Slow Food, Slow Living

By Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin

The Slow Food Organization was founded in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and is now recognized in 160 countries worldwide. It began when Petrini formed a group of people to protest the opening of a McDonalds in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Their logo is appropriately a snail, but it’s not necessarily about living life at a snail’s pace. It’s about simplifying and savoring life.

What do the words “slow food-slow living” conjure up in your mind? Ask 100 people and you’ll get 100 different answers.

I first became aware of The Slow Food Movement through the work of one of my mentors Chef Alice Waters of the famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, California. Among her many accomplishments in promoting simple, organic, farm-to-table food is championing the Edible Schoolyard program which has taken school lunch reform to a national level. She worked with Michelle Obama on the “Let’s Move” program and established and planted the White House organic garden. She has also served as the International Slow Food Vice President since 2002.

For me, it’s not just what we eat, it’s about a mental and emotional shift in perspective. It’s about getting close to nature, enjoying freshly prepared meals, and knowing where that food came from. Was it humanely raised? Did it come from an industry that is sustainable? How did it arrive on the plate in front of you? Knowing how to eat with the seasons is also a big part of it.

The slow food movement promotes cooking with locally produced food. This in turn encourages us to eat with the seasons and to support local growers. For example, tomatoes are now at their peak during the warm summer months, so plan recipes that use them frequently during this time. A simple organic tomato can have explosive flavor without extra embellishment. It’s simplicity is beautiful, healthy and delicious.

This cultural shift is the perfect discussion to have during the summer months when our hectic lives slow down, and it can become easier to explore this lifestyle. It’s about avoiding alcohol, drugs, and other addictive behaviors that we use to numb ourselves, and putting limitations on technology and toxic news cycles.

So find a fishing pole, walk barefoot in the grass, harvest some fresh vegetables, bake a homemade dessert, read an actual book. Eat outside, notice the sky and listen to the birds sing. Seek to relish simplicity, but above all, strive to practice gratitude.

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