Monday, June 13, 2011

Slow Food

A friend recently commented that if we were really in tune with our bodies, we would feed them what they needed and not need “dietary guidelines”. I thought about this and realized that this really implies a larger problem going on today: that we have lost connection to ourselves. We look so much to the outside world for “expert” advice and guidance, we have maybe even lost the ability to listen to ourselves.

There is no doubt that we live in a fast-paced time. Life is hectic, people always complain they are so “busy”, and friendships, eating well, and carving out time for relaxation have fallen by the wayside. We seem to be living “mindlessly”. But living a mindful life today takes a concerted effort, when the fast life is all around us – fast food, fast cars, fast conversations (snippets on Facebook and Twitter, for example). We may be living great lives but we aren’t ‘there’ for them. We don’t take the time to linger over food, over friends, over our hobbies (if we even have any). We are not savoring life and I think many people are starving for a real connection to it.
The solution to “fast” then must be “slow”. Slow down and connect with life. If we don’t listen to our bodies and to that little voice in our head that is telling us to slow down we may succumb to the myriad of health conditions that are a result of leading fast, stressful lives: cardiovascular and other systemic diseases and even accelerated aging. The psychological costs are equally large with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other emotional illnesses associated with unmanaged stress.

There is a movement called “Slow Food” that was started in the late 1980’s by Carlo Petrini in Italy. It began as an outcry against fast food which was encroaching on the Italian food scene. A McDonald’s was slated to open near the Spanish Steps in Rome (some of my followers will remember we saw those same Steps together on our whirlwind Italy Tour in 2002). The Slow Food Movement was designed to remind us to enjoy regionally home-cooked food, and to savor it and use it as a way to connect with others. Fast food is the antithesis to this concept.

The objectives of the Slow Food Movement include:

• Educating consumers about the risks of fast food

• Educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms

• Educating citizens about the risks of monoculture and reliance on too few genomes or varieties

• Preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation

• Developing various political programs to preserve local farms

• Lobbying for the inclusion of organic farming concerns within agricultural policy

• Lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering

• Lobbying against the use of pesticides

• Teaching gardening skills to students

But I think regardless of whether or not we want to get involved with the political aspects of food, the concept of the Slow Food Movement is sound. Slowing down and enjoying our food, taking the time to prepare it ourselves, and gathering family and friends around us to enjoy it with us is probably something all of us could use more of. This has become so evident to me that so many people do not do this because where I work, nearly everyone nukes their food in the micro and then takes it back to their desks to eat it. I find this practice so depressing and really the epitome of mindless eating.

I encourage all of us to slow down. What’s the rush anyway? Work, and all the other non-essential stuff can wait a little longer until we finish our meal. Isn’t the most important thing in life to enjoy it while it’s here?

June 17:
Ironically, I was just perusing a new site I've been checking out a lot lately  and discovered someone else has been thinking about this sort of thing. Check out this link.

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