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  • Suresh Venkatraman

Slow Food: Eating Well for Good

By Peg Champion, Principal of Champion Organic Communications

Chef Casablanca, Katia Essyad, serves students the delicious results of her traditional Moroccan cooking class, a Slow Food South Bay spring event.

It sounds too good to be true. You can live healthier, save money, strengthen family ties, build community, support local businesses and improve the environment – all with a simple choice.

Would you be surprised to learn that the answer is … on your dinner plate?

It’s true. Research conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a study produced in March 2011 by the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute finds that by filling your plate with Slow Food, you can actually achieve all those things. But what, exactly, does Slow Food mean?

Slow Food is a philosophy, a movement and an organization. You can express its philosophy in just three words: “Good, Clean and Fair.”

  1. “Good” means that food should taste good and be nutritionally good for you.

  2. “Clean” food doesn’t harm the environment or our health. It’s grown and harvested with methods that promote biodiversity and that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems.

  3. “Fair” food is accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

Founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food movement began in resistance to the opening of a fast-food (McDonald’s) restaurant at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slow Food now has 100,000 members in 132 countries; your local Slow Food South Bay chapter is one of 800 chapters worldwide.

Here, in the South Bay, Slow Food is focused on education and celebration. Through our education efforts – films, lectures, food literature group, workshops, school gardens and tours – we share information about how our food choices affect the world and ourselves. We advocate a transformation in government food policy, practices and markets that will promote environmental sustainability, improve nutritional health and ensure social justice. And we celebrate the bounty of our beautiful Valley of Heart’s Delight (aka Silicon Valley) with community events, potlucks and tastings.

Rather than eating industrially produced food, which often contains harmful residue from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, a Slow Food diet comprises seasonal, local, sustainable food – such as grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, organic fruits and vegetables and sustainable seafood. By shopping at farmers’ markets and subscribing to CSAs (community supported agriculture organizations) instead of buying processed food from the grocery store, we support our local farmers, ranchers and fishermen and lower our food expenses and our carbon footprint.

And finally, what’s the simple ingredient for strengthening family ties and forging stronger interpersonal connections? Sharing a convivial dinner with family and friends on a regular basis. But slowly, of course.

Peg Champion is the principal of Champion Organic Communications, a strategic communications company focused on sustainability, and serves on the Board of Directors of Slow Food South Bay. Her license plate, “Locavore” displays her commitment to local, seasonable and sustainable food.

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