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Making Slow Food Fast

Food is our fuel.  Poor fuel causes problems and so called ‘fast food’ is not the best fuel you can feed your body.

Slow Food
Slow Food

The saying ‘You are what you eat’ may be something of a cliché, but there is a lot of truth in it.  Eating well has lots of benefits, and an organisation of Italian origin, Slow Food, is working to encourage everyone to pay more attention to the food they eat.  But is slow food too slow?

Fast Food equals Fattening Food

I like fast food, and I do go to MacDonald’s from time to time.  However eating fast food too often is not a great idea and is just not healthy.  Whatever the fast food companies may claim, they are aiming for profits, and this means that they want everything to be as cheap as possible, which means quality often suffers.  Fast food, more often than not, is synonymous with fried and therefore fattening food.

Indeed, the Slow Food organisation knows this.  Just take a look at their manifesto.  The organisation works to highlight that not only is good food tasty and healthy, it is part of our culture, and food production is strongly linked to the health of the planet.  I was very pleased to learn that this organisation was set up in Italy as a reaction to the fast food invasion which was taking place in the country.  It seemed right, after all Italians have been eating fast slow food for years, and many are all the slimmer for it.

Environmentally friendly food production methods benefit both consumers and keep our environment healthy too.

Now things will fast become a little contradictory as I begin outlining my heretical proposition: which is to make slow food faster!

Slow Food is Too Slow

Italian founding member of Slow Food, Folco Portinari, certainly supports a cause which is good, only the big problem with slow food is that for many it is just not convenient.

As the Slow Food organisation knows all too well, our lives are one huge rush, everything is ruled by deadlines.  This means that cooking, which is not easy to do well for many, has very much been placed on the back burner.  For the most part, we eat because we have to and will throw just about anything into our bodies in the vain hope that it will provide us with enough sustenance to meet our next deadline.

Still, if the Slow Food organisation can come up with a way of making good quality food fast, then it will change our lives.  Can this be done?  Well, yes, but a lot of brainpower needs to be applied.  After all, traditional cooking can be a slow process, and sloth is perceived in this modern hyperactive world as being our number one enemy.  Sloth is for old people with time on their hands.  Hence the huge popularity of fast food outlets the world over.

Fast Slow Food Restaurants

Yet fast slow food outlets are possible.  I know, I ate in one in central Milan not so long ago.  And the price was comparable to good old Mac Ds.  The portions were a little on the mean side, which was a shame, but the food was good and tasty.

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I’ve never really found burger and chip based fast food that satisfying anyway.  Not sure why I eat it.  It could be the novelty or just the effective marketing which creates an erroneous perception.  Oh, sometimes a Mac attack does hit me, but not that often, and I certainly could not live off the stuff as it generally leaves me with an uncomfortably  swollen stomach which appears to be whispering ‘What did you just do to me?’.

Quick Slow Food

What the Slow Food network needs to do is to come up with recipes which can be cooked up under 30 minutes or so.  Tasty healthy recipes which have kids crying out for more.  Recipes which simply reduce the appeal of the rather sad and floppy items served by many fast food restaurants.

Sounds like a great challenge to me.  Actually, cooking up Italian dishes is not all that slow to do, especially if you think about pasta and rice based dishes.

Fast America equals fat America

Sadly the benefits of slow foods have come rather too late for many Americans who have slid well and truly down the true fast food slope and taken the way of fatness, so to speak.  Many Italians have commented to me that any Americans seem to be very fat after returning from a trip to the States.  This is worrying.  The British are not too far behind, and alas, judging by the chubby kids I often see in Italy, things are declining here too.

Education in the ways of good taste is needed, and the Slow Food organisation is trying to achieve this by means of taste workshops and by training teachers in the ways of good food.  Despite all this good work, if you asked your average school kid what slow food was, you probably end up with a response like ‘snails’.

Slow Food Evangelist Jamie Oliver

Yes, there is a long, long way to go, but at least someone has started heading in the right direction.  Well known British chef and food expert and Italian food evangelist Jamie Oliver is a proponent of slow food and has been attempting to raise the standards of cooking in British schools.

Go Slow in Turin

Salone del Gusto 2008
Slow Food Show Turin

Should you wish to know more about the Slow Food movement, and you find yourself in Turin this October, then be sure to pop into the Salone Internazionale Del Gusto.  Click on the image to find out more.

As for the Slow Food movement, I shall be writing more about it, and attempting to keep you up to date with Slow Food events in Italy.

If you have not done so already, go visit the Slow Food site – which is in English, and spread the word!

PS The Slow Food site linked to here is taking a long time to load at the moment.  Not sure why!  I’m sure normal service will be resumed shortly, otherwise try the Slow Food USA site.

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