Slow food has become a popular term in the past few years, but apart from defining it as the opposite of fast food, what does it really mean?
Slow food covers all those methods of food preparation that have been around for as long as humans have hunted and gathered, and which are still practiced by indigenous cultures around the world. Slow food acknowledges the importance of making foods not only delicious but nourishing and digestible, using techniques such as soaking, sprouting, slow cooking and fermentation. These foods are ‘slower’ because they require time to effect important bio-chemical changes- but this doesn’t mean they have to be time-consuming. Some examples might be soaking cornmeal in lime juice in Mexican cooking, fermenting soybeans to make miso or natto in Japan, or making Injera- a sourdough flatbread- in Ethiopia. In Western industrialised countries most beans and grains are processed quickly without regard to their digestibility, and this can cause many health problems, contributing to gut and auto-immune conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease and allergies.
Slow cooking is one of the easiest first steps that people can take towards improving their digestion, and it’s cheap and surprisingly easy. Slow cookers can be bought online for under £30 and generally have several settings, or a timer. They can be prepped in the morning or night before, then left on all day while you are at work, greeting you when you come back with the wonderful aroma of home-cooked food. The benefits of a slow-cooked joint of meat are manifold: if you add some acidity to the mix (i.e. the juice of a lemon) animal bones release minerals into the broth, increasing the nutrient value. They also break down and release collagen and gelatin, both of which can heal and calm an inflamed gut. Soups, stews and slow-cooked meals hold a lot of water and are thus very soothing and hydrating: ideal food for growing children. Subsequent portions can be frozen and used again as stock for the next time.
I’ll also be discussing the benefits of soaking and fermenting. Both these techniques can help many health problems, as they transform problematic anti-nutrients, decrease irritation in the gut, and even feed the friendly bacteria. Since 80% of our immune system is based in the gut, it’s essential to maintain a good eco-system there. Many people eat live yoghurt or take probiotic supplements, but it is unclear whether these products retain their benefits once in the digestive tract. Even though probiotic supplements claim ‘millions’ of live cultures, this is still a drop in the ocean as far as your gut is concerned. Probiotic sauerkraut on the other hand can deliver billions of live cultures in one go!
So if you’re interested in some cheap and easy techniques to improve energy, digestion, allergies and overall robustness, without having to spend hours in the kitchen, this talk and demo (tasting at the end!) is a must.
Elizabeth Wells is a nutritionist and health writer living in Chorlton, Manchester. Find out more at www.naturallywells.com
Contact her or book a place at email@example.com or 07970 690233 – Quote Primal and receive the concessionary price of £7.