Slow Carb diets, the Slow Food movement, Slowing Down while you eat — SLOW seems to be everywhere. And then I read about another interpretation of the word slow, as in the S.L.O.W Diet — a diet for kids focusing on Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole foods to nourish and protect our growing young people. It may not be the most headline-grabbing diet, and it seems simple enough, but when you think about it, this diet makes complete sense.
Why seasonal? You are going to be buying produce that is at its nutritional best when you buy in season. If you are buying organic fruit and veg, there are very clear seasons even for imported produce — for example we are just coming to the end of the orange season (the blood oranges have been amazing!) and just starting the asparagus season (not the Irish asparagus season which will come a little later in the year, but the German one which starts earlier). Outside of these few weeks you cannot get asparagus organically, as no one really grows it out of season. You can get oranges, but they will not be half as juicy. For me, buying in season means I enjoy everything much more — organic oranges in season are really worth the wait.
Why local? Locally grown food has travelled less air/sea/road miles so is likely to leave a smaller carbon footprint (which is good for the environment) and means we are supporting farmers and growers in our area (which is great for the local economy) but equally as importantly the shorter amount of time your food has had in storage the more nutrients it is likely to still be abundant in. We all remember the taste of the first new potatoes that were harvested from the back garden — eating local fresh produce as much as possible means you get to enjoy these simple pleasures often! All you need to do is shop carefully and be aware of where your food comes from and find growers in your area who you can support, if you don’t grow yourself that is!
Why organic? A study I read about recently found that eating organic foods reduces pesticide exposure by nearly 90 per cent after just one week. This is amazing. Every food choice you make can lead to a change in your health. In Organico Cafe, we use organic ingredients where possible, and we are constantly getting very positive comments about the way our food makes people feel after they eat it. This has to do with a lot of things including the way we cook our food. We make everything from scratch and we never ever microwave, as we believe it destroys many nutrients; we don’t deep fat fry and we certainly don’t buy in processed foods from mass producers (you would be shocked at what you are eating in many restaurants — google Joanna Blythman the Guardian). The fact that we use organic vibrant vegetables is also obviously a factor. You really can feel the difference!
Why wholefood? Eating foods that are closest to their natural state as possible (for example brown rice is less processed and therefore more of a whole food than highly polished white rice) will lead to a more nutrient rich diet, which helps to provide your body with all of the essential ingredients it needs to function well. Whole foods don’t generally include ingredients your Great Granny wouldn’t have cooked with, and certainly don’t include the 6,500 food additives that are in processed foods these days (many don’t appear on labels or are sneakily being listed as seemingly innocent ingredients — Rosemary extract for example sounds great but in reality it is a preservative that has no relation to the herb; Yeast Extract is often MSG). Where possible, stick to natural whole foods that you or someone you know and trust has cooked.
My very own addition to the S.L.O.W diet is to also try and make your diet ‘rich in variety’ and rich in ‘vegetables’!
We can all get into food ruts that lead us to eat similar foods day in and day out. Variety can provide your body with a broader range of nutrients from which is can chose from in order to function more efficiently. Small steps are all that is needed, not a huge budget or expensive kitchen appliances just a little willingness to try a few things differently. And we all, nearly without exception, need to eat more vegetables. And that include our kids. One way to get them eating more is to get them helping out in preparing food — chopping salad ingredients for example, or washing and spinning lettuce dry. The most important thing, as we are reminded of often these days, is to avoid processed foods like the plague. In fact I would go as far as to say that processed foods are the Plague of our time. Make your kids’ snacks fresh fruit; serve them real bread from a bakery you know uses good ingredients; if possible buy organic dairy products; and you will all feel the benefits.
If you want to come and witness some S.L.O.W cooking for yourself, then come over for Rachel’s Cookery Demo in Organico Cafe on March 28 — Rachel will be demoing salads, raw treats and you can have a delicious lunch with us afterwards. The cost is €45 including lunch — sign up quick as places are limited!
Organico Shop Cafe and Bakery is open Monday to Saturday from 9.15am to 6pm. Please call us on 027 51391 (shop) or 55905 (cafe) or visit us online at www.organico.ie for more information. None of this information is intended to replace medical advice, so if you are on medication or are concerned at all about your health please consult a medical practitioner before taking any foods in medicinal quantities.