughout the year.  These apricot preserves help to make a delicious apricot kefir smoothie.