18 April 2012

A Slow Journey...

My travel arrangements for the Slow Food Congress in Louisville were probably easier than anyone else who attended, other than the kind and very hospitable folks of Slow Food Bluegrass. What an incredible gift to be only a couple hours away from such a great hub of Slow Food activity! And while the bus ride over my Indiana terrain, which is often described as "flat and boring", was uneventful, inside I was experiencing an emotional roller coaster.

Falling into the trap of "fast living" and modern society, I had formerly grown numb to the natural beauty that is all around me as I traveled the roads and highways of Indiana, but something about today was different. Perhaps it was the just right light of an afternoon sun lingering in the sky before making its slow descent and yielding into evening, combined with my head which was buzzing with all things Slow Food. All I wanted was to sit and experience, enjoy that moment. I suddenly saw these flat and boring fields, farms, and gardens as beautiful, something natural and nourishing and wonderful in their own way. I knew that soon these bare brown dirt rows would be speckled with green, as vines and sprouts began stretching their way out of the ground, reaching for that same sun that was now painting such a beautiful landscape for me. I wondered how I had not seen all the vast potential and nourishment that was right there in front of me all along.

In the middle of this private moment of awe and appreciation, I suddenly felt a queasy pit in my stomach, but it was not from the rocking and swaying of the bus as it ambled toward our destination. I remembered how I had heard that much of the corn grown in my great state is not even for human consumption. I thought of how it might be fed to animals who are not designed to digest it, or perhaps turned into high fructose corn syrup, something designed for us which we would be better not to digest. I also thought of the soybeans that would be grown here and turned into a base for a multitude of processed and manufactured foods, bearing no resemblance to their original or natural form.

This was already disappointing, but then my gut took another drop as if the bus had just jumped a small ramp, when I thought of all the other people who were filling up this bus. The person to my left was using an e-reader, behind me someone was staring at a smartphone, and most were simply asleep or just tuned out to the world. I wondered if they even noticed the land, and if they did were they inspired, sickened, or bored as I had once been?

At this point I chuckled at myself, realizing that my mind is not a bison and thus should not be allowed to roam free in this manner! I could hardly judge the people around for being immersed in technology, reading, or just resting. They were dealing and coping with the world in the best way that they knew, taking advantage of the tools, gadgets, and time killers our society has come up with. Their minds were not reeling because they had decided to occupy their brains otherwise, or perhaps turn them off for a short time. And I remembered that change always begins with awareness. Awareness such as the moment I realized I huffed and puffed every time I took the stairs which changed my weight by 40 pounds. When awakened to the world or a particular pain in it, humans become inevitably motivated to do something about it.

All of my fellow congress members, along with each of you reading this, and Slow Food members everywhere have become awake to the problem of our broken food system. You were not forced to this agenda but came to it on your own when you were ready, or had a personal experience. In order for true change to happen, others must also become aware of what we in the Slow Food movement know. Unfortunately you can no more force a philosophy on others than they could force a Big Mac on you. But when faced with passion and singularity of purpose, others cannot help but notice your energy and wonder where it comes from. So share your experience, let your passion shine as the light of the afternoon sun, so as to illuminate the path for others who WILL come when they are ready, one person at a time.

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