How “Slow Food” is Winning Over an Over-Scheduled Culture.
Who has time for “slow food” or a “slow food movement” (which sounds like a euphemism for what happens after the coffee kicks in)?
I don’t. I’m very busy. And very important (wink, wink). If I could piggyback a double espresso on top of a Red Bull I would if it wouldn’t land me in the E.R. And of course if I drank Red Bull. Which I don’t.
And who feels even remotely okay with fast food these days? Answer: crickets. Not when we are deluged with constant, streaming information regarding refined “this” and GMO “that” and big food producers and their lobbyists and Dark Acts. First, lets recap our perception of “fast food”. We know the connotation is crazy refined, crazy, cancer causing preservatives, GMO’s, hormones, antibiotics, sanitary and humane issues, wrapped in a big bun, (or tortilla) of fats, calories and sugars.
Enter the Slow Food Movement. The organization began in the mid-80’s by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in Italy after they held a demonstration protesting the future site of a new MacDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome. The international movement drafted their official manifesto a few years later. Their website states, in part, “Slow Food is food that’s good for us, good for our environment and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it. In other words, food that is good, clean and fair. In many ways, Slow Food is the opposite of fast food. Slow Food is fresh and healthy, free of pesticides and chemicals, and produced and accessed in a way that’s beneficial to all – from the farmer to the eater.”
As for the name? “It’s a way of saying no to the rise of fast food and fast life. Slow Food means living an unhurried life, taking time to enjoy simple pleasures, starting at the table.”
I have never once misperceived Italians as being a society prone to over scheduling their lives. Turns out I’m pretty right. I also can’t even imagine an unhurried life. But I can imagine “…taking time to enjoy simple pleasures, starting at the table.” I can’t do away with traveling soccer, the two dogs, housework, horseback riding lessons, the part-time job and the husband. Ah, but the table.
The table feels achievable.
Still. A modicum of planning is necessary. I can plan the blankety-blank out of my life. Executing said plans seems to invite every obstacle in the universe to pop up for a close-talker-like chat.
Planning. Ugh. The current object of envy of my adult-life-with-kids is a woman I know who shops once a week, cooks all day preparing healthy meals and snacks to be stored conveniently in the freezer in GLASS containers. Granted her kids have some pretty unusual food allergies. Funny. She (with some help from her physician) through trial and error, isolated artificial colors and various preservatives in prepared foods as the offenders. Real funny right?
Anyway, there may or may not be color-coding involved in her system. If I look too closely my self esteem drops to dangerously low levels. My kids don’t suffer from anything as severe as the food allergies my friend’s kids do. No. They suffer from a mom who believes with her whole heart and in the European manner in which she was raised that moderation is key. Quality is key. That food is medicine. Food is joy. Food is communal and sensual. Food is love, it is love in its preparation, and love in what it does for our bodies when it is the right kind.
Food is breathing, laughing, being connected by, if by nothing else, our combined pleasure of it. Yet I have struggled for years to muster the commitment to manifest these beliefs on a consistent basis. Like the Hare, I have been and often am, harried. I sometimes boast, if you will, glorifying my busyness, scoffing at those who’ve dared to plod ahead more slowly, methodically, persistent, never losing site of the end game.
So the “tortoise” mom I previously mentioned, the one big on planning? I reluctantly realized she was onto something. I thought it couldn’t hurt to attempt to emulate her cadence. I was wrong. It did in fact hurt. Because to quit my belly-aching and reach for a higher quality of living required me to upset the current state of my circus. That meant balls were gonna drop.
What I’m learning is, at break neck speed, managing marriage, home, children (FOR CRY AYE the CHILDREN!), work, cars, school and societal participation, extended family, maybe a little exercise here and there… is it is NEVER OVER. My inbox is NEVER EMPTY.
So I asked myself one day, “Self. Where can I slow us down? Where can I create an “eye of the hurricane” for us? Reasonably and how?” One of the simplest and most powerful, steady and consistent ways I have found is to make good food a priority. I vowed to find three times a week we could share a meal, even if in a or from a conscientious restaurant (Buenas Noches Chipotle! Buona Notte Bake 425!). And to provide my kids breakfasts and snacks I feel supports them.
Need something more concrete? Dig into some inspirational research to get your feet wet (you aspiring tortoise you!) Check out www.dinneralovestory.com and www.thefamilydinnerproject.org. Let some balls drop. Cancel a couple of commitments. Then, pick one, just one of the three suggestions below to do this week. Do it again next week. And again, until you feel confident in it. Then pick a new “just one”.
