The Slow Food Movement might be new to you, but it has been around since the late eighties, first as a SLOCALgrassroots effort to move away from the increasing presence of fast food in the diets of working Italians and eventually in the US, where prominent localtarian proponents such as Michael Pollan and Alice Waters took up the cause of promoting a way of eating that was smarter and gentler on us and the planet.  

Slow Food promotes the idea that local, sustainably grown and homemade are always the best choices. If Nashville Master Gardeners Jami Anderson and Russell Kirchner have their way, it could be the approach we all take towards filling our plates and pantries.

Educating themselves about the true nature of mainstream corporate food production in this country inspired them to start producing their own food five years ago. As they learned how much of the value of real food is lost in the process, they began see the importance of local food production.

“Learning from many illuminating documentaries about the food industry (and reading enormous amounts about it as well) reinforced our desire to grow healthy fruits and vegetables that are pesticide-free, fresh, and have as much of their full complement of original nutrients as possible. Likewise, learning about the triggers of a fast-food diet to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease piqued our dedication to the slow-food movement. The continuing depletion of fossil fuels and air quality due to the transportation of food from far-off places to the table made us even more aware of the importance of growing food that is local.”

This was also the inspiration for the name and mission of their company. Slocal Foods is more than just a pretty herb stand situated among the vendors at the East Nashville Farmers Market. Of course you can get basil that will make your kitchen (not to mention your pesto,) smell like a little bit of culinary Nirvana and move on to the rest of your visit. Before you do, take a few minutes and look around. You’ll see herbs you might not recognize. You’ll see plants that, if you let them, will help turn your home into a greener and maybe tastier sanctuary. All that from a fresh sprig or a live plant?  Really?  

For you salt and pepper cooks, Anderson will attest that expanding your taste vocabulary can be daunting.  “…cooking with herbs can be intimidating to people who aren’t chefs and may not have even heard of some of them. That’s why we offer free recipes with the purchase of any herb that uses that herb as a main ingredient, fresh, dried, or live at our Farmers Market booth.” Still need some convincing? Take a look at one of the many recipes you’ll find this season at Slocal Foods. 

Aside from their interesting history and the sensory delight herbs offer, Anderson went on to explain why and Kirchner focused on herbs as part of their life work as teachers and activists for Slow Food: “Farmers markets are great resources for fruits and vegetables that are local but we noticed a gap in the supply of fresh herbs. You can buy some herbs at chain groceries but often they come in plastic (yuck) clamshells and sell for around $3 for just a few (often moldy) sprigs. Neither freshness nor quality is guaranteed in most instances. Selection is also limited to a few mainstream herbs as well. Our herbs are raised organically from seed in rich, composted soil right in our own backyard and we offer many herbs you won’t find for sale in a store.

See what they are offering each week at http://slocalfoods.com. Call Slocal at 615-480-5347 for restaurant herb supply accounts.

– Jas Faulkner

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