I love watching my 9-month-old son interact with the world around him. His world is so small and he takes things at his own pace. He doesn't seem to worry about a thing and he doesn't have to rush off anywhere. Watching him eat is particularly fascinating. This morning, I gave him some cut up melon, some pear, and a handful of Cheerios. 45 minutes later, he was still slowly enjoying his food. He didn't care that I needed to shower and get to work. He was enjoying this simple pleasure at his own pace.
Watching him eat has made me realize that the mission of Slow Food International is really something we should all consider. The mission of the organization is 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." Watching my son work on a piece of melon the size of a raisin for 10 minutes has made me realize maybe this is the way nature intended us to enjoy food.
I am guilty of racing through meals. Often I rush up to Valentine Hall at Lasell and scarf down a meal between meetings and classes. I know I need to slow down at my meals. Eating is more than just calories.
I spent the summer reading books by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. These books have been highly influential in my thinking about food. Since reading these books, I am now a big proponent of local agriculture. Eating local has so many environmental advantages. Animals are treated more humanely, less pesticides and herbicides are used, and less energy is used in packaging and shipping food. It is a great sign that farmers markets are experiencing rapid growth as more people recognize the value of knowing their farm. I hope this trend continues.
Institutional buyers, such as Lasell and other colleges, can have a large impact on how food is produced in this country. Farm to School programs are expanding and I think it is time all college campuses participate. Colleges are advocates for social responsibility and it is time we accepted responsibility for how the food we feed our students is grown. The dining hall experience is such a significant part of student life. We should use this as a teaching opportunity to educate students about where and when food is grown. We should be supporting local farmers whether they are growing apples, chickens, tomatoes, or grass fed beef.
We have had discussions about using more local food and local food products at Lasell. I hope we continue these discussion. I think change will come if more students slow down and think about what they are eating. If we all just think about our food like my 9-month-old son, the ills in our food economy will be worked out.