1.) Learn how to roast a chicken. I use this recipe though I have yet to locate a six pound chicken. I do everything exactly as it calls for with the exception of the pan juice gravy thing at the end. It’s probably great. Knock yourself out if you like. My family has no patience once this succulent smelling bird is out of the oven to tarry with me trying to make a pan sauce (bunch of hares in this house!).
Mastering a roasted chicken will make you feel like the entertainer, mom, wife, food activist of the century! If you’re single, it will feel like you’re “mommying” yourself in a way you probably need as you’re out there kicking ass and taking names all day, all week! And the leftovers can be used for a quick salad or sandwich. Please. Get a great chicken from Whole Foods or your butcher, organic or pasture raised. It’s an easy, sensual dinner that will slow you down in the best way.
2.) Bob’s Red Mill dried soups and chilis. Make a big pot. Or research recipes (I LOVE the Yummly app for all my recipes – like Pinterest for cooking but more intuitive!). Use one of those cool bullet food processors. The less labor intensive the more likely you’ll do it. Add grass fed ground beef or ground poultry and done. Smells up the house so good. Freeze if there’s leftovers for a quick on the go meal or after school snack.
3.) Learn THREE simple, muffin/quickbread recipes. Yes three, so you can rotate them and no one gets burnt out on one right away. You’re gonna have all the paraphernalia out anyway, just go for it! Careful. This can actually be an addictive pursuit. Especially if you share them and get accolades. The ego will do ANYTHING for accolades.
Just buy all the staples so all you have to get at the store is a few varying ingredients. It’s fun to do with kids (or the date that slept over!), or after the kids are asleep put on music or your favorite RHO-franchise and enjoy the solo creativity. Just don’t get discouraged. I don’t have a baking-thumb. There have been some debacles. There have been some tears at what I thought was time and money wasted and tired feet.
Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, try, try again. The trick to quickbreads/muffins for me is this: I always keep ground Flaxseed meal, quick cook oats, and Tara’s Organic Grass Fed unsweetened, plain whey protein on hand. I’m a reformed hare, successfully milling about with other actual tortoises because I took the time to Google how to properly sub 1/3 of the flour in a recipe with the whey protein (two scoops has an extra 22 grams!) and it doesn’t disrupt the texture of the muffins.
I’ll add 2-4 Tbsp of Flaxseed meal for health properties and the oats just when a recipe calls for it. I look for recipes that call for oats because my son does not like oatmeal, but I would very much like for him to eat it. Likewise I search for recipes that include moisture-rich, mild veggie adds like zucchini, avocado, even pureed spinach (chocolate masks SO much! Just be sure it’s organic!).
What you call “sneaky”, I call “creativity” (still using that argument from my teen years). Quick breads/muffins are the fastest way to look like you really know what you’re doing because most people don’t take the time to discover how easy they are. Freeze your successes. If there are any left to freeze. The fact is we are more heavily scheduled than any previous generation and due to the slippery slope-side of all the innovation proliferating in our world, and a “we can have it all and do it all” approach to life, authentic societal and emotional connections are scarily easy to forgo. In fact, in light of what’s on the schedule, they are a forgone conclusion.
In actuality, we as a society have more time than we ever have had in the past, right here, right now (I mean did you have to churn the butter yesterday?) But I’ll give it to you; it sure doesn’t feel like it. But I can prove it. Take the time to bake a chicken, or a muffin. By it’s very nature, learning something new, doing something new, slows us down. You might cry, but you might laugh. Your body will thank you. Your loved ones will too (with their mouths full…when you remind them…) Bottom line, if we slow down, we may actually lose this race and win our lives back.
About the Author: Angela Bomeman
Angela Borneman is the proud wife of Bill Borneman, owner of Bake425, Farm-To-Crust, Take and Bake Pizza, and work-at-home mother of son William Craig, 10 and daughter Leila, 7 (and two toddler labradoodles). She and her motley crue reside in the suburban North shore area of Chicago, IL. The entire Borneman gang helped to create pizzas and salads that aim to bring busy families back around the dinner table, enjoying clean ingredients, supporting local artisans and producers, full of nutrients, without the chemical additives and preservatives so common to convenience foods.
Angela is an advocate for family (hers and the institution in general!), the earth, clean eating, hunger, the arts and female-solidarity. She studied fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago and screenwriting at UCLA. Angela is also a retired certified massage therapist and wellness geek. Currently Angela is a freelance, guest columnist championing moderate living; helping families make reasonable, informed choices in mindful eating, exercise and living.