Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Slow Food movement gaining ground

A movement is spreading across America in response to the state of health of the nation, what we are nourishing ourselves with and also the state of the economy. The movement is called Slow Food.  In Italy, it grew out of the idea that we need to move away from fast food and more back to the basics of simple, healthy foods grown with limited disturbances (no herbicides, pesticides, harmful animal practices, etc.), less processing and closer to the table (more locally grown).

At my Charlotte Dietetic Association meeting this month, local chefs came to talk to dietitians about Slow Food and local growers, including the health and environmental benefits.  The chefs at our meeting cooked us some amazing local pork, polenta and collards, topped with pea shoots and yellow tomato chutney…needless to say it was much better than the deli boxes we got for lunch!  You can visit www.slowfoodcharlotte.org and www.knowyourfarms.com for more information, including local farms, farmers markets and tastings.

Even for me, the Slow Food movement instills a sense of joy and longing, imagining living somewhere like the French countryside to lower life stress and improve my eating even more!  Of course, you do not really have to live in France or Italy to accept Slow Food into your life.  In fact, the current administration in Washington is advocating for more of these sorts of things in America.  Michelle Obama even started a White House vegetable garden and has been encouraging citizens to select fresh, unprocessed, locally grown foods.

Many individuals would laugh and say, “I don’t have time to do that!”  However, that is the point.  It is sad we often do not “have time” to focus on nourishing ourselves well.  In the hustle and bustle of daily life, eating either gets pushed to the wayside or takes on too much importance (such as with emotional eating) in our lives, thus leading to disordered eating and damage to our health.

So, while we all are certainly busy in our own lives, I encourage each of you to take a little time to consider the aspects of Slow Food and what it means to you.  Basically, the less junk we eat, the better.  We are truly a product of what we eat and we cannot afford to ignore that.  Determine what it means to you – maybe buying produce at farmers markets sometimes or making dinner at home instead of picking up food to-go.  And, it does not have to cost more!

Even if you choose not to afford organic foods all the time, remember that each thing you buy should serve a purpose.  And, when it comes to the foods you are buying, remember that food is intended to nourish us well, giving us the energy we need during the day and allowing us to carry on in our lives.  You can incorporate aspects of this Slow Food movement into your life in small, slow steps, knowing what you are doing is good for the earth and good for you.

I hope you will watch this segment from 60 Minutes on CBS (run time about 12 minutes) to learn more at http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4867014n.

Additionally, a recent article in the New York Times addresses the aspects of sustainable food growing, the benefits of farmers markets and individuals like Alice Waters, who are leaders in the Slow Food movement.  Read the article online at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/business/22food.html?_r=1&ref=health.

In the end, consider what is in that box or bag of food you just bought from the store or the drive through window.  Do you think the products used in its production were well treated?  Did their production treat the earth well?  And, are they laden with salt and fat to improve on taste, or are the ingredients simple so you can appreciate the natural flavors?  If you choose to bring more Slow Food into your routine, it may take some little adjustments in your life such as your buying or preparation habits.  I think, though, the end result is worth it.


http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/thestew/2009/09/slow-food-organizes-eat-ins-on-labor-day.html (Labor Day 2009 event)

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