Slow Food Shifts Into High Gear

July 6th, 2009

slow_food_logoMonday’s the day when many of us ramp up our schedules; the leisurely weekend brunch gives way to the hasty pastry. We eat in our cars, at our desks, or on the street, munching mindlessly while we multitask. Once the work week gets underway, it seems that sitting down to a civilized meal becomes all but impossible for most of us. Yet Slow Food USA is determined to reverse this trend.

Slow Food USA is an offshoot of the movement that began in Italy in 1989 as a rebellion against fast food. Its stated mission is to “create dramatic and lasting change in the food system” by advocating food that’s “good, clean and fair.” But what does “good” food mean? Slow Food USA defines it as “delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals.” “Clean” food is “nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies.” “Fair” food is “accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.”

Apply this criteria to the processed convenience foods that most of us unthinkingly consume and you’ll see that Slow Food USA has got its work cut out for it. Too much of the food found on our supermarket shelves fails to meet much of Slow Food USA’s standards.

But often there are few or no alternatives. Though the number of farmers markets has risen dramatically in recent years, too many communities don’t have access to — or can’t afford — fresh, healthy produce from small sustainable farmers.

That’s only half the battle, though; our over-reliance on take-out and frozen dinners has left many folks handicapped in the kitchen, lacking the basic know-how that would allow us to throw together even a simple meal with fresh ingredients.

To raise awareness about these challenges, among others, Slow Food USA hosts a variety of programs and has established 200 chapters throughout the country. Chapters are run by volunteers and “offer educational events and activities to promote sustainability and biodiversity and connect farmers, cooks, educators, students and everyone else who cares about their food and the environment.”

That brings a lot of folks to the table, literally, and Slow Food USA is becoming an increasingly powerful force in the ‘good food’ movement. Their latest initiative, Time For Lunch, focuses on the sorry state of our National School Lunch Program, which doesn’t provide schools with sufficient funds to serve nutritious, wholesome foods.

The Time For Lunch campaign will culminate in a National Day of Action, serendipitously, on Monday, September 7th. But that’s nine Mondays away! You don’t have to wait that long if you want to help the folks at Slow Food USA realize their vision of “a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.” Find the chapter that’s nearest you, and if there aren’t any, consider starting one in your neck of the woods. After all, it’s Monday; what better day to start a new chapter?