Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.

~ Bill Cosby ~

The Slow Food Eating Clean Swindle

June 30th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 12 secs

Does slow food have anything to do with being “clean”?

How  could I have missed the slow food eating clean swindle until now? Must be because of my tendency to live under a rock down at the bottom of the garden. Scams tend to  escape me there. Why do I say it’s a scam? Let me tell you.

Up front, I love slow food and, to me, the slow food movement is all about putting the pleasure, wholesomeness, and social experience back into food for real people. Slow food promotes empowering regular folk so we can rediscover and celebrate those delicious home cooked foods our grandmothers made. While food as merchandise, mass-produced and lacking in flavor and nutrition, is regarded as something you only want to eat sparingly. Simple really. So what’s the slow food eating clean business about?

Well, somewhere along the line, a few folk figured they could obviously cash in on slow food too, by adding a few bells and whistles to the concept. Hence, “eating clean” – whatever that means. I think it’s meant to tap into our ideas of health, hygiene, and promote the notion that every other food is somehow “dirty.”  Pretty cynical really.

From the get go this trick with smoke and mirrors is subtle. From what I can see, the food promoted through the slow food eating clean approach is reasonable to eat. Plus, recommendations to eat more often and be vigilant about ingredients is certainly sound. But the concept remains: eating clean implies nothing else is right. So that, somehow, all other alternatives are wrong. This feeds a rule mentality to eating that, to me, seems rather unhealthy. “Do this and you’ll be okay. But you must obey the rules.” Uh huh…

Worse than that, they aren’t to increase the pleasure of eating or achieve a greater culinary outcome. They are just to make eating a correct “process.” To me, that feels decidedly unnatural and unhealthy, and I wonder what people in third world countries would make of it.

The slow food eating clean approach is flawed because food is personal; even intimate. Good food that is a pleasure to eat, share, and prepare, doesn’t need yet another vetting level to decide if it’s good. It’s good because people have been enjoying it that way for hundred of years or more. Slow foods like stews, whole grain breads, vegetables, and other fresh unprocessed ingredients are superb. We don’t need someone to intervene to tell us if this is clean or not. That’s manipulative rubbish.

As a rule of thumb, if a food meant to be fresh doesn’t go off easily, it’s suspect. Likewise, food that’s made from processed ingredients is inferior because it generally lacks essential nutrients. And anything that contains lots of sugar or fats should only be used sometimes. How easy to remember is that? There simply isn’t any need to shoehorn in the slow food eating clean concepts. After all, humanity has managed quite well without them. At least, until recently…

So what’s the problem with food today? As a layperson, I can only comment based on what I have read. But it appears that over-processing food to strip it of its fiber and nutritional benefits and replacing these with detrimental ingredients is a big factor. Unlike slow food, fast food is a moneymaking product first and sustenance second. Whole generations have now grown up not knowing what good food is, thanks to the stealthy marketing of food as merchandise. That’s quite apart from the issues of reduced physical activity too.

Now, if you have a weight problem, I would dearly like to encourage you and suggest two things. Firstly, don’t diet (they don’t work) and be wary of anyone trying to claim they are the good food authority, like the slow food eating clean brigade. Just seek out good quality foods as I’ve described (like fresh fruit and vegetables, for instance), and enjoy them. You can still have some processed stuff now and then, if you really miss it. But the key is simple: choose good food, then have fun preparing it and sharing it.

Secondly, give yourself a break from the brainwashing. You are far more than food. So the slow food eating clean business isn’t the lynchpin of your worth. What you choose to contribute and do with your life is what really matters. Fat, or the lack of it, has absolutely nothing to do with it. Just be your beautiful self and live with character and purpose. That adds infinitely more value to the world and lets you focus on far more important things than what we put in our mouth.


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