Making Food Slower

by Bridget Beorse
by Bridget Beorse
We love caramelized onions, but do we have the time to cook them? Slate writer Tom Scocca recently ranted about recipe writers’ widespread fabrication about the time it takes to do the job properly—45 minutes, he insists, rather than the five minutes some recipes claim. Scocca believes that consumers’ demand for quick and easy dinners is pressuring writers to mislead their readers.

This push for quick and easy dinners is driven in part by the entrance of women into the labor force and the greater profit potential of processed foods, says professor Marion Nestle in her [2002] 2007 book Food Politics; How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.

In response, activists suggest that “slow food” unites enjoyment of food with healthy lifestyles, community ties, and environmental stability. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), reconnecting people with farmers, has also grown in popularity over the last decade. Most Americans now work more than 40 hours a week, making faster food convenient, if not essential. Sociologist Marcia Ostrom’s 2008 chapter, Community Supported Agriculture as an Agent of Change; Is it Working? (Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for Sustainability) describes CSA members’ “supermarket withdrawal”: their complaints about lack of variety, unfamiliar produce, or an excess of veggies. While eating local may sound appealing, it may entail eating Swiss chard or kale for dinner three times a week.

All of the demands placed on us daily can, at times, make the simple act of making dinner feel like a herculean task. Sometimes it’s just easier to pretend that caramelizing onions only takes five minutes. But the slow food movement forces us to think carefully about the way we eat.