Slow Down and Smell The Flowers
August 13, 2010
Have I ever told you writing is a kind of therapy? Well, it is.
I found out that sometimes, I write as a way of thinking. This month was very hectic for me and therefore for our entire family. I had many big projects to complete and I could not do them without the help of my family. Gal and the kids helped me a lot and we ended up dedicating almost 3 weekends to this work (we are still recovering from work, work and more work). All this work involved doing things I love, so it made me excited and I was in total flow and winding down was not easy. That made me think about slowing down as the topic this time.
Slowing down is a challenge for many people. The more successful you are at what you do, the more you risk being unable to slow down and enjoy the simple things. Slowing down is a challenge for me, so I am taking the time to write what happened to me in the last month and how I got over it (still doing that).
There is more to life than increasing its speed
In recent years (decades), "fast" was the name of the game. Everything changed pace and with the many rewards of a fast life, we lost the pleasures of smelling the flowers along the way. We cannot say there is only bad in a fast life, because technology and fast engines have allowed me to fly across the ocean for 24 hours and see my parents on the other side of the world. Without that technology, it would have taken me weeks to travel by ship (300 years ago, sailing across the ocean in ship was considered fast travel - it was much faster than swimming).
To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time
- Leonard Bernstein
It is funny how humanity has developed and shifted to doing things faster in order to cheat death, yet this is the same reason we need to slow down. We are "time poor" and we have reached a point where to gain quantity (achievements, possessions, fame), we have sacrificed quality (wisdom, character, love, health).
In the old days, people felt they did not have enough time to do all the things they wanted to do. It is easy to see why people whose life expectancy was 40 or 50 years could not do all the things we can do now and looked for ways to do things faster. I think they did a very good job of it too. Thanks to them, we can send our kids to school and we do not need to personally hunt or gather food.
The world institute of slowness was formed in 1999 to facilitate a slow awareness around the globe. The idea that we are missing the joy of what life has to offer by doing things quickly without taking the time to connect with ourselves, with our planet, with our families and with others, has inspired movements of slowing down around the world.
The first person who brought "slowing down" to people's attention was Carlo Petrini who protested in 1980 against the opening of a MacDonald's store in Rome. Back then, he started the "slow food" movement, using the idea of slow food as a counter idea to the booming "fast food" industry. Carlo Petrini protested against shifting food from one place to another and encouraged going back to the appreciating local produce and enjoying the process of making (and eating) our food, rather than just quickly satisfying our hunger.
There is a whole line of thought claiming that our population is obese because we do not enjoy our food - we fight it. Food is no longer fuel for the body - it is the enemy.
Read the whole article here.
Care2 make a difference
Real Food Summer Reading: A Crash Course In Sustainable Eating
July 2, 2010
Sustainable Food: Talk the Talk
Are you interested in spending a little time this summer giving yourself a quick but thorough education on the sustainable food movement? Here are five crucial books by sustainable food advocates that lay out in clear terms the environmental, social, economic and public health problems our unsustainable modern industrialized food production system creates, and propose more sustainable solutions.
The Omnivore\'s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan: One of today\'s most popular authors on food, Michael Pollan\'s ever-growing body of work on healthy, sustainable eating is widely considered must-read material for anyone interested in the real food and locavore movements. The success of his seminal book The Omivore\'s Dilemma sparked a wave of new popular literature on the environmental, social, and moral issues posed by our 21st century way of eating. If you haven\'t read a single book on the sustainable food movement yet, and don\'t know where to begin, start here.
Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork, by Anna Lappe: Diet for a Hot Planet explores in detail the myriad connections between American-style industrial agriculture and global climate change, and presents real scientific evidence to thoroughly debunk the myth that industrial agriculture and genetically modified foods are necessary to feed an overcrowded world.
Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini: The founder of the international advocacy organization Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, makes a compelling case that industrialized agricultural system not only threatens biodiversity, contributes to global warming, damages public health, and undermines traditional small town and rural economies, but also literally sucks the flavor out of our lives by denying us access to fresh, locally produced, carefully crafted food.
Animal Factory by David Kirby: If investigative journalist David Kirby\'s expose about the negative effects of factory-style animal farms (also known as CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations) on the health and welfare of communities surrounding them doesn\'t scare you about the safety of factory farmed meat and dairy, check your pulse. Animal Factory poses a powerful argument for returning to more sustainable livestock farming practices.
Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale: Given that Maria Rodale comes from a famous family of highly successful organic farmering advocates, you would only expect her to be biased in favor or organic food. But Organic Manifesto is much more than an opinion piece -- this slim book is packed cover to cover with concrete scientific data to support Rodale’s well-reasoned arguments on the superior sustainability of organic agriculture, and the superior health benefits of organic food.
