Slow food and comfort food
Wednesday October 25th 2006, 11:28 am

There is something about autumn and cooler temperatures that makes me think about comfort foods such as baked beans, macaroni and cheese and casseroles. I always thought that the Slow Food Movement and comfort foods were the same thing until I looked into it. The Slow Food Movement was founded to “counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world”. The movement is international and promotes local farmers, organic food and a healthier way of eating.

The Slow Food Movement is also against the genetic modification of foods and the use of pesticides. I don’t trust that either of these things are safe, even though the Canadian government has stated that they are.

There is no doubt that processed and fast food have little nutritiional value but many people either don’t realize this or don’t care. When I was working all day, I was tired by the time I got home at suppertime. I fell into the trap of either buying processed food at the grocery store or picking up take out fast food on the way home. Nutrition was the furthest thing from my mind because everyone in the family was tired and hungry. Occasionally I got more organized and would cook and freeze some dinners or plan the week’s menu in advance with better food choices. My problem is that I really don’t enjoy cooking or spending more time in the kitchen than necessary.

Now that I am retired, I am more organized because I have more time. We eat out less and I don’t buy processed food very often. I still don’t enjoy cooking the way you should if you want to be committed to the Slow Food Movement. I don’t usually buy organic fruits and vegetables because they are more expensive. I do buy free range chicken and turkey occasionally because there is quite a difference in the taste. It reminds me of how chicken and turkey used to taste when I was young. Free range turkey is a real treat for Christmas or any special occasion.

I still like the convenience of recipes which don’t take much time to prepare. During the summer we eat barbeque and this time of year I like to use my slow cooker or make one dish casseroles. I like the idea of throwing everything into one pot and forgetting about it until suppertime. Today I am making baked beans in the slow cooker for supper and the beans are organic. This is a real comfort food, which I love, but for some reason I only make it this time of year.

Organic foods are getting more popular with a certain segment of the Canadian population but because they are more expensive, the average person will continue buying cheaper food. It seems hard to believe but people would sooner pay a premium for packaged or frozen processed food than for organic food. If you go to any grocery store, look in the grocery carts and you will see what people are buying. It certainly isn’t the taste, so it must be the convenience. When I was working, a very popular lunch for my co-workers was frozen microwave pasta dinners such as Michelinas or Lean Cuisine. They were cheap, tasteless, had too many carbs and very little nutrition. I never liked them but I was in the minority at my lunch table at work.

I guess my preference is to eat nutritional, safe, inexpensive, tasty, unprocessed and sometimes organic food and don’t spend half the day in the kitchen preparing it. I don’t think I am ready to join the Slow Food Movement but their ideas should be encouraged and more people should think about the food they eat.

Anne