Like most revolutions, the Slow Food movement came about as a response to a need that had been simmering away in society for some time.
Since the Industrial Revolution commoditised both food and time itself, fast food and the litany of social and health issues it brings with it was almost inevitable conclusion. When you build a society on the principle that faster, cheaper and more is better, you pretty much pave the way for the pre-packaged, edible embodiments of said principle.
And so the Slow Food movement was born.
The antithesis of fast food
It began in Italy – and where better for a slow food movement to germinate than in the country where lunches that stretch over three hours and end with a nap are the norm? The year was 1986 and the founders were Carlo Petrini and a group of activists who opposed the building of a McDonald’s franchise right next to Rome’s ancient Spanish Steps.
According to the movement’s official website, Slow Food started ‘with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life’ and quickly grew.
‘In over two decades of history, the movement has evolved to embrace a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture. Today Slow Food represents a global movement involving thousands of projects and millions of people in over 160 countries.’
Slow food in practice
Supporting the concept of Slow Food locally could mean ordering your meat from a local, sustainable butcher – or better yet, direct from a farm. It entails using as much of the animal as possible so as to reduce waste – things like organs or tongues or cheaper cuts of meat (whack them in a slow cooker to make the most of them and you’ll get double the Slow Food cred). It’s growing your own veggies, or hanging out in cafes and restaurants that grow their own.
Sarah Wilson, popular health and lifestyle blogger and huge Slow Food advocate sums it up beautifully here:
‘It’s the opposite of fast food, on every front. So, it’s about preparing food mindfully and from scratch, using whole food and food that’s been produced ethically with awareness of obvious things such as carbon miles. It’s also about eating mindfully – with family, seated, as a meal and slowly.’
In many ways, craft beer fits in the broader philosophy behind the Slow Food movement. As exemplified by the James Squire craft beer range, it’s about putting time and effort into a quality product that’s meant to be savoured, not thrown back and almost instantly forgotten. Similarly, craft beer is also about putting passion, ethics and consciousness into what you do and make.
More specifically, craft breweries like the Malt Shovel Brewery (home to the James Squire craft beer range) are becoming increasingly sustainable and also utilise fresh, farm-grown products – as evidenced by the close relationship with hop farmers.
In fact, Tim Lord, Managing Director of Hop Products Australia (HPA) credits craft beer with ‘saving the Australian hops industry’. Which is about as cool, groovy and ‘Slow’ as you can get!
Five Slow steps
If you want to do your part to climb calmly and sedately on board with the Slow Food movement, here are five simple steps you can take:
1. Cook – at home and for friends and in advance, so you’re not tempted to grab something on the fly.
2. Shop – locally and ethically. Choose your groceries not on price or convenience, but on how they fit with the overall ethos of trying to buy sustainable foods. Look for fruit and vegetables that are in season.
3. Support – businesses and people in the community who are throwing their weight behind the Slow Food movement.
4. Be conscious – think about what you’re eating and how you’re eating it. Think about where it came from, how much you’re consuming and why you’re consuming it.
5. Enjoy – take food back to the art form that it once was. Enjoy food that, like craft beer, has been lovingly prepared, with the emphasis on quality and individuality, not speed or homogeneity. Enjoy it with friends, and share your thoughts over long lazy dinners, surrounded by people you love. Explore the flavour and aroma possibilities of the food and the craft beer to match it with. From porter to pilsener, amber ale to golden, the James Squire craft beer range can be the perfect accompaniment.
Now that’s a happy meal.