You Are How You Eat: The Slow Food Movement

slow food


The concept of slow food changed the way I grow, prepare, and eat food because, honestly, it changed the way I think about food. As an avid foodie and gardener, food is big part of my life, but learning about the Slow Food Movement (and how it sparked the Slow Living Movement) made me realize that food is actually one of the most vital parts of my life.

slow food movementIf you stop to think about it, something that affects your mind, body, energy, and quality of life is kind of a big deal. It’s not just about health, either. It’s about flavor, community, family, and nature.

Slow food isn’t a diet or a checklist of dos and don’ts for what you can and can’t eat. Instead, it’s a transformative way of thinking about what you eat and why.

Curious? I hope so, because slow food’s focus on local, traditional, homegrown, and healthy foods can lead you to a simpler, stronger, and more grounded life.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

My passion for cooking and gardening makes slow, clean food one of the most enriching parts of my life. Since I’m all about simplicity, I’ve incorporated slow food into my daily routine in basic, vital ways that don’t overcomplicate my life.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is Slow Food?

What Is Slow Food

Just as slow living emphasizes enjoying your moments, slow food is all about savoring food that is local, traditional, wholesome, and, whenever possible, organic and homegrown.

slow food is local and traditionalEmbracing the food culture around you means cooking according to what’s in season with locally sourced ingredients, and sharing the joy of purposefully selected foods with your family.

Slow food’s emphasis on quality is more essential to your life than you might think. Not to be cliché, but we really “are what we eat.” I’d like to add that we are “how we eat” as well. If you are grabbing whatever is fast, easy, and convenient, chances are you’re living a lifestyle that is all about speed, multitasking, and stress. Because of this, a slower way of eating flows naturally from a slower, more intentional and enjoyable way of life.

Slow Food vs. Fast Food

We all know that burgers and fries, onion rings and milkshakes, and who-knows-what’s-in-this tacos aren’t wholesome for our bodies (or our environment, for that matter).

I can’t deny that these foods can be delicious and crave worthy, but I honestly prefer the way I live and feel when I’m thoughtful about what I eat and why I’m eating it instead of scarfing down processed drive-through meals because I’m in too much of a hurry to think about what I’m eating and what my body needs.

a simple formula for living your best life

History Of The Slow Food Movement

History Of The Slow Food Movement

It’s impossible to separate the concept of slow food from Slow Food International, an organization founded by Carlo Petrini in the 1980s in an attempt to help people choose regionally based, locally sourced, whole foods instead of processed, cookie-cutter, grab-and-dash meals that were neither healthy nor local.

Petrini’s idea of slow food extended to a slower way of living in which people took the time to intentionally choose or grow their own foods, involving their families in the processes of gathering, cooking, and sharing in a nourishing meal.

Slow food, you see, is as much about a wholesome way of life as it is about the food you eat.

slow living quotes

Slow Food Beliefs And Principles

Slow Food Beliefs And Principles

The philosophy of Slow Food aligns with my idea of slow living perfectly. It’s all about intentionality, community, and taking time to enjoy every aspect of your life — in this case the food you eat.

Rather than having a list of slow foods that people need to eat, Slow Food has three main tenets that hold true for all flavors of slow food living, and help slow foodies choose the best ingredients.

Tenets Of Slow Food

  1. Good: a fresh and flavorsome seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is part of our local culture
  2. Clean: food production and consumption that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health
  3. Fair: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small-scale producers

Grow Your Own Slow Food

grow your own slow food

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I like living small, I love cooking, and I enjoy the outdoors. Because of my personality and some intentional life choices I have made, homesteading is a natural part of my life — and it brought slow food along for the ride.

I know it might not sound natural to you right now, but like anything else, if you start small and allow the benefits to start seeping into your life, the bigger and better aspects of homesteading become desirable and possible.

homesteading is a life choice

beginning homesteading

Don’t Be Afraid To Plant A Garden

First off, I have loads of gardening advice for you as you begin your garden, and I can continue to help as you build it. Just stick with me, and we can do this. Planting a garden is one of the most rewarding aspects of slow food living, and I, for one, have learned so much about food, about myself, and about life in general from the cultivation process.

Plant An Herb Garden

If you’re wanting to start small, planting some herbs in indoor planters or even in a small flowerbed can help build your confidence while adding natural, homegrown, and organic flavor to your cooking. Your family can help with caring for the small herb garden, learning together how natural the process of real food is and how the earth can nourish our bodies.

