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Life In The Slow Lane

By Allan Eastman

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Slow Down, You’re Moving Too Fast

Friends Sitting Down At A Dinner Party Chatting

The slow food movement creates quality time with loved ones.

©iStockphoto.com/Catherine Yeulet

In the last decade, a movement of sorts has sprung into being all over the World that is dedicated to at least partially opting out of the frantic pace of modern existence. It is a reaction to accelerative Speed and all its aspects in our present day culture. What it is really all about is taking the time to do things in a way that gives back meaning to one’s life and enhances our existence as human beings. It is about ceasing to be merely a cog in an economic engine and really, about creating a balance in life between the necessary work that we must do - usually quickly - to survive economically and a way of living that uncouples us from the culture of Speed and nurtures our human needs.

Perhaps inevitably, it began in the land of la dolce vita – the sweet life – Italy, with the Slow Food movement but it has gone far beyond that into many other areas.

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The Slow Food idea began as a reaction to the incursion of fast food culture into a country where good eating with friends and family was considered by many to be almost a human right. Morgan Spurlock’s movie, Super Size Me, demonstrated that a strictly fast food diet – with its high fat and carbohydrate content – was not only dangerous to one’s waistline but was literally deadly. By the end of one month Spurlock’s doctor was warning of dire health consequences if he continued living on hamburgers and french fries.

But there are social and psychological aspects to fast food as well. Time previously spent in the company of one’s family and friends over an evening meal was disappearing from people’s lives as well. Eating - a universal human need - had become a fueling pit stop, just another high speed event in a too busy lifestyle.

The slow food movement tries to rebalance all of these aspects. We’ve discussed before how we can perceptually slow down the rapidly passing Time of our lives by becoming deeply involved in new things. Cooking is an activity which can be very creative and satisfying. It requires concentration and study to do well but at the same time it is relaxing and interesting. There is a tangible sense of reward not only when a new dish turns out well but in the compliments from those you have served it to. Not to mention how good it tastes after all that processed, chemically laced food we are used to wolfing down at a fast food restaurant.

And there are other great advantages, as well. Eating well prepared food is a pleasure but it is also much healthier than fast food which is drenched in sugar, salt and various preservatives in an attempt to make it more palatable. But the greatest reward of slow food is the return of quality time to one’s relationships. Sharing a good meal with loved ones or dear friends or interesting newcomers returns to us one of the oldest rituals of human existence. Good conversation, shared experience, getting to understand people you care about more deeply while you enjoy the sensual experience of eating good food – hopefully with some good wine - creates and fosters strong relationships and is a meaningful pleasure in itself. A few hours spent preparing and enjoying such a meal generally feels like it lasts much longer. It creates quality Time.

Embracing a slow food approach is a great way to start to take some Speed off of your life. Remember, it is all about balance. Preparing a good meal for family and friends once or twice a week is an excellent beginning, even if your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to do it all the time.

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