Alicia Anderson: Publisher and Editor of The Lost Arts Society Magazine Online

In 1986, a group of chefs and local farmers in Bra, Italy became concerned about the loss of the traditional and cultural cooking and the disappearing small farms and the unique biodiversity they provided to communities. An Italian journalist and food activist named Carlo Petrini shined a light on these issues and from this, the Slow Food Movement was born.

What is slow food? Obviously, its’ not fast food. It is not something you can get from a drive through window and eat while driving. It is more than just food that takes time to prepare. The Slow Food Movement takes a combination of chefs in a community being mindful of where their ingredients come from. Chefs partnering with local farmers to shape their menus. 

The Slow food movement is home cooks shopping at local farmers markets and bravely foraging into new worlds of never experienced heirloom tomatoes and exotic sounding though actually indigenous greens like dandelion greens, collard greens and kale. Home cooks are taking terms like defrost and microwave and replacing them with words like braise, simmer, and crockpot.

When I think of my happiest memories of time spent in the kitchen; I go back to my early childhood. The pre-mealtime experience was mult-generational. Mom would be adding diced tomatoes, onions bell peppers to a big bowl of ground meat for her famous meatloaf. My grandmother would be perched on a stool over the big table in the middle of the kitchen (years before fancy “islands”) and peeling apples for a cobbler.  

The third generation would be my sisters and myself. We were each assigned duties based upon our skills and age. My oldest sister would be trusted with knives and boiling pot duties. My middle sister could put pats of butter on biscuits and snap beans while as the youngest I shucked corn. We would talk about our days, our friends and often break into groups song to the small kitchen radio.

This communal experience was lost as new generations hit the job market, moved out of the house and often out of their towns to other larger cities, other states, and even other countries. Grandma retired to a condo in Florida. Moms evolved to using quick mix dinners that could be eaten in from of the TV. 

However, in the last year America has been hit by a double whammy of a deep recession and a world-wide pandemic. As businesses close and unemployment spikes to record numbers, financially strapped kids and grandkids are moving back home. We suddenly have three generations in the same home. Cooking videos on the internet are exploding and everyone seems to want to make sourdough bread. 

Whether the blending of generations in a home will lead to everyone cooking and eating together is still to be seen, but the timing is right for a new Slow Food Movement. A movement that is not just about the food, biodiversity and buy local movements. The new Slow Food Movement has an opportunity to change our culture. Family recipes as wells as memories and stories will be passed down again. 

Like John Lennon sang once “You may say I’m a dreamer”, but my best dreams are set in my childhood kitchen. 

(Want to learn more about the Slow Food Movement? A great source is http://www.slowfoodusa.org/)

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