Fast food is king in America. From dollar menus to monster burgers to ready-when-you-are pizza, Americans demand cheap and quick meals, spending nearly $170 billion on fast food each year. However, rising food prices and an increased focus on the nutritional value of fast food have paved the way for a new culinary category: slow food. The antithesis of fast food, slow food is nutritious, organic, and locally-sourced. According to Slow Food USA, the slow food movement makes it “easier to access real food that is good for us, good for those who produce it and good for the planet”.
What is Slow Food?
To be considered “slow”, food must meet three specific criteria. First, slow food is good. What exactly is good? In this case, good means that the food is not only tasty but also made from healthy animals and plants. Slow food is comprised of ingredients like organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and free-range chickens. The concept of good also extends to those who make and eat it. Slow food creates a positive experience that enables people to form communities and showcase their cultures.
Slow food is also clean. In other words, it is both healthy and environmentally conscious. Free of artificial ingredients, slow food is grown and harvested using eco-friendly methods.
Finally, slow food is fair. Supporters of the slow food movement believe that “food is a universal right”. Based on this principle, slow food is accessible to everyone, no matter how poor. Fair also applies to the people who create slow food: it is produced by people who are treated and compensated fairly for their work.
How Can I Incorporate Slow Food into My Menu?
Supporting the slow food movement at your restaurant starts with sourcing. Think about where and how your food is produced. Consider ordering your ingredients from local organic farmers. Whenever possible, visit the farms to see firsthand how the food is grown and meet those working to grow and harvest it. Alternatively, consider growing your own organic produce.
Second, focus on the experience of eating the food you serve. Strive to make meals more interactive by planning tastings for the community or holding events for local groups at your restaurant. Additionally, promote diversity by incorporating flavors and dishes from other cultures into your menu.
Whether or not you choose to add slow food to your menu, thinking about the impact the food you serve has upon the people who make and consume it can help you to make more informed decisions as a restaurateur and could have a substantial impact upon your business.