Since grassroots organization Slow Food was founded 21 years ago, “slow food” has been coined as a term that describes good food that is sourced with consideration and carefully prepared with respect for the ingredients and the final product. As food production has become increasingly industrialized and fast food has become the norm, more and more people are beginning to worry about the effects that may have on the health of the environment, their communities, and themselves.
According to the Slow Food Website, the organization was founded to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” Thanks to the slow food mentality, restaurants that source locally, use fresh sustainably grown ingredients and prepare delicious food from scratch have been popping up all over the place.
Up to this point, however, the slow food movement has been characterized primarily by high-end restaurants that most people can not afford to frequent on a regular basis, or even at all. People continue to eat many of their meals at fast food restaurants, where they feel at ease in a casual setting, and can eat quickly and at a low-cost. But, what if the two did not have to be mutually exclusive? What if we could order our food at a counter, pay a reasonable price, and still be confident in the way it was sourced and prepared?
Fortunately, we are at the height of what I believe is a growing “slow-food fast-food” movement, in which this vision is becoming a reality. Fast food restaurants that follow the slow food model are beginning to break down the elitism typically associated with the slow food movement. In my opinion, it is an important step in making healthy food that supports local producers accessible to everyone.
In December, Ann Arbor chef Eve Aronoff opened Frita Batidos, a casual dining establishment, where customers order burger-esque “fritas” and other creative Cuban-inspired delicacies at a counter and sit at communal picnic tables while they wait. Everything at Frita Batidos is prepared in-house from scratch and sourced from local farmers whenever possible. Dishes average at about $7 or $8, my personal favorite being the coconut ginger rice with black beans, muenster cheese, and cilantro lime salsa for a reasonable $6.
Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn sources from primarily local producers and supports complete food transparency by providing a list of the sources of every ingredient to customers. Burgers range from $6 to $9 and hot dogs will only cost you about $5.
Local is a family owned fast-food restaurant in Northampton, MA that aims to provide fresh, delicious, and well-priced food, while supporting the community through the use of local produce, products, and services. Local’s burgers cost between $5 and $7, and Northampton resident Leanna First-Arai proclaims that they have the best veggie burgers in the world.
Back in Ann Arbor, Grange Kitchen & Bar just announced an exciting new event all month long in February. Join Grange as they take on fast food classics, slow food style. Weekly specials all month long feature housemade, sustainably raised, and locally grown products. You’re not going to want to miss these made-from-scratch, fast food favorites from Chef Brandon and his team – check out the special menu on Real Time Farms here (Under “Fast Food Slow in February)!
Look out for more slow-food fast-food joints on Real Time Farms in the future!