The Slow Food movement started in Italy, but has since become a worldwide movement. Its principles are simple: to encourage people to take pride in what they cook, and pleasure in what they eat; to support local farmers and cuisines; and to encourage people to take their time at meals. Countering the negative social and nutritional effects of fast food is part of what inspired the Slow Foodies, as well as concern over the disappearance of local foods in countries (like Italy and France) where cuisine is closely associated with culture.
Although the Slow Food movement has been quite adult-focused, I think it has benefits for children too. In today’s fast-paced culture, families are spending less and less time eating together at the table. As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, extensive research has documented the benefits of eating together, from improved nutrition and weight, to better school performance.
One way to encourage ‘slow food’ family mealtimes is to make them festive. That’s why I’m happy to be celebrating Terra Madre (Mother Earth) day with our family. The international day of celebration sponsored by the Slow Food movement is meant to encourage all of us to savor eating slowly, locally, and proudly–at least for one day of the year.
This year, we’re hosting a preschooler’s potluck. A half-dozen families are coming over to our house in less than an hour. I’ve made carrot soup and fresh applesauce. A friend who goes salmon fishing once a year brought over some savory hand-smoked salmon. Squash and potatoes from the Pemberton Valley are roasting in the oven. And roasted garlic is on the menu too (it’s so sweet and buttery that I’m hoping the kids will like it too!). I can’t wait to see what our friends will bring.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Slow Food for kids. It is unrealistic to expect little kids to appreciate local foods? Or is this kind of celebration exactly what we need to be introducing even young children to?