This week, we're talking about food, but not just any food. We’re taking a look at real food, what it is, and why it’s important and how you can bring more of it into your life.
What is slow food to you? Does that mean a home cooked meal? Hand grown veggies? A leisurely meal enjoyed alone or shared with loved ones?
To us, slow food is all of the above. But first and foremost, slow food is real food, as close to its original form and source as possible, and prepared with care, intention and gratitude.
Real food hasn’t been through any kind of factory processing, packaged in cardboard or plastic, preserved or flavored with unpronounceable chemicals, or traveled long distances.
Real food is simple, fresh and seasonal.
This week, we challenge ourselves to commit to at least one real food meal. Here are some steps to take you to that experience. As part of this slow living challenge, allow yourself plenty of time to plan, shop and prepare this meal. We would love to hear from you about your slow food week! Share your experiences, questions, tips and recipes with the Lady Farmer community on Instagram and tag us at @weareladyfarmer.
Be sure to tag us for a chance to win this week’s challenge prize: a recipe book!
- Plan 1+ meals using seasonal and/or local ingredients. Seasonal foods vary by region, so look up what your local farms are growing to see what is in season. Find foods that are locally sourced, from independent fisheries, local farm delivery boxes, and nearby farm markets. Many supermarkets have a section from their local farmers you can shop from. Try to avoid buying any new ingredients that come in a bag, box or carton this month. Look at the labels and avoid additives or preservatives. The fewer ingredients, the better.
- Research nearby food sources. As part of your meal preparation, research your local food sources outside of regional supermarkets. Local chambers of commerce may list farmers markets and nearby health markets open to the public. Look up farms, fisheries, cheese makers, apiaries, and bakers in your state you could source seasonal goods from. Maybe there’s a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program you can join in your neighborhood. Try to incorporate these alternative, sustainable food sources into your monthly meal planning this season.
- Set aside time to prepare these meals. Try to cut out distractions, and take your time working through the recipe. Avoid the tendency to multi-task and enjoy the process of making something to nourish yourself and perhaps others. Consider where each ingredient came from. Appreciate the rain, sun and soil that allowed it to grow, the hands that tended it, the effort that made it possible for you to have it. Notice colors, textures, sounds and smells as you work. We promise - the food will taste better.
- Eat with intention. Whether you are enjoying this meal by yourself or with others, try eating it with your full attention. As you take a bite of something, let it linger in your mouth as you feel its texture, experience its taste and smell. Think about and appreciate all of the systems of your body that will transform this food into fuel, so that you can be nourished and live. Write about your experience if you wish.
- Enjoy the benefits of this real food meal. What observations do you have about the experience? Did you feel less rushed in preparing for it? Did it taste better? Did you share it with others? See how many times you can expand this practice to more meals this week, and moving forward! Keep an eye on your gut health over the next few weeks as you eat more sustainably
- Weigh your trash. Take note of your weekly trash excess before changing your meal prep process. This will be your base line. After a few weeks of buying more locally, weigh your trash again. Buying from local sources cuts down on packaging waste with less plastic bags, cardboard boxes, and cans.
Listen to our guests on The Good Dirt podcast discuss many aspects of real food in history, culture and its importance to our health.
So what do we mean by slow food and real food?
Slow food starts with real food. It hasn’t been through any kind of factory processing, packaged in cardboard or plastic, preserved or flavored with unpronounceable chemicals, or traveled long distances. Real food is simple, fresh and seasonal. Ideally, it’s one ingredient (or less than five) and you know where it came from and how it was grown, raised or produced. The fewer stops between the soil that supported it and your plate, the better.
With all of the demands of our modern lifestyle, and the countless food choices we have today that offer speed and convenience, it’s so easy for us to get away from eating simple, nutrient dense foods.
“For my breakfast this morning, I had plain, whole milk yogurt sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cinnamon and honey. It took a while to separate the luscious seeds from their tight little clumps inside the fruit, and as I was doing so I thought about how the cows had grazed the hillsides to produce the grass-fed milk and how millions of tiny bacteria had spent their lives culturing it into yogurt. Then there was a tree that grew for years and years before growing these delicious walnuts, and there were the bees that traveled so many miles and visited so many thousands of flowers to create this perfect little bit of sweetness for me, this morning, and I thought about food and the time it takes and how we often try so hard to get around that.”
Join Mary, Emma, and the Lady Farmer community inside The ALMANAC this month to participate in group forums, weekly meet-ups, and advanced resources to take The Slow Living Challenge to the next level.