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?
2 thoughts on “Slow food is for kids too! Celebrating Terra Madre Day with a preschooler's potluck”
Hi Kate! Great question; sorry if my post wasn’t clear. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that parents don’t seek out local foods. We do! And our kids love them.
Rather, my comment stemmed from the reaction of some of the parents we invited to the potluck. Their kids don’t eat many vegetables (some don’t like any vegetables at all). So these parents weren’t so enthusiastic about a ‘local foods’ potluck, because they didn’t think that telling kids that the veggies were ‘local’ was going to change their minds! In other words, adults understand why ‘local’ foods are so great, but it is a harder sell with kids (according to some). So these parents brought their kid’s preferred foods (not local) to the potluck to feed them instead.
Also, the Slow Food chapter here used to work on kid’s food issues, but has since drifted away from it. And while Slow Food USA has an active school lunch reform campaign focused on kids, Slow Food Canada doesn’t have an equivalent. So my comment was also a reflection on the fact that kid’s issues aren’t getting as much attention in the Slow Food movement where I live. I’m genuinely wondering why this is the case. Some of the parents I talked to thought that it was unrealistic to get kids to eat foods just because they are local. I politely disagree! But I would really love to hear what other people think.
I’m a little confused about this post. Are you saying that parents don’t seek out local foods to feed their children, in your remark about “Is it unrealistic to expect little kids to appreciate local foods?” Is there some sort of research behind that comment?
I live in a state that has quite a bit of agriculture in it, and can easily find local sources for meat, dairy and eggs. Most people I know eat foods like locally grown sweet corn or melons when in season.
Obviously though as winter is starting I’ll still celebrate the fact that modern life allows me to enjoy things like clementines, something not grown where I live.