Natural Perspectives: Life in the slow lane

September 26, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Slow Food USA picnic in Bommer Canyon in Irvine. Margaret Carlberg made the centerpiece of a pumpkin with succulents.
Slow Food USA picnic in Bommer Canyon in Irvine. Margaret… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

Vic and I had "slow food" this past week at two events. One was the annual Harvest Potluck by the Huntington Beach Community Garden. The other was the annual picnic in Bommer Canyon in Irvine put on by the Orange County chapter of Slow Food U.S.A. We attended the latter event with Dave and Margaret Carlberg.

Slow food is the opposite of fast food. It is food that is cooked from scratch and savored with family or friends instead of mass-prepared food that is ordered at a drive-thru window and eaten on the run in the car.

I have been a member of Slow Food U.S.A. for a number of years and really enjoy their emailed newsletter, but this is the first event that Vic and I have attended. It certainly won't be the last.

Slow Food International was founded in 1989 in Italy, in part in opposition to the inexorable spread of fast food and, with it, the hectically-paced life that plagues modern life. There are things in life that need to be taken slowly, and food is one of them. Food should be savored and appreciated, not just bolted down. It should be attractive and nourish our souls as well as our bodies. But there are other, loftier goals of the Slow Food organization, not just personal ones, but societal.


Slow Food aficionados care where their food comes from, how it is grown, and how food choices affect the environment and the world around us. Sustainability of food supply is a major goal.

The menu at the Slow Food picnic in Bommer Canyon was a prime example of the principles of Slow Food. The appetizer was a choice of oysters on the half shell with a spicy wash, or grilled oysters with nicoise butter, basil and tomato relish. The oysters were farmed at Carlsbad Aquafarm and were both locally grown and sustainably farmed.

The picnic tables were set with centerpieces of late summer fruit, which exemplifies eating locally grown foods that are in season, rather than food that was shipped across the equator. The fruit was accompanied by baguettes from the OC Baking Company and the most delicious goat cheese spread that I've ever eaten. The cheese was a goat cheese from Drake Family Farms in Ontario, Calif.

In keeping with foods that were in season, the salad was watermelon, tomato, mint feta and cucumber with onion vinaigrette. Side dishes were grilled heirloom potatoes with bacon, garlic, onions and marjoram, as well as buttered corn with parsley, garlic and a hint of chile.

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