As executive director of Slow Food USA, Richard McCarthy promotes the organization’s mission to inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean, and fair for all. Below, McCarthy, who will also speak at the 2016 JBF Food Conference, shares five simple tips to help you “go slow” in everyday life while also promoting a better food system.
1. Make your own salad dressing.
Throw oil, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, honey, and cracked black pepper in a mason jar; shake, and that’s it. Don’t even bother measuring. You may not get it right the first time, but before long, you’ll be a first-rate saucier.
2. Grow mint.
You should grow many fresh herbs if you’ve got the space, the time, and the green thumb. At the very least, purchase a small pot of mint and place it in a larger pot on your stoop, beneath your window, or anywhere you can reach easily. If it gets enough water, you’ll have an endless supply of mint for salads and pitchers of water. Your life will improve on this act alone.
3. Bring a senior to your farmers’ market.
Shopping the market with friends and family turns a drab chore into a social outing. Moreover, the senior in your life may actually know a thing or two about cooking. There are also great programs for senior nutrition in markets, most notably the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
4. Give Meatless Monday a shot.
We already eat too much meat. Free yourself from the Mad Men–era norm of a chunk of protein surrounded by a cast of supporting characters. To get things started, join in on Meatless Mondays. Organize your Monday-evening meal at home without meat. It doesn’t have to be tofu. There’s nothing wrong with Monday red beans and rice. It worked for Louis Armstrong.
5. Bring your kids on a food-shopping adventure.
It needn’t be a chore. Whether at a farmers’ market or your run-of-the-mill grocery store, it’s never too early to familiarize kids with the difficult choices they’ll have to make as adult consumers. Turn the visit into a scavenger hunt and search out the serious (GMO-free, free range, organic, fair trade) and the fun (a dessert with as few as two or three ingredients). The sooner your kids develop a love for food, the greater the likelihood they’ll start to run toward the good stuff.
And finally, here's one of my favorite autumnal recipes: chestnut soup. I get inspired to make it whenever I stumble upon roasted chestnuts on Manhattan corners (though they are disappearing) just as much as I do when on sale in 99-cent stores in the cryovac packages. It’s easy and so rich.
Purchase 2-3 dozen fresh chestnuts, score and roast, peel.
Sauté in a pot with Ghee, chopped onions, salt and pepper.
Deglaze the pot with sherry; and then fill up the pot with water.
Simmer forever; hand blend hot; or cool and then throw into a food processor.
The soup should be golden with pieces of chestnuts but also quite milky as the nuts dissipate into the soup.
Serve hot with fresh parsley; and ample bread for dipping. That's it!
In anticipation of our upcoming JBF Food Conference, we're looking through the lens of our recently launched JBF Impact Programs, which aim to promote a sustainable food system through education, advocacy, and thought leadership.
See all JBF Impact content.