Plant A Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardens are my area of expertise and are one of the best ways to cultivate an awareness of nature, of the seasons, and a connection with the earth and the food it produces for our nourishment. Growing your own vegetables will build your awareness of what is locally in season where you live and will also add fresh, tasty veggies to your diet and give you a sense of accomplishment in the meals you are able to produce.

gardening for beginners

Start Composting To Help Your Garden Grow

Composting is one of my hobby niches, and I love sharing my knowledge with others and helping to spread awareness of all of the creative ways people have come up with over the years for using what would otherwise be waste as something to enrich their soil.

From building a compost bin to learning how to compost with worms, make sure to take advantage of the numerous resources I have available to help you get started.

how to build a compost bin

Slow Gardening

Whatever type of gardening you’re into or decide to start, intentionally focus on a slower, more mindful way of cultivation.

An important note here is that slow does not mean lazy. Slow in the context of slow living, slow food, or slow gardening is quite the opposite of laziness, really.

What Slow Gardening Is

  • Patient: Methodically rejecting the need for instant results or gratification.
  • Intentional: Choosing ways of cultivating the soil and plants that are best suited for nourishment and lifestyle.
  • Connected: Pleasurably in-touch with the earth, including the people you care about in your journey.
  • Seasonal: Locally focused on what grows during each season of the year and how you can build your diet around it.
  • Mindful: Purposefully aware of your body’s needs, of nature, and of what really matters in your life.
  • Responsible: Mindfully committed to preventing unnecessary harm or waste for your body and for our environment.
  • Enjoyable: Peacefully focused on the present, on enriching our lives, and on cultivating our relationships.

Dehydrate What You Grow

While you can also choose canning as an option for a longer-term shelf life, dehydrating appeals to me as a homesteader because of its ease and simplicity. As a proponent of Slow Food, I also like dehydrating, because it doesn’t involve cooking out your homegrown food’s nutrients with high heat.

The simplest way to dehydrate the food that you grow is to invest in a dehydrator, which ranges from $40-$300 depending on the size and the brand, but you can also use your oven if you have the time.

For more tips on dehydrating, be sure to check out my post on dehydrating your own food.

dehydrate and store food

guide to dehydrating food

Raise Your Own Chickens

Who doesn’t love a freshly hatched fluffball of a baby chick? Honestly, though, raising chickens is a rewarding part of homesteading that works right into a slow food lifestyle. You can enjoy watching the little cheepers grow into clucking hens all while learning as a family to care for them and getting free-range, farm-fresh eggs for your breakfasts and baking pleasure.

Start small with a few hens and see how it goes. As you get more confident, I have numerous posts to help you design some DIY chicken nesting boxes, teach you how to build a chicken coop, and guide you in determining what chicken breed is the best for your needs, among many other helpful tips.

Getting Started With Chickens

You Can Even Eat Slow With Urban Homesteading

Eat Slow With Urban Homesteading

If you don’t live in the country or don’t have any land, homesteading might not seem possible for you. I’m not going to encourage you to raise chickens indoors or in a small backyard where it might actually be illegal, but I do want you to consider making small steps toward a slower, healthier lifestyle.

How To Start Urban Homesteading

  • Use window boxes or planters to grow fresh herbs
  • Add some vegetable plants to your flowerbeds
  • Keep a smaller-scale composting bin (such as a lidded countertop bin)
  • Shop at your local farmer’s market to fill in what you can’t grow or raise yourself
  • If possible (and legal) keep a small backyard chicken coop to produce enough eggs for your family

You might be surprised how well you can supplement your family’s menu with fresh, homegrown foods this way.

Keep Your Eyes On The Big Picture

The real value in slow food and homesteading is the ability to be self-sufficient, sustainable, and connected to nature alongside your loved ones. Any level or version of homesteading you are able and willing to commit to allows you to get your hands in the earth, to take steps toward lowering waste, and to make yourself more self-sufficient than you used to be.

At the end of the day, homesteading looks different for everybody, and you don’t have to be 100 percent self-sufficient to call yourself a homesteader.

farming was the focus of society
Just taking steps to become more independent in your food supply will add value and intentionality to your life in big ways.

Support Your Local Food And Farms

Support Your Local Food And Farms

Next to growing your own food, supporting those in your area who are growing organic foods is a great way to lean into a slow food lifestyle. You probably won’t see a store in your area called the ‘slow food market,’ but what you will find are farms or markets/restaurants that sell locally cultivated foods.

support local farmsA little research and a little practice are all it takes to eat local. Start buying directly from your local farmers, or buy produce that’s marked ‘locally grown’ at your grocery store.

If you live in an urban area and there aren’t any farms close by, find a nearby farmer’s market and some restaurants that serve local meat and produce.

