Steve and Lauren hosted another mouth-watering Slow Food weekend a few weeks ago, and Steve posed the question, “What would it take to get people involved in the Slow Food conversation?”

That really tripped my wires and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. See, when I think “people” I think of the families I work for; single-parent families who rely on CCAP to pay for their childcare, and work a minimum-wage job when they’re not trying to finish a degree at Metro. Time and slowing down is something far out of their frame of vision. Slow food for me and Cuyler is much more attainable, and we cook at home, from scratch, about five nights a week. Why? Because I love it and he’s along for the ride, although his personal reading and cooking journey is becoming very meaningful..ask him about Fast Food Nation (and the amazing soup he made).

I learned to love cooking in college, before I knew about the “movement”. It’s a stress reliever for me as a process and certainly it tastes better! Grilling a steak, simmering a sauce or a curry, making a salad with a glass of wine that slowly increases my feeling of warmth as the food slowly cooks…I absolutely could not live without it now.

So, okay, it’s great for me. How, and WHY, do we convince people with no time that Slow Food deserves a place in their lives..a place that would certainly have to be carved out by eliminating something else?

I don’t know the final answers to that question, but I know what they would ask.

1. What for? What’s in it for me? Why should I rearrange my very busy life to spend a few hours cooking every day when I could just order a pizza?

2. How can I afford it?

3. How can I make the time?

I only have very vague ideas of how I would answer these questions, but here’s the gist of it.

1. Health benefits, family bonding time, better-tasting food, and knowing what is going into your body.

2. You might not be able to, but cooking at home with cheap ingredients will be less expensive than eating out every time.

3. Making the time is where is really cuts. In the life of a single parent, getting home at 6 or later, dog-tired, is exactly how normal goes. Homework for the kids, dinner, bed; there’s no room for relaxed cooking in there. The only place you might be able to carve out the time is television. If there’s any kind of tv happening in there, there’s at least 30 minutes that could go into a meal.

But….the kids will pitch a fit, they definitely won’t help cook (kids of single parents often run the show because their parent either feels too guilty or too tired to step up and discipline) and do you really want to deal with all that?

There’s no question that life is hard for the minimum wage earners of America, and all the “time saving” options helpfully offered by the television and convenience food industries only make everything worse. We live on over-processed crap, visual and edible, because we are too tired to make anything better for ourselves…we are too busy working that awful job to pay the rent and buy the Lunchables and soda, we don’t have time to cook.

The TV is largely to blame, in my opinion, because it is the voice in every house that says “Faster, faster” All The Time. If we could silence that voice we might have both time to cook and the space to slow down.

SO essentially, you’d have to convince families that there were real benefits for them in learning to cook; then that the only way to make space for it is to shut off the tv and get the kids in the ktchen helping.

That would have positive effects too, since the next generation would grow up knowing how to feed themselves to some extent.

My heart aches for the kids who stumble, bleary-eyed, into my classroom at 7:30 am, clutching a Pop-tart and a can of Pepsi. I know they have a Lunchable in their bag and I sincerely doubt that dinner will be a lovingly prepared, balanced meal. Food is an expression of love to me, and although I know that these parents love their kids, I wish I could see a clear path to helping them give their kids a piece of bread instead of a snake or the equivalent breakfast pastry.

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