EXTRA CREDIT: The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan: If you\'ve already read Pollan\'s more famous books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, then check out an older, less well-known book of Pollan\'s, The Botany of Desire. In it, Pollan explores in great depth and detail humanity’s relationship with domesticated plants. While The Botany of Desire was not written as a treatise on sustainable eating, the seeds of Pollan’s later work on food policy are present within two fascinating food-related sections. In a section on apples, Pollan deftly examines industrialized agriculture\'s negative effects on biodiversity and local food cultures, and in a section on the humble potato, he exposes the dangers of monoculture, and offers the reader an inside look at agriculture giant Monsanto’s haphazard, unpredictable, unexpectedly violent process for creating genetically engineered foods.
Sustainable Eating: Walk the Walk
The books listed above all explain the myriad problems inherent in the industrialized world’s food system. But what can each of us, as individuals, do in our own lives to make more sustainable food choices? The following mix of memoirs and how-to-guides are written by food activists who have personally tried to put their passion for sustainable food into practice by changing their own lifestyles and eating habits. Both sustainable food newbies and seasoned sustainavores will find great ideas in these books on how we as individuals can improve the sustainability of our own daily diets.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: If you read only one book, ever, about the locavore movement, make it this one. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, famed novelist and nonfiction author Barbara Kingsolver records her family\'s experimental year of trying to follow a strict locavore lifestyle. Determined to improve the sustainability of her diet, Kingsolver moves to a small farm and tries for one year to grow much of her own produce and meat, while purchasing other staples as locally and seasonably as possible. In the course of the project she discovers how to make her own cheese, figures out how to throw a dinner party using only seasonal food, learns perhaps more than she wanted to about the sexual habits of turkeys, and takes spiritual guidance from an Amish farmer. It’s hands down the most gripping book I\'ve ever read about a garden.
Farm City by Novella Carpenter: Ever wonder what it\'s like to run a really urban farm? A really, really urban farm, as in, a farm in a ramshackle rented apartment and a vacant lot on a dead-end street in an Oakland slum notorious for petty drug dealers and prostitutes? Find out in Farm City, a critically acclaimed memoir by journalist and bold urban farmer, Novella Carpenter.
City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America by Laura J. Lawson: Think urban community gardens couldn’t possibly grow enough produce to make a positive impact on the way a city eats? Think again. This book explores the surprisingly successful history of American community gardens, including the Victory Gardens of World War II, that at one point provided 40 percent of America\'s produce supply. City Bountiful offers sound advice on how to apply the lessons from community gardens of the past to the present, and would make a great resource for anyone considering starting a local community garden.
The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutzen: If you\'re a city dweller who wants to reduce your carbon footprint by growing and preserving some of your own food, but you\'re not sure where to start, check out this fact-packed, no-nonsense how-to handbook for beginning urban food growers. It\'s chock full of detailed instructions (including diagrams) on how to grow good food sustainably in an urban environment.
The Locavore Way by Amy Cotler: One of many ways to substantially reduce the environmental impact of the food you eat is to introduce more locally grown food into your diet. But in a world where big box grocery store shelves are stocked with fruits and vegetables from several different continents, and processed foods often contain a mystery mix of ingredients with various unlabled foreign origins, it can be difficult for the aspiring locavore to figure out where and how to buy the best locally sourced food. This easy-to-read guide offers some savvy tips for reconnecting with your local food economy.
Slow Food International - Sloweb
Petrini and Rifkin Talk Nature
June 30, 2010
Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini discusses energy, environment, food and democracy with economist and activist Jeremy Rifkin. The following are extracts from their interview, first appearing in La Repubblica (Italy) on June 9, 2010.
Petrini: My dear Jeremy, I find that there are extraordinary similarities and parallels between the new politics of energy you promote and the new politics of food we are trying to pursue with Slow Food. In fact, food politics must be based on the concept that food is the primary energy of life. If food is energy, then we must realize that the current food production system is a disaster. I believe that the two main ideas we share are the rejection of over-centralized systems and a return to a holistic conception of our existence on this planet. The real problem is that on one side there is a centralized vision of agriculture, made up of highly unsustainable monocultures and intensive farms, and on the other there has been a complete rejection of a holistic way of thinking, which should be innate in agriculture, and instead mechanistic and reductionist ways of thinking have been combined. A mechanistic view ends up reducing the value of food to a mere commodity, to simple merchandise. And this is why as far as food is concerned we can no longer perceive the difference between value and price: We all pay close attention to what food costs, but not to its deeper meaning. Additionally, with this system, small-scale food producers in every corner of the world have been reduced to a desperate state. We can’t go on in this way anymore. We must change the paradigm.
Read the whole article here.