Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Slow Food in the Fast Lane

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Slow Food in the Fast Lane

The Slow Food movement has connected us with local foods and their producers. The slow philosophy emphasizes food quality and environmental consciousness.

The Slow Food movement has connected us with local foods and their producers. The slow philosophy emphasizes food quality and environmental consciousness.

According to a 2009 National Farmers’ Market Impact Study, 92 percent of Canadian shoppers think that buying directly from a local farmer is important. Connecting our beliefs with our habits can be a challenge in our busy lives. But hectic days do not have to spoil our slow food appetites.

These quick fixes can ease the way to slow food enjoyment.

Go simple

Shop for local, organic foods that are quick to prepare. “Feast when it’s appropriate, but simple meals are often best in everyday life,” says Lisa McIntosh, busy mom and co-owner of Urban Harvest, an organic food delivery service in Kelowna, BC. McIntosh’s family dines on what’s local and in season whenever possible.

“We tend to eat salads and baby root veggies in the spring and summer, steamed greens and squash in the fall, root veggies and winter veggie slaws in the winter,” says McIntosh.

Take pleasure from your foods in their purest forms: raw or lightly steamed and lightly seasoned.

Think ahead

Create a flexible grocery list that leaves room for the seasonal surprises that you might discover at the farmers’ market, health store, or local food co-operative. Plan a week’s worth of simple meals, including a few one-pot dishes. Make enough so that leftovers can become lunch for the next day.

Think even further ahead and consider canning and freezing foods. “Roll up your sleeves and tackle that bushel of tomatoes in September, or those flats of berries from the market in summer,” says Jim Loat, corporate chef and a chapter leader of Slow Food Canada. “Ultimately, it’s cheaper, tastier, and better for you, the environment, and the community,” he says. A little effort in the summer sets up months of slow food enjoyment.

Get help

Partner up with a friend or loved one to lighten the labour of meal preparation. Kids make great sous-chefs and they are usually eager to help in the kitchen. “Make slow food a part of your social life,” says McIntosh. Join or create a potluck dinner club that celebrates local food.


On those busiest of days, Loat suggests that we take advantage of shops and services that prepare healthy local foods. “They’re everywhere and need our support to continue,” he says. Is there a cheesemaker down the road? Perhaps there is a meal preparation service in town that uses local foods. What artisanal food shops exist in your city or town?

Order in

No time to shop? Have your local whole foods delivered to your doorstep. Delivery services are available in towns and cities across Canada and can be found through a simple Internet search. McIntosh says that her customers “appreciate being able to learn about the local farms that supply their food … as they are placing their orders. It helps them feel connected to their food sources.”

Most services list food items on their website where customers browse, click, and order.

Dine out

Take a night off and relax in a restaurant that showcases local foods. The Borealis Grille in Guelph, Ontario, offers guests an eco-conscious dining experience while flaunting the foods of the area, such as Red Fife wheat, local greens, and local cheeses and meats.

“In summer,” says Loat, “Borealis also uses Backyard Bounty, a great program that uses local backyards to grow all sorts of things.”

Ultimately, eating should be pleasurable. McIntosh sums it up in a wonderfully simple but profound statement: “Eating slow should be a joyful act.” Making simple efforts toward our slow food tastes can bring us one step closer to a slower, more joyful life.

Simple ways to slow down and savour food

5 simple steps:

1. Pause
Take a moment to appreciate what’s on your plate before you eat it.

2. Breathe
Slow down hurried eating by remembering to take a breath after you swallow.

3. Chew
Chewing slowly helps you appreciate flavours and encourages proper digestion.

4. Sit
Eat at the table—not standing up, in front of the television, in the car, or on the run.

5. Set the mood
Turn off the television. Ignore the phone. Light a candle and celebrate the simple pleasures.

Slow food for cold weather

Winter farmers’ markets generally offer all the market classics, including meats and cheeses, bread and baked goods, herbs, and honey. Depending on the location, seafood and some fruits (such as apples and pears) may also be offered. Homemade preserves of all kinds are also widely available in the winter months.

Winter vegetable selection differs from its summer counterparts but is just as healthy and delicious. Be sure to watch for winter veggie staples including root vegetables (such as potatoes, turnips, and parsnip), squash, mushrooms, onions, and dark leafy greens (such as kale and cabbage). These veggies work wonders in soups and stews, as well as in comfort foods such as casseroles and shepherd’s pies.

Winter farmers’ markets

Winter markets offer farm-fresh food in even the darkest and dreariest of winter days.

Some Canadian winter farmers’ markets include:

  • Victoria Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market, victoriapublicmarket.com
  • Vancouver Farmers Markets, eatlocal.org
  • Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, saskatoonfarmersmarket.com
  • St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, stlawrencemarket.com
  • Marché du Vieux-Port in Québec, marchevieuxport.com
  • Fredericton Boyce Farmers’ Market, frederictonfarmersmarket.ca
  • Halifax Seaport Market, halifaxfarmersmarket.com

If you’re not near one of these locations, check to see if your summer market continues in the winter, or search for a winter market near you at farmersmarketscanada.ca.

Slow food sources

Try these!

  • farmers’ markets
  • local food co-operatives
  • health food stores
  • delivery services
  • local artisan food shops

Local links

  • Slow Food Canada: slowfood.ca
  • Canadian Organic Growers: cog.ca
  • Canadian Co-operative Association: coopscanada.coop
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