Friday, October 30, 2009

Slow Food and Slow Eating

I recently had dinner at Recipe Restaurant on the Upper West side of Manhattan. This restaurant uses local ingredients and is part of the "Slow Food" movement. We all know what fast food is, but have you heard about “slow food”? According to “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

The Slow Food Movement embodies three basic principles. First, food should be good in the sense that it be from healthy plants and animals and taste delicious. Good food builds community and celebrates regional diversity. Secondly, food should be clean-- nutritious for humans and grown in ways that respect the environment. Finally, food should be fair—available to everyone and produced by workers who are treated fairly

There is much wisdom to be gleaned from Slow Food. For, one of the ways that food can feed our souls is to simply slow down our consumption of it.

There is a vast difference between dining and eating. When we dine, we pay attention to all aspects of a meal. We are conscious of the aesthetics of space we are in, how the table is set, the presentation of the food. Manners govern our dining behavior as we wait for the hosts to start eating before we begin. When dining, we make an effort to converse with those who are at table with us. Because we’re engaged in conversation, we eat more slowly and gratefully.

In many ways, what I’ve just described is eating with mindfulness. When we eat mindfully, we eat more slowly as we savor each bite. We are attentive to the aromas, the color and texture of the food and, of course, the taste. We pause between each bite and reflect upon its flavor.

When eating mindfully, we are also eating gratefully. A table grace is a wonderful way to begin a meal. To give thanks to the Source of all food and life seems appropriate. When eating in restaurants, a silent grace will help center you and make the meal a more soulful experience. This gratitude also includes those who grew the food, packaged it and prepared it.

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