Many of us have a desire to create a healthier world, and the Slow Food movement is a collection of meaningful steps towards that goal.

Once, not so long ago in our cultural history, folks gathered around the table—eating not from the realm of processed this-or-that, or prepackaged for convenience. No, the purpose of gathering used to be to have a window of reflection upon flavors, family, and tradition.

Through a nourishing meal, food became a way to experience connection with loved ones, the community, and the land it sustains. At one time, the connection between the meals we shared, and the fields they came from, could be traced in bright visible lines. That connection has weakened over generations—its survival is due to freethinking folks and farmers who are dedicated to providing the world with quality, delicious vittles without compromise.

This stubbornness has manifested into a movement you may recognize: Slow Food.

Initially, the Slow Food movement was born out of frustration by Italian journalist Carlo Petrini, who so loathed the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome’s historic Piazza di Spagna, that he started a movement with a most polar opposite idea: Slow Food instead of Fast Food.

Petrini created an organization seeking a return to healthy food choices. His wish for Slow Food was to help consumers become aware of the alternatives to ecologically damaging consumption. Slow Food promotes small growers, celebrates the preservation of flavor, and ultimately works to help consumers
rediscover the pleasures of home cooking.

At the core of the Slow Food movement is knowledge sharing, building connections, and practicing and celebrating tradition(s). Perhaps in your search for ingredients for an old family recipe, you might befriend a local farmer—and later, while sharing a delicious meal with family or friends, you may begin to sense your part in the local food chain. With every delicious bite, the connection, and our responsibility, to the land becomes clear.

Finding that tie from field to the table can take many paths, but in the Slow Food philosophy, the best way to connect is to become a “grower.” This can mean something as simple as growing tomatoes on the porch—it’s the effort to be more self-sufficient and to find that personal thread binding you to the land that’s important. If you can’t grow? Slow Food encourages you to support those who do.

This season, when you browse the stalls of the local farmers markets, you may notice that many young farmers have begun to appear—bearing baskets of food lovingly raised for you to enjoy. If you ask them why they’ve chosen to produce food, their answers will vary, but the motivation is  shared: the well-being of their communities.

Within our desire to create a healthier world, the Slow Food movement is a collection of meaningful steps to reach that goal. It’s time to pause and search for diverse, sustainable, and beneficial ways of living.

With the spring upon us, and markets and farms waiting for us, our options to savor life are not only limitless, but delicious.

— Ana comes from a family of Jefferson County farmers. She’s a graphic artist, writer, and certified Shepherdstownian.

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