Monday, February 1, 2010

Slow Food

Yesterday, in a bit of stealth political work, I dragged one of my children and a girlfriend to the Annual Meeting of Slow Food Chicago. I had heard about the slow food movement years ago, and have been a practitioner (without being a zealot) for as long as we have owned land in Michigan. Once you have eaten produce lovingly harvested by your neighbor, the farmer, there is no going back. I have this philosophy that says that breaking bread is the fundamental act of civilization, and though,in practicality, I fall short of my ideals, I remain committed to mealtime as a sacred moment. In our house, slow food might be genetic--I have at least one child who was born a Slow Food devotee---even as a baby, this one did not eat, she dined.
I have been slipping Slow Food concepts into my programs (a practice which often makes me the laughing stock of my staff) for the last two years. But when you are prosyletizing to the unconverted, one must be subtle and kind. And hauling my compatriots to an hour long power point presentation was underlined by the heart of the movement, Food, which is always the way to make a convert. The Food. Artisanal cheeses that were Happiness on your tastebuds. And honey that was sunshine and summer on the tongue. Jasmine tea that warmed my soul. Slow food might be a part of my spiritual and religious identity--we are, truly, what we eat, and when what you eat is so unbelieveably beautiful, it makes you have faith in higher powers. I have come to want to "infect" the public education system with Slow Food. I think if kids sat together and dined, it would forge a community spirit like nothing else. Can growing and eating food be educational? I was reading some student reflections on a local garden and it makes me think that there may be no more authentic lesson plan than to grow and consume your own food. In incorporates literacy, math, science, social studies, and something so lacking in the world of youth today: connectedness.
So today, for me, choose something beautiful and delicious for a meal. Eat it slowly and mindfully. And find pleasure in this most basic act.

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