A bit ago, we talked about Local not being a four-letter word, and how some clients resisted the concept. Lately, some folks have resuscitated the “we’re too poor to be green” protest in response to the Slow Food Movement. So, we set out to explore Slow Food on a (very low) budget.
First, what do we mean by Slow Food Movement? Basically, raising and growing food on our own, or obtaining fresh food from local sources…Using those ingredients to prepare nutritious meals…Celebrating and enjoying simplicity in food.
Here’s what we found.
It’s not easy achieving a Slow Food diet with Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits (a.k.a. food stamps). The average weekly SNAP payment for a family of four is $68.88. I am often told that there are other things besides food that get paid, like the light bill, kids’ coats, gas for the car. Some folks don’t have a home or a kitchen to cook in. People working 2 or 3 jobs might not have the energy to cook, much less celebrate and enjoy the simplicity of food, after a 16 hour day.
But, for the last argument, there are some solutions. Planning is key. Preparing meals beforehand, when there is time, is an option. Learning how to prepare quick, easy, nutritious meals is imperative. (Rice, vegetables and beans or meat can be quick and don’t require hovering. Watched pot never boils, and all that.) Cooking isn’t as hard or time consuming as a lot of people have been told (especially as told by fast food companies). Also, let’s not forget all the people who used to cook after long days in the field or factory.
Being able to do the above requires education – either from growing up surrounded by simple cooking or learning from others later in life. Some of that education includes creative recipes and cooking from scratch. It’s also eating the food that is bought without wasting. And, something we push is growing a garden or gleaning.
We also found some documented efforts to live on food stamps. In one, a couple took on a “Slow Food for the Poor Challenge” (also know as a Food Stamp Challenge) and sought to eat for a week on a food stamp budget of 61.87 for two people. They did, supplementing with their small garden and shopping only at local farmers markets and other local food outlets. But, it didn’t seem they had to deal with the other realities of being poor like the lights, coats, gas.
So, is a Slow Food lifestyle possible? Probably, if a really concerted effort is taken to do it. But, that concerted effort requires all of us to share our own ideas and time. And, I suppose that’s why we’re here…