Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Slow Food, Local Food

Slow food is the opposite of fast food in all ways. Personally, I have widened that horizon to include everything that I call "manufactured food." And Alice Waters is a champion of the movement. Lots of people have been asking me if I happened to catch the 60 Minutes interview she did last week and the answer is: yes. I agree with everything she says.

Leader of the Slow Food movement, Alice Waters

The movement is clearly growing despite, or maybe because of, the bad economy. This year many people across the country will be turning to their own backyards as a food source in the same way so many Americans turned to their "Victory Gardens" during WWII by planting a vegetable garden. Let's face it, most of the stuff you buy at the supermarket is garbage. They have the nerve to bill it as fresh produce when it has been sitting in a truck or container for two weeks or more en route to the store. Because of this it has to be treated with tons of chemicals so it won't go bad.

Cattle is routinely injected with steroids to bulk them up and antibiotics to keep them healthy and we are ingesting it all. Chickens and other fowl are trapped in pens about the size of a one gallon milk container, deprived of any exercise, natural light or interaction with other birds. If you haven't had free range chicken lately go ahead and indulge. Chances are you will find it amazingly like "what chicken used to taste like." That is to say much better, more flavorful, less sinewy and tough.

It seems no wonder at all that local outdoor markets are thriving in cities and towns all across America. On my first trip to Europe this was one of the first things that struck me. The local markets were mobbed with people after work looking over the fresh produce and meats or cheeses they would use for dinner that night. No pallet sized boxes of frozen chicken tenders and other processed foods from Costco for these people. The whole approach to food was different. The very freshest local foods prepared simply with lots of fruits and vegetables served at every meal. I also noticed that they ate much smaller portions, favoring less quantity and more quality of flavor. Needless to say, I also noticed how most people were slim and fit.

You can watch the interview at this link: Alice Waters on 60 Minutes

It was announced this week that Michelle Obama has directed the very first vegetable garden to be planted on the White House grounds this year. Congratulations Alice Waters for having your wish finally come true! It's about time.

We caught up with Blair Baldwin, the creator of, this week to talk about the launch of his new site for local connections. The social networking website is all about matching up foodies and home chefs. From freshly baked cookies to fully prepared meals, Cookum helps find that special item just like grandma used to make, even if grandma isn't around anymore. With restaurant dining clearly in decline we think it just might be the next wave of the new economy. You can get the same high quality fare ... you just pick it up at your neighbor's house for a fraction of the cost of dining out. It's sort of like Etsy for foodies, all done at the neighborhood level.

New economies bring new opportunities and we think this one is going to be a hit as more people turn to local food. In beta testing now in the Boston area, the transaction numbers have been growing and plans are to eventually roll it out across the country. The site will also include ratings and reviews and a forum to network with other food lovers in your area. Great idea Blair!


  1. As an active user, I am so glad to see this awesome site highlighted! I have used Cookum to purchase everything from homemade cookies for work potluck events to full meals for dinner parties that I have hosted. Hooray for local cooks and foodies!

  2. Blair found me (a cookie baker) elsewhere on the web and invited me to the Cookum site. I think it is such a great idea and hopefully will catch on as the word gets out.

  3. This is a great site -- I've already used it once and got a delicious Turkish meal. Definitely check it out if you want to try different types of homemade food in your area!

  4. It's amazing to see how many cooks are posting on the site right now! This is such a large market, and there are so many people who are not happy with the current offerings. Go Blair.