Slow Food


Quote from
Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
January 22, 2007


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007

There is a secret bond
between slowness and memory,
between speed and forgetting.
— Milan Kundera

Does it seem like time is going by faster and faster? It's not entirely an illusion. There are many signs that we are becoming accustomed to moving at a rapid pace. Gleick has written an entire book under the title Faster, describing the Western?s world?s obsession with speed.

Jay Griffiths provides many examples in the chapter on speed in her marvelous book on time, A Sideways Look at Time. She quotes two childbirth experts in Dublin who write: "Prolonged labour, in this hospital, was defined as 36 hours in 1963, reduced to 24 hours in 1968, and, finally to 12 hours in 1972." She also cites the results of a Harvard survey on Americans Use of Time. In 1965, 25% of the people polled said they felt hurried. That percentage increased to 32% in 1985 and 38% by 1992. Griffiths notes: "The percentage of the rushed has grown, and has grown faster and faster."

In response to increasing time pressure, we've developed methods of doing things even more quickly, like preparing food in the microwave and gulping down missing nutrients in the form of multi-vitamins. In his book, The Slow Down Diet, Marc David talks about the difference between the way the French eat and the way Americans eat. The French take several hours for lunch, drink wine with their meals, eat lots of cheese and high-fat foods, eat smaller portions, insist on fresh and high-quality ingredients and have their largest meal in the middle of the day. They are more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise yet they have lower rates of heart disease and lower blood cholesterol than most Americans.

Scientists observing this phenomenon decided that the polyphenols in the wine the French drank made the difference which is when we started hearing that drinking red wine was good for you. Suddenly polyphenols became available in pill form, in case you were too rushed to drink a glass of wine. Nobody noticed the context of the French meal: the leisurely time, the savoring of the experience and the ingredients, the socializing that accompanied the meal. David contends that a relaxed eater has a better chance of digesting a meal and feeling satisfied afterwards.

He offers one amusing story about an American geologist who was supervising a three-week dig in rural France. She got frustrated because her French crew disappeared into town every day for two-and-a-half hour lunch. So she told them they needed to eat lunch on site. They cheerfully agreed and the next day, a truck pulled into the parking area at lunchtime. Out of the truck came tables, tablecloths, silverware, china, flowers, a portable kitchen and plenty of food. Then the workers sat down and enjoyed a two-hour meal, complete with wine, on site.

Italian food writer, Carlo Petrini, launched the Slow Food movement in 1986 outraged by the opening of a MacDonalds besides the Spanish Steps in Rome. This movement, which has spread across the globe, champions locally grown seasonal food, artisanal production, the preservation of traditional recipes and the enjoyment of leisurely meals shared with family and friends. Carl Honoré describes the influence of the Slow Food movement and others in his book, In Praise of Slowness, which includes chapters on the design of slow cities (where walking is encouraged), the benefits of slowing down on health, the pleasures of slow sex and suggestions for raising unhurried children.

Ralph Keyes in his book, Timelock, offers some suggestions for slowing down:

Take time outs during the day
Choose the slowest route, not the fastest: Walk instead of drive. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Grate your own cheese rather than buying grated cheese.
Distinguish between necessary haste (late for an appointment) and impatience (one-hour photo developing)
Listen to your body
Take a bath instead of a shower
What ways can you find to slow down?

David, Marc, The Slow Down Diet, Healing Arts Press 2005
Gleick, James, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, Vintage 2000
Griffiths, Jay, A Sideways Look at Time, Tarcher/Penguin 2004
Honoré, Carl, In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Harper San Francisco 2004
Keyes, Ralph, Timelock: How Life Got So Hectic and What You Can Do About It

Slow Food www.slowfood.com


Slow Life at the Paradise Hermitage


Daruma Museum, Japan


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