Why We Should Eat S.L.O.W. Food & How To Do It
The first time I heard about SLOW food was when my friend and I went to see Alice Waters (chef, restauranteur, activist, author) speak in San Francisco about 10 years ago. At first, I honestly thought she was talking about the speed of making and eating a meal!! It soon became apparent though that she was in fact talking about an acronym for Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole foods and the benefits of eating that way.
Eating SLOW food is basically eating as close as possible to what nature intended us to eat. I was fascinated and learnt a lot at and it’s something I try to incorporate as much as I can today.
There is an actual Slow Food Movement which is a global, grassroots movement that was founded in 1989 in Italy to counteract fast food and fast life. They envision a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.
They oppose the standardisation of taste and culture, and the unrestrained power of food industry multinationals and industrial agriculture. Sounds pretty good.
So let’s delve a little into Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole foods.
With supermarkets stocking fruits and vegetables all year round it’s hard to know what is actually in season. But it’s good to be aware of what is actually in season as this produce is always the freshest and therefore the most nutritious foods.
Buying local should mean that produce hasn’t had far to travel and shouldn’t have been stored for long periods of time which can result in a loss of nutrients. If produce has to travel, it may need to be treated with a variety of chemicals to extend its shelf life and to make it fresher and more appealing. If you are eating local, chances are you are eating seasonal produce.
I could (and probably will) do a full post on why it’s important to eat organic as much as possible but I’ll keep it brief here. Basically, I try to consume mostly organic produce because I know it’s more nourishing for my body and organic farming is more environmentally sustainable. I also know that organic produce contains far less chemicals and pesticides than conventionally farmed produce.
While there has been some debate recently about the nutritional difference (or lack thereof) between conventional and organic produce I still think avoiding chemical exposures as much as possible can only be a good thing. So what I’m not consuming is as important as what I am!
Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. So you are talking about vegetables, fruits, animal products and whole unprocessed grains (if you can tolerate them). The benefits of eating whole foods are that they provide more complex micronutrients and therefore greater nutrition. Eating a whole foods diet means that you don’t eat (or limit) the processed packaged foods that have more than one ingredient!
So how can we eat a little more SLOWly?
- Find out what produce is in season and eat more of those foods.
- Eat less packaged, processed foods and more whole real foods.
- Become curious about food labels (and not just for the calorie or fat content). Does the food have an ingredients list the length of your arm? Do you even know what all the ingredients are?
- Check where the produce is from. Did it have far to travel? Are there any local options you could choose instead?
- Try to source and eat more organic produce. There are more and more organic options available due to demand and the difference in price to conventional food is getting smaller and smaller.
- Find a farmers market with local sellers – this will be a great place to get to know what foods are in season as well as locally grown. Better yet, if there are local organic sellers!
- ‘Farm to you’ deliveries – if you can’t make a farmers market there are businesses that will deliver produce directly to your door.
- When eating out, maybe try places that serve food that is made from local and seasonal produce.
- Trying growing some of your own food. Even if you only have a small space (like a patio) you’d be surprised at what you can grow.
Some good resources in Ireland:
Slow Food Ireland http://slowfoodireland.com/
Grow It Yourself. Find out what’s in season and how to grow your own food http://www.giyinternational.org/pages/about_giy
Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association. Find out more about organic food, certification and see who is on their member directory http://iofga.org/
Organic Trust Ireland. More information about organic produce and certification http://organictrust.ie/info/
Find out more about how to know if produce is organic and where to source it http://www.bordbia.ie/consumer/aboutfood/organicfood/pages/organicfood.aspx
Discover any local farmers market near you http://www.bordbia.ie/consumer/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/default.aspx
The Organic Supermarket https://www.organicsupermarket.ie/ and Absolutely Organic http://www.absolutelyorganic.ie/ offer a farm to door service in the Dublin region, while Green Earth Organics http://www.greenearthorganics.ie/ and Beechlawn Farm http://www.beechlawnfarm.org/ service the west coast of Ireland and Organic Republic http://www.organicrepublic.ie/ and Devoys Organic Farm http://www.devoysorganicfarm.com/ services the Cork region.
The Happy Pear https://thehappypear.ie/ in Greystones, Wicklow is a shop, daytime café and evening restaurant selling and serving local, organic and seasonal produce. The owners have a bestselling cookbook and sell their own produce line in shops across Ireland.