Saturday, December 27, 2008

Slow Food, Slow LIVING?

I've followed with interest the emerging Slow Food movement...a hint of sanity in the desertification of American Foodways, and increasing wasteland of nutrition-free fast foods, junk foods, snack foods, etc.

And of course you've heard me rant about the myth of "simple living". Of course, it's hard to really know WHAT to call it. But "everyone" (at least everyone of a certain mindset) knows exactly what I mean if I say "simple living", and those who have tried it, like me, will give an ironic chuckle or roll their eyes.

Today I had an insight: Perhaps what we are really seeking is a more holistic extension of "slow food"--in other words, "slow living".

The Slow Food idea is to start at the beginning, whatever you determine the beginning to be--somewhere before the grocery store, at any rate. Either growing it yourself or getting it directly from the person who grew it. Then preparing it yourself. To skip the "quick and easys" and the "pre-cooked" and the "instant", and recall the way of "doing" food that was really the only option less than 100 years ago.

Slow Living, then, would be to not only grow your food, but also to knit your socks, sew your clothes, provide your own transportation with your feet or a bicycle, use snail mail to keep in touch with friends, mow your grass with an unmotorized reel mower, make your own music or attend live performances, etc. And beyond that, to do so in an unhurried fashion. To skip the stress of wanting to acheive too much in too little time. To forego trying to be in too many places at once.

Obviously this is not something I have managed to put together in any cohesive fashion, or I wouldn't be blogging at 1 a.m. with a host of undone housework, bookwork, value added production, fall planting, etc. lurking in the background. But at least I've learned a lot of the skills. I have a puzzle picture, and now I have most of the pieces, I just need to figure out how to put them together to make the picture. I'm confident I'll get there in my own slow time. That's one of the important puzzle pieces, I think: learning to be content with slow progress.

As I listen to the radio now and then, gleaning glimpses of the economy beyond my own property lines, I find I am not too worried. I think I HAVE done well at planning a way of life and a business that will weather economic storms better than average, and perhaps even thrive. And I think that others may come to appreciate my approach more, through their own struggles. I already see a definite trend in people wanting to learn the "slow living" skills I have, in pursuit of their own dreams of a "slow life".

This Sunday will be a special "Slow Food/Slow Living" event at Pinwheel Farm, a private banquet of a dizzying array of farm-grown and locally-grown foods prepared by and for my key 2008 apprentices and volunteers. In addition to learning how to grow food, they've developed related skills they probably never imagined, like hitching a trailer, basic building skills, managing water systems in cold weather, knot tying, etc. They've been a great group to work with, and I'm looking forward to honoring them for this past season's efforts and to working with many of them in the coming season.

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