Swaying prairie grasses as tall as your shoulders. Corralled animals prancing in the distance. Folk-band cadences mixing with the setting sun. Farm to table buffet food spread out under a barn awning. These are the makings of a summer farm dinner, complete with locals and low impact foods. In Ann Arbor, Green Things farm hosts these evening picnics with food prepared from farm fresh ingredients. I’ve gone with my family several times and felt welcomed by the cultivated land, enjoyed delicious, fresh food and explored the raspberry patches. The appeal of slow food became obvious to me: I got to see first-hand the impact of quality ingredients and sustainable production practices.         

The term “Slow Food” comes from the worldwide organization of the same name which wishes to bring clean and healthy foods to people all around the world. Their website describes slow food succinctly, stating, “Slow Food is food that’s good for us, good for our environment and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it. In other words, food that is good, clean and fair … Slow Food is fresh and healthy, free of pesticides and chemicals and produced in a way that’s beneficial to all — from the farmer to the eater.” The organization also stands against the use of GMOs and supports the notion that decreasing the consumption of meat will greatly benefit the environment. Their progressive stance is one I believe in and one I know could help reduce the carbon emissions made from farm products.        

Every type of farmed food creates emissions and contributes to the growing epidemic of climate change. Our task is to decide each day what kind of ingredients we are choosing to purchase and use that may be able to reduce our carbon footprints. Of course, a vegan diet would be the most environmentally-friendly as it eliminates the need for animal products, dairy and all of the emissions and resources used to keep farm animals. However, if you can’t take the full plunge into veganism, there are alternative ways to keep emissions low, like simply reducing your meat and dairy consumption or cutting out red meat completely as its high concentration of emissions is harmful to the environment.       

The slow food campaign can help combat harmful food practices and ultimately cut down our impact on the environment. By engaging with local food producers, we can cut down several environmental costs of transportation and emissions. The organization is pushing to create a sustainable loop between consumers and producers that is admirable. Their work across the world is aimed at changing lifestyles and helping epidemics. John Kariuki, Kenyan Leader Summit attendee, explained their goals from a worldwide standpoint, stating, “We all share the responsibility for the future, and as Slow Food in Africa we believe in collaboration and not aid. Our combined efforts can increase the global cooperation, awareness, grassroots interventions and push policy makers towards a more sustainable future.” Many countries lack the resources to have access to quality food, so a push towards intervention is needed in order to ensure people are being fed.          

I truly admire the concept of slow food, but at the same time, I question the accessibility. Quality ingredients, organic items and locally farmed ingredients notoriously come at a higher price. This price imbalance makes me worry that not all people can access this kind of product. We must make slow food more accessible through an increase in local markets, the reduction of costs or even pushing local foods into more corporate companies. While these changes may be difficult to implement, I think slow food should be prioritized and made into a more common product in order to reduce prices and widen audiences.       

Slow food is a promising strategy in sustainability. It shifts the view of food production to local farmers and their hard work, which allows a decrease in food transportation and the production of less emissions. If this inspiring outlook on the way we purchase and obtain food can become a more accessible and localized option, it will become an inclusive way to combat climate change. Through conscious efforts to consume less environmental affectors, we can individually strive toward a safer future and healthier food intake.

Anne Else can be reached at aelse@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *