Friday, April 24, 2009

Slow Food

We have been talking about sustainable farming and supporting local farmers lately in class and how we can make collective or individual efforts to help the movement. I found an individual effort that is now developing into a collective effort as more and more people become aware of their food purchasing options. Her name is Alice Waters and she is the mother of the Slow Food Movement. It is a movement started to fight against fast food and promotes sustainable foods. Waters started this movement in San Francisco with her own restaurant that only buys food from local farmers, fishermen and ranchers. It has caught hold and is becoming more and more popular.

There is more than one way to participate, including starting your own garden, splitting a home cooked meal with someone and supporting CSAs. We talked about all of these things in class on Tuesday when we made lists of what we envisioned for the food system. Michael Pollan said that, “Slow Food aims to elevate the quality over quantity and believes that doing so depends on cultivating our sense of taste as well as rebuilding the relationships between producers and consumers that the industrialization of our food has destroyed.” We have definitely lost the appreciation for quality over the years and have just taken advantage of the food system. Waters began to enjoy food when she went to France and that is when she realized she wanted to be a chef. We talked about France in class and how some countries really appreciate food and what they are eating. They eat and take in what they are eating; they really taste the flavor. We, on the other hand, have come to forget about the local farmers and their delicious produce and instead have headed to the grocery store to buy our corn and tomatoes. Maybe we should change our state of being from omnivores to locavores, which are those who buy from local farmers only.

Alice Waters wants to see people enjoying and appreciating what they are eating. She believes that “good food should be a right, not a privilege.” This is how we end up finding locally grown food – more expensive. But if you want to make a difference, should you have to sacrifice a little bit? Is it considered a luxury to be able to get locally grown food? Where I am from, it is not a luxury; it is just something you do – drive around from farm to farm until you find the best looking corn.

Waters took the next step and started the Slow Food Nation in 2008, which was a gathering of 85,000 people to celebrate and learn about sustainability and organic food. There was a vegetable garden planted in front of city hall which was done to encourage people to plant their own gardens. She is pushing for a vegetable garden at the White House. Waters has not only influenced the President, but she has also reached out to the next generation. She got a middle school in California to introduce classes that teach children how to farm and start their own gardens and also how to cook what they have grown. Should this be introduced all around the country? I think yes. People used to grow up knowing and learning how to cook. Now, it is shocking how many people have no idea how to prepare a meal.

I have a family friend who started his own farm on Shelter Island which is in Long Island. It was an old plantation farm that was passed on through his family and now he finally has it and he is starting over and growing his own food. He is finding great support from the local area. He also studies the influence of work songs out in the fields and has incorporated that back into his farm. His plan is to have food year-round for his customers. He asks an important question about starting gardens and farms, which might help some to begin their own. “What better way is there to preserve the land and put it to use than interfacing with the earth and growing delicious food?”

The more people Alice Waters and others like her influence, the more support we will see for local farmers, and hopefully an increase in small farms. To top it all off, we will look forward to less travel time for food which will in turn decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s start a Locavore Revolution!
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Penguin Book, England. 2006.

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