“Slow food” is a phrase used to describe the Slow Food Movement, a movement that began to fight against fast food. This movement began in Italy in the mid-1980s and put an emphasis on local, fresh food from the harvests available in any given region. Today over 120 countries have Slow Food organisations and it is estimated that close to 100,000 individuals belong to these organisations.
Aims of Slow Food
In addition to teaching individuals about the local crops and traditional methods of cooking and processing this bounty, the Slow Food Movement also aims to do a number of other things as it fights against heavily processed, preserved and pre-packaged foods. It hopes to attract younger members who will learn early about the importance of fresh, healthy food and who may also become inspired to learn more about the traditional food processes in their areas, such as sausage or cheese making. Slow food does not aim to become a brand (for example, it does not aim to produce food and sell it in markets under its own logo), but it does hope to help others come together such as at food fairs and farmers market so that local communities can explore their own talents and products. In fact, visiting a local farmers market is a great way for you to start to understand what is grown in your area and when it becomes available. Information on local farmers markets can usually be found in the local newspaper, in school, church or community bulletins, at local independent shops and on community notice boards.
Slow and In Season
An essential part of Slow Food is to eat whatever is in season. This means eating whatever fruits and vegetables are fresh and in season in your part of the world. Unfortunately simply buying organic fruit and vegetables will not help you decide what is from your area (and therefore fresh and in season at a particular time) because in the past up to 70% of these foods were actually imported from other countries. We have become used to having whatever we want whenever we want because this transport of food means that we can access the products of different climates from which different things are fresh and available at different times. Yet not only does shipping these items around the world create more pollution, but it also means that more packaging is needed to wrap and secure these items. Also, the time it takes these foods to travel means that by the time they reach your table their taste and nutritional values could be much less than when they started their trips. To totally do away with transportation of food, you could also consider growing your own.
Growing Your Own
Growing your own fruits and vegetables may seem like a scary prospect, but you actually have many options for this activity. You can grow in your back garden, in an allotment, in pots or by using a grow bag. The benefits of growing your own food include less (or no) pesticides, no genetic modification, cheaper prices, more flavour, more variety, less pollution to the environment and some fresh air and exercise as you garden. If you think that you would like to investigate growing your own fruits and vegetables, discuss your ideas with a parent or other interested adult.
Slow Food in the United Kingdom
For further information on the Slow Food Movement in the United Kingdom, visit the official organisation at www.slowfood.org.uk. Membership forms are also available online, though there is a cost so make sure you ask a parent or guardian before inputting any personal or financial information.