Slow Living Takes Time

Err, kind of obvious I know, but then on the other hand maybe not quite so obvious.

Take shopping for example. Where I live there are 2 great weekend markets. One on Saturday, the other Sunday. The Saturday market has a large number of stalls from farm fresh vegetables to home baked bread and cakes to hand made sausages and pies. Lots of yummy food there! The Sunday market is similar, except it is mostly organic, and vegetarian. One is about 6 miles from us, the other maybe 12 or so.

On the other hand there is a small supermarket 3 minutes away by bike, and a large ‘all singing, all dancing’ supermarket 10 minutes away by bike, and about 5 by car.

Using the large supermarket I can get the weeks shopping done in an hour from door to door. I can write a list of everything I need for the weeks planned meals, and be confident of getting it all. And then that is that boring job done for the week. I can even top up during the week, if necessary, using the bike and the local supermarket.

Using the farmers markets, I have to drive (although I could cycle to the nearer one, the route is busy and currently unpleasant due to major roadworks). I can take a list with me, and I may, or may not get what I have decided upon. As the food is fresh and normally in its original state, I cannot expect it to last all week, unless I process it at home afterwards, by cooking or freezing it.

So by using the supermarket I can be done with a tedious chore for the whole week inside an hour…maybe an hour and a half if we include putting everything away when I get home. This leaves me the rest of the day to spend my time doing what I want.

Using the farmers market means dedicating the entire day to shopping and food preperation and preservation.

But then, at the supermarket I speak to no-one except maybe the cashier…with a conversation that rarely runs to more than “How has your day been?” “Fine, thank you”. The food is often highly processed, contains weird ingredients with very long names or strange code numbers, and wrapped in non recyclable packaging. As it has to last the week it will include pre frozen items as well as canned items.

At the farmers markets, however, things are very different. A stop at the vegetable stall includes a chat about the weather this week and how it has affected the crops. Also a tip that asparagus is almost over so I had better make the most of it this week. As I move onto the bread stall another conversation leads to a great new recipe. It’s a hot day, so I stop for a fresh juice at the juice bar and catch up on the events of the week with a fellow runner who staffs the stall. I meet a friend and we pass the time of day. She tells me about a new stall around the back which is selling home grown and dried herbs and spices including some really great new mixes.

The produce is packed directly into my own re-usable bags, or packed in plain brown paper bags. There is very little waste and almost everything is fresh or minimally processed. If anything  is processed, take those spice mixes for example, a chat with the stall holder will reveal not only the ingredients but the full details of the processing, enabling me to choose what I want to buy.

So choices have to be made. In my case I think I prefer the farmers markets and the fresh produce, even though I have to travel further to get there. But some weeks I need my time for other things and off to the supermarket I go.

For slow living, of course, there is no choice to be made. Food grown with love and care by small producers, bought from a friendly thriving local market, and then carefully prepared at home is the very essence of slow living. What can be more important than the food we nourish ourselves with every day?

Yet it takes time. And, as we all know, time is the one thing we cannot get more of. We all have the same 24 hours a day to spend, and we must therefore spend it wisely. Slow living takes time. Lots of it.

And that can be hard to justify in todays fast paced world.

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