I was first introduced to the idea of slow living when I read about the slow food movement. In several of my favorite magazines, I saw photos of large groups enjoying meals out in the fields, eating cuisines taken only from local growers, ranchers, farmers. Even the photographs were beautiful…the long tables of people enjoying food together out in nature. I wanted to join in! I was already on my way, because after two pregnancies with gestational diabetes, I had cut out most white flours from our diet, which also means I had cut out most processed foods. Then, when Tyler was diagnosed with nut allergies I cut back even more and began cooking from scratch most of the time. (It’s very hard finding store-bought food that is whole grain and completely nut free!) Although it takes more time to cook from scratch, I really enjoy the process and the result. I was beginning my own slow food journey in my own way.
I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and was even more convinced of the importance of eating locally and more healthfully. We joined a CSA and began buying all of our produce at the farmer’s market, and learned that local produce really does taste better! Even Greg, who, let’s just say, hasn’t had much experience with eating vegetables, found the farmer’s market produce to be superior to the supermarket kind. Some studies even show that organic produce is better for you. And although there is not conclusive evidence about the dangers of pesticide use, when I read that farm workers who spray the pesticides have a cancer rate 65% higher than other people, I was happy to buy pesticide free for our family. It does cost more to buy organic, but when I buy at the peak of the growing season, I can get some great deals! And compared to the rest of the world, Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food. Why? I love bargain hunting when I shop, but not if it’s controlling the kinds of foods our bodies live on. I’m learning to pay a little more for food and cut back in other areas. I’m trying to remember that our health is more important than the little things I might sacrifice in other areas of life.
Slow Food Goals for 2010:
- cut factory farmed meats out of our home diet completely. It’s taken a lot of research, but I’ve found a local rancher who sells free range grass-fed beef, and even Trader Joe’s carries grass-fed ground beef now! So with beef taken care of, I need to move on to finding pork that’s responsibly raised. I miss my pork chops!
- research where my other meats are slaughtered. The grass-fed beef I buy is slaughtered in a tiny family owned slaughterhouse, unlike most meat from the market. Just in the last year I’ve heard about the kind of animal abuse that goes on regularly in slaughterhouses and I’m trying to only buy meat when I’ve researched which slaughterhouse it comes from. This seems to be a very hard process, but I know there’s got to be information out there somewhere to help meat eaters who don’t want to support cruelty to animals. We do not want to become vegetarians, but we’re sure eating a lot more fish, pasta, and tofu these days!
- eat less sugar! This is the hardest one for me. I love baking. I especially love fruit crisps. It’s making my mouth water right now just thinking about it. I’d better move on.
- cook an elaborate meal with friends and family once a month. We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. My sister and I both married, let’s say, “picky” eaters. Once a month we plan to have a big dinner where each family makes a gourmet dish and we all enjoy it together. We have the first four on the calendar already. I can’t wait!
- get back into the habit of serving a vegetable with every meal. This one’s tough because it takes some time to prepare vegetables nicely and I’m usually in a hurry when it comes to dinner prep. I now have two vegetarian cookbooks to help me with ideas for tasty vegetables.
- get back to having fruits or vegetables for snacks. I’m pretty good about doing this with the boys, but I’m much less principled when it comes to my own snacking! Tsk tsk.
I love how the beginning of the year gives you a fresh start. It feels like the sins of the past year are far behind and we’re starting over. Here’s to a healthy 2010!