Slow Food: Learn to Love Leisurely Dining

Replace mealtime meltdown with relaxation

By Pamela Donegan
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

To the uninitiated, "slow food" sounds like the punch line to a joke about tardy pizza delivery. But slow food is no joke. It's an international movement devoted to sustaining the environment, promoting cultural diversity, and preserving "endangered" local cuisines.

The slow food movement also has a more down-to-earth mission: to teach people to appreciate the taste, presentation, and preparation of food and drink, while taking time to enjoy life with family and friends.

"Our objectives are simple," says Cerise Mayo, program director for Slow Food USA. "Enjoy what you eat. Come together and savor the pleasures of the table while taking the time to learn where your food comes from so you can experience it in a new way."

Whether or not you agree with the movement's political agenda, nutritional experts who spoke with WebMD say most everyone can benefit from slowing down the pace at mealtimes. Taking the time to savor lovingly prepared food in the company of friends and family is good for your outlook -- and maybe your waistline as well, they say.

The Movement's Beginnings

As the name suggests, slow food is intended as an antidote to fast food. The movement's founder, Italian gastronomist and journalist Carlo Petrini, wrote "The Slow Food Manifesto" in 1986 to protest the opening of a McDonald's restaurant near Rome's famous Piazza di Spagna.

According to Petrini's manifesto: "The Fast Life...disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes, and forces us to eat Fast Food." The manifesto goes on to suggest that the only sensible way of opposing "the universal folly" of the fast life is with "a firm defense of quiet material pleasure."