Slow food

Slowing down is not something I usually associate with this time of year. In fact, it feels like an all-out race to the end of the year right about now: to get things done, to go to stuff, to bake and make stuff, find gifts and, oh yeah, work.

So Terra Madre Day and No Fast Food Day—both of which were last Friday—come at a good time.  Terra Madre Day is an annual event intended to celebrate local and indigenous producers, part of Slow Food’s international movement to connect people with those who produce our food as well as the food itself. No Fast Food Day is, well, self-explanatory.

For me, they’re both a reminder that especially when it comes to food, everything goes down more smoothly when you take it slow.

Of course, convincing kids of this—especially at lunch—is not easy. At most schools around here, lunch is a mad dash to recess. My own children often come home with their food uneaten because, they tell me, there wasn’t enough time to eat. While this is no doubt part of the problem, it’s not just because they are being rushed out of the lunchroom, it’s because they desperately want to join their friends in the playground more than they want to eat their green beans (today’s rejects).

At some schools, the so-called “balanced day” timetable helps with this problem of wastage and frenetic gobbling because instead of one long lunch hour, they have two long “nutritional breaks” (see my post on the subject here)—more time for both playing and eating.

There’s also the Reverse Lunch Hour, an alternative that some schools in British Columbia and elsewhere are trying. What it means in practical terms is kids play first and eat later. It’s been such a success that schools elsewhere are adopting it   (see this article from The Alberta Teacher’s Association for more on its success). What I like about it most is how simple it is—it doesn’t require any huge changes from parents, administrators or teachers, just a minor timetable flip—and according to those who’ve tried it, it makes a big difference. Instead of shovelling back their food, everyone can take a deep breath and  just slow down.

[Photograph by Andrea Curtis; baking by Lisa]

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