Once you’ve got a good process of buying, cooking, and eating locally sourced foods, share what you’ve learned with family and friends to help build the market for local food.

Eat According To What’s In Season

Eat According To Whats In Season

The easiest way to eat local is to meal plan according to what’s in season. Slow Food as a whole is all about locally sourced, seasonal food that keeps us connected to the natural growing cycles where we live and enables us to eat fresh instead of preserved and processed ingredients.

eat according to what is in seasonGardening more than anything will teach you all about what’s in season in your area as you figure out what plants grow during different times of the year, but you can also get a good feel for seasonal eating by browsing the farms and farmer’s markets near you and seeing what’s available.

I love cooking with fresh ingredients, so I’m familiar with the seasonal availability of produce in my area of Charlotte, North Carolina. What’s seasonal for me might be different than what’s seasonal for you. Think local. Think fresh and wholesome food for yourself and your family.

Practical Tips To Find Slow Food Success

Practical Tips To Find Slow Food Success

If you’re still wondering if a slow food lifestyle is right for you, or wondering how to go about starting a shift in the way you eat and live, here are some tips to help you achieve success in whatever level of slow food you set your sights on.

Start Slowly

Take your time. Do some research. Determine what benefits you want from your food and which items you will grow or buy. You really can take all the time you need. The way you eat is a lifelong process that you can continually take steps to improve or alter based on your needs and your time of life.

Define Your Relationship With Food

Decide what’s important to you in your slow food lifestyle and view your food as an investment in yourself and in your family. Embrace food as your lifelong companion, and figure out what place it has in your life and home.

Take Control Of Your Kitchen

Start your journey to slow food by removing unwanted processed foods or excess foods you probably won’t use. This will make room for you to stock your pantry with healthy building blocks for your upcoming meals.

how to organize a small kitchen

Prioritize Family Food And Dinners

Involve your loved ones in your food choices, cultivation, and cooking. Make a ritual of family mealtimes whenever they are possible in your schedule. Food is something everyone needs and enjoys, and it can become something that brings you closer to your loved ones if you let it.

Plan Meals In Advance

Get together with your family (if you live with family) and pick out some recipes you will all enjoy that can be made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Plan out a meal schedule so you can easily discover what ingredients you need for the week.

Record Slow Recipes As You Find New Family Favorites

This will help make your meal planning and prep so much easier. Learning to eat slow can feel fun and adventurous at first, but you will want to find some easy fallback recipes to have on hand for later. Like I’ve said before, slow isn’t about being lazy, but it is about making your decisions as effortless as possible so you can enjoy your slow eating lifestyle.

Buy Fresh Ingredients Instead Of Processed Foods

If you’re not ready to commit to growing your own foods, start opting for fresh, healthy ingredients instead of boxed or canned meals. Take advantage of the fresh produce section at your grocery store. When possible, shop local at farmer’s markets.

minimalist diet

Cook Some Staples In Bulk

Save some time and some fuel by buying and cooking some ingredients in bulk for either freezing or dehydrating. You can do this with what you grow as well, especially if your garden is producing more than your family can eat fresh in a week. Having a freezer or pantry stocked with ready-made meals from fresh ingredients means your slow eating lifestyle can be quick and easy when it needs to be without sacrificing your nutrition or values.

Teach What You Learn About Eating Slow

It’s always easier to do things together. Introduce family and friends to your food values and encourage them to try out what you’re learning for themselves. Grow your own little slow food community (just don’t be preachy, please), and help support each other in the learning process.

Connect With Your Local Slow Food Community

As a company, Slow Food International is everywhere, and with it comes amazing opportunities for connecting with others in your community who are dedicated to a slower food lifestyle. Do some research online and discover where you might be able to connect. Slow Food International’s website is a great place to start.

slow living tips

Find More Inspiration for Eating Slow

Find More Inspiration for Eating Slow

If you’re interested in the Slow Living Movement as a whole, or even if you’d just like to take a closer look at homesteading, be sure to check out my list of slow living book recommendations and my homesteading book list.

At the end of the day, slow food starts with you. You will only embrace a slower eating lifestyle by making small choices that begin to transform the quality of your daily life. If you’re wanting help along the way or a chance to dig deeper into the philosophy and practical application of slow food and the clean food movement, there are some great resources out there.

Slow Food Must-Reads

slow food nation

Slow Food Nation

by Carlo Petrini

we are what we eat

We Are What We Eat

by Alice Waters

slow food


by Gizzi Erskine

Your Turn!

  • What aspect of slow food is most appealing to you?
  • What one choice can you make today to improve the quality of your food?

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