The slow food movement is a global movement based on three foundational principles: good, clean, and fair.
Food is deemed ‘good’ when it is healthy for our bodies, flavorful and of high quality. ‘Clean’ refers to the production and growing process, which shouldn’t degrade the environment. The final pillar of slow food is fairness, which is centered around the fact that what we consume should not be detrimental to someone else’s livelihood - the people who grow food should be earning a fair wage and experience safe working conditions.
The slow food movement began in the 1980’s in Italy, when a McDonald’s was scheduled to open near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Activists gathered and made their concerns known, shouting “we don’t want fast food…we want slow food!”. This small group of dedicated individuals kickstarted what is now a global grassroots organization spanning 160 countries and boasting over 1 million supporters.
In contrast to highly processed fast food, slow food emphasizes nutrition, sustainable farming practices, welfare for food producers and preserving the diverse bounty in your local community.
Top 5 Reasons To join the Slow Food movement
The onset of industrial agriculture has changed the way our food system operates on such a profound level, it’s sometimes easy to forget how food used to be grown and enjoyed.
Generations past lived off of seasonal produce and used traditional preservation methods in preparation for colder months when vegetation stopped growing. Before the term ‘organic’ even existed, they grew fruits and vegetables on small-scale farms without the use of pesticides, and let fields fallow to ensure nutrients in the soil were given time to regenerate.
Their diets consisted primarily of whole foods, in contrast to the growing aisles of today’s mega supermarkets with endless aisles of packaged, heavily processed products.
The slow food movement seeks to harness the wisdom of the past to help heal our ailing bodies and suffering planet, so that we can live a more fulfilling, healthy life through what we choose to put on our plate. Here are 5 reasons why you might consider participating in the slow food movement in your community:
1 - Nutritional Value
The longer that fruits and vegetables need to travel to their final destination, the less nutritionally dense they will be. Produce is best when it’s allowed to ripen naturally, picked at its prime and consumed as quickly as possible. We’ve all seen limp and lifeless vegetables at the grocery store - choosing to eat more locally automatically means you’re accessing food that has more nutritional benefits for your body.
2 - Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases
Incorporating more whole foods into your diet can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic disease. The nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are essential for your body to thrive, and when those are removed, we can immediately begin to see our health status and vitality decline.
3 - Improved Digestion
Our modern diets lack the fiber content our bodies need in order to function best. So much of this can be attributed to our lowered consumption of whole fruits and vegetables - juices are great but you end up losing so much fiber content when juicing produce!
A healthy gut microbiome is critical to our overall health and it can have devastating consequences when it’s depleted, including certain autoimmune diseases and cancers. It’s crucial to feed our body what it needs to absorb the nutrients from our food and then rid if of the unnecessary waste in a timely fashion.
4 - Boosts Mental Health
Though it’s not something we often think about, brain function is affected by nutrition in a major way. When our brains lack the key nutrition elements they need, symptoms of anxiety and depression can arise and we may not link it to the foods we are eating.
With so many ‘brain food’ supplements on the market, it’s easy to buy into the quick fix solution of pills in a bottle. But amping up the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits in your lifestyle can have a phenomenal affect on your well-being, including your mental health.
5 - Love your Neighbor and Nature!
Feeling a sense of connection to the food you consume is impactful in a host of different ways. When you meet a local farmer and see the hard work, sacrifice and dedication necessary to grow the food you’re purchasing, you’ll be less likely to waste it by letting it sit unnoticed in the fridge.
How You Can Make a DIFFERENce
With everything you’ve learned about the slow food movement, has your interest in exploring this global community grown? Though the conveniences of our current food system has its appeal, it’s important to recognize where we’ve come from and the wisdom of our ancestors when it comes to leading a sustainable and happy life.
The changes you make to your grocery, cooking, and eating habits can have a ripple effect. Make an effort to support independent bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and cheese producers in your neighborhood. Seek out a farmers market to visit this summer and talk to the farmers about why their work is important.
Food is all about community, and returning to that concept is an important foundational belief of the slow food movement.