- Understand what slow food means. Slow food is about more than food; it is 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 recognising that over-reliance on fast food damages our health, social fabric and cultural food traditions.
- Join a Slow Food group in your region. The Slow Food movement has enlisted over 80,000 members in at least 122 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 is just a chance to be with like-minded people and to have the chance to share ideas and to participate in events together; benefits that may enthuse you.
- cooking. That's right. Stop buying the pre-made selection 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.
- 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 long-range transportation but you also know where your food came from and that's a very reassuring feeling. The greatest benefit of shopping locally though? The food is as fresh as possible and that just tastes the best.
- Avoid genetically modified food. Whilst 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 have 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 healthy variety and possibly increasing the chances of human-induced disease through over-concentration on a few food types.
- Buy organic. Where possible, prefer organic produce over conventionally grown food. You reduce your exposure to pesticides, fungicides and fertiliser chemicals and you get produce that many studies have suggested are higher in nutrients that 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.
- Grow your own food. Whether you have space only for a container of herbs or space for a large veggie patch, you can become a direct force in your own food production. For dwellers 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 there is. It is really important 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 children 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.
- 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 are not in a position to cook. Share your cooking talents around to help out those less fortunate; and if you are 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...
- 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 and 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.
- The Slow Food movement began in Italy, in 1989. Carlo Petrini advocated against fast food and was the founding member of the Slow Food movement.
- Drink municipal water where safe; bottled water requires high energy usage to bottle and transport and there are concerns about leakage of chemicals from the plastic bottles. It is better to agitate for sustained municipal water supplies than to pay more per litre for water than for fuel; water that often is filtered municipal supplies anyway! Add a filter to your home taps and enjoy what you are already paying for and support the local waterworks.
- Many traditional cooking methods have fallen into disuse because of the time that they required to prepare and cook. Many people have solved this problem by preparing large quantities of old-style food in one day (imagine that you were going to have many guests), then freezing it in meal sized containers for easy defrosting and consumption. Freezers are very useful tools for the modern kitchen.
- Never forget that your slow cooker can be started in advance and allowed to cook all day, maintenance-free; and that when in a rush, a pressure cooker can greatly reduce the time necessary to cook items or entire meals! (Pressure cooking a half gallon of fresh-snapped green beans requires less than 10 minutes, and entire roast beef only takes 15 minutes per pound of meat.) Additionally, a huge "bale" of fresh spinach microwaves in minutes! Not all "slow" cooking has to be inconvenient or a long ordeal -- the word "slow" refers more to Anti-Fast-Food.
- Test your soil for toxins. If you live in an urban area, or anywhere that may have once been industrial you would be well-advised to test your soil before growing vegetables. Even healthy looking soil could be contaminated with lead, mercury, zinc, cadmium, or PCBs. In the US, the local Agriculture Office should offer these testing services to their residents, along with relevant advice concerning growing things in your immediate area.
- It is easy to believe that organic farming and fair trade products are safer and better for the world. However, many experts disagree with the hype. Remember that while "organic" uses no pesticides or fertilizers and is thus "clean," it is a business model just like any other, and presents its own problems and challenges.
Things You'll Need
- Time (though not as much as you'd think)
- A passion for food that is good, clean and fair
- Farmers' markets, local fruit and vegetable stores
- Garden or container garden