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Quickly Pass on Fast Food ... Then Slow Down 

Pass that burger and fries, please. And while you’re at it, throw in a slice of pizza and a couple of pieces of fried chicken. After all, eating fast food frequently can do only so much to you: Raise your blood pressure. Leave you bloated. Drive up your cholesterol. Contribute to digestive problems. Lead to weight gain. Drain your energy. Affect your mood. That was a list of potential hazards from the Cleveland Clinic. 

So, the habit one should be developing is to take a pass on the fast-food burger and fries and try eating healthier options. Think slow food. 

The slow-food concept started in Italy in 1986 when the opening of a fast-food restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome — which are about 300 years old — led to protests. Followers of the movement believe in using locally sourced ingredients and paying attention to the environment and local food and cooking traditions. The name was in response to the fast-food culture.      

At the 2024 Loomis Chaffee Reunion on the weekend of June 7–9 three alumni — Jamie Kennedy ’74, Corby Kummer ’74, and Terry Jacobs Walters ’84 — talked about “the power of food” in a June 8 session. Each has made a mark in the world of healthy eating. The panel was moderated by Deborah Sudarsky ’74.

According to Jamie’s bio on the Jamie Kennedy Kitchens website, the Canadian chef has helped pioneer “farm to table” practices across his country and “has applied the slow food philosophy in every aspect of his business.” He has earned many honors, including the rank of Member of the Order of Canada, defined as recognizing “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation.” 

Corby is executive director of Food & Society at the Aspen Institute, author of books including “The Pleasures of Slow Food,” recipient of six James Beard Journalism Awards, and senior lecturer at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science. The Aspen website says he is “one of the country’s most widely quoted experts on food justice and food culture in the United States.” 

Terry has been teaching plant-based cooking and wellness for over 20 years and has authored multiple cookbooks on the subject. She is a James Beard Foundation Award finalist and recipient of the Nautilus Gold and Silver Book Awards, according to her website. 

For all three, it is about much more than the food. It is about the people, supporting local agriculture and local food producers. It is about food sovereignty and food security. It is about the environment.  

As Terry said in the session, the slow food movement helped create awareness.  

“The way we produce food in this country, especially animal protein, is not sustainable,” she said.  

This, from a Scientific American article: “Producing a pound of steak generates nearly 100 times more greenhouse gas than an equivalent amount of peas, while cheese production emits eight times the volume of making tofu.” 

Corby also mentioned the carbon footprint involved in beef production and talked about his work at the Aspen Institute trying to move the food system toward sustainability and equity. Food & Society, according to the Aspen website, “brings together public health leaders, policymakers, researchers, farmers, chefs, food makers, and entrepreneurs to find practical solutions to food system challenges and inequities.”    

Terry also talked about mindfulness. “Where your food is coming from and how is it affecting your body. ... My goal is to empower people to make healthy choices and understand the impact on your health, on your community, on the land, and the environment.” 

Corby also made a point to say that one reason he will always buy organic food, even if it is more expensive, is his concern for the health of those who work in food production. Those working around organic food are not exposed to chemicals like others in the industry.  

After the session, Jamie said in an interview that his creative process as a chef involves being aware of his surroundings and how those surroundings inform his work. 

“My strongest beliefs are supporting local agriculture and food producers with the aim to involve and recognize the food culture of the area I live in,” he said. “When you embody those values, that can be transferred and played out anywhere in the world. We just have to discard our preconceived ideas of what gastronomy and food is, and look at it with fresh eyes.” 

Or, as he says, with an eye toward the past, “when communities depended on one another to survive. Everyone fulfilled a role that made sense for them.” 

That was before we landed in the fast lane of mass food production.  

“Sit back and enjoy where you are,” he said. “And slow down.” 


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