• Kogileswary

Aware of Food Ethics whether Slow food or Fast food

Writer : Kogileswari Vellisamy

Editor : Danial Haziq



"The greatest wealth is health," the Roman poet Virgil invented the phrase which perfectly defines how fundamental well-being is to human pleasure and wealth" over 2,000 years ago. Even though the phrase is invented, it has not been applicable in this era whereas World Health Organization (WHO) stated in a report that Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, are on the rise; cardiovascular illnesses account for the majority of NCD deaths (17.9 million people per year), followed by malignancies (9.3 million), respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (1.5 million).


Our health is directly related to what we consume. Considering this in light of Webster's definition of medicine: "the science and art of maintaining health and preventing, alleviating, or curing disease." Food serves as medicine and helps to sustain, prevent, and treat disease. The research is clear: eating appropriate meals could help you live longer and has a healthier life. However, for a variety of reasons, some people find it more difficult to eat healthily.


Researchers have become more interested in lifestyle as a key component in health in recent decades. According to the WHO, 60% of the factors affecting individual health and quality of life are connected to lifestyle. Millions of individuals live unhealthy life. Fast Life interrupts our habits, invades our privacy, and compels us to eat fast foods and as a result, individuals suffer from disease, incapacity, and even death.


Fast food is a global phenomenon that most people are acquainted with, which becomes a major barrier to leading a healthy lifestyle. Fast food is commonly defined as food that is intended to be consumed rapidly, either on- or off-site. There is an abundance of well-researched information proving the numerous harmful health implications of consuming and overeating fast food, both in the short and long term.


Fast food is a mass-produced food that is intended to be served quickly. It is designed to be made and consumed rapidly, frequently on the move through drive-thrus, delivery, and take away. It is inexpensive and convenient to eat, but it's not always good for ourselves or for the environment. Fast food is associated with volume, speed and cheapness; McDonald's, KFC, Texas Chicken, Subway, Domino's, Burger King, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and so on are among the most well-known fast-food companies.


Many fast-food restaurants now indicate the number of calories in each item. However, this is only one aspect of determining whether it is healthy or not. Fast food is often low in nutritional value. However, not all fast food is bad, and we may make an informed decision by examining the nutritional composition of certain fast-food items. This information is available on the websites of the majority of large eateries. Advertisements and celebrity endorsements of items are more likely to impact young people. Fast-food advertising, for example, triggers extremely sensitive and still-developing circuits in the brains of adolescents. According to a Trusted Source assessment (2015), fast food contains a variety of harmful ingredients. It contains a lot of sugar, salt, saturated and trans fats, and a lot of processed preservatives, and additives and also lacks several important nutrients.


Dr Hanni explained that “fast food is heavy in salt, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, calories, preservatives and products that have been processed. In the short term, fast food affects blood sugar and blood pressure, promotes inflammation, and may indicate that an individual is not getting enough nutrition. In the long term, a fast-food diet may cause problems with digestion, immunity, inflammation, heart health, obesity, and other difficulties. However, not all fast food is harmful. Certain menu items may include less of these drugs than others, and some fast-food restaurants may prioritise providing healthier selections”.


Slow food, on the other hand, is less widely recognised but it is more than just the reverse of fast food, as the term implies. The slow food movement pushes for more than just being mindful of what we eat. The movement viewed itself as an antithesis of fast-food culture, microwave cooking, and grab-and-go meals of the time. It provides an alternative to today's fast-paced lifestyle by incorporating the concept behind why and how we should eat by offering knowledge on obtaining food, cooking methods, and the beneficial social components of eating and sharing a meal.


Slow food is a set of ideas intended to counteract the negative impacts of quick eating. Its whole ethos revolves around the concept of "having a leisurely life, beginning at the table." Slow Food was founded in Italy in 1986 and has since expanded to over 83,000 members in 122 countries.


How did the movement begin?


Carlo Petrini noticed in 1986 that a proposed fast-food restaurant in Rome's Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps constituted a danger to the trattoria and osteria culture. Carlo gathered his activist friends to fight for regional customs, fine cuisine, culinary enjoyment, and a slower pace of life. Instead of hurling rocks and screaming, they brought a large bowl of penne pasta and divided it with the assembled throng, saying, "We don't want fast food; we want Slow Food". The international Slow Food movement was formally launched in 1989 in Paris, France, with the signing of the Slow Food Manifesto.


What is slow food?


Slow Food is hard to define, and for good reason: it is a complex idea entwined with a massive social movement that has been translated into many nations and cultures throughout the world. Slow Food envisions a food system founded on the values of high quality and flavour, environmental sustainability, and social justice - in other words, a decent, clean, and fair food system. It aims to shift our culture away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and fast life, and toward the regenerative cultural, social, and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, including regional food traditions, table pleasures, and a slower, more harmonious rhythm of life. The significant use of regional and local produce, traditional farming and cooking methods, and sharing the enjoyment of properly and slowly prepared and cooked dishes in the company of people are among the fundamental qualities it promotes and supports, all of which cultivate a healthy mind and body.


However, its mandate also includes the preservation of regional and cultural foods and ingredients like plants, seeds, and domestic animals through programmes like taste education, as well as assistance to those who want to source and promote traditional, local high-quality food that is more nourishing and tastier than fast food. Eating leisurely food and adopting a slow food social mindset can enhance both physical and mental health far more than a fast-food diet. Fast food restaurants, for instance in the United States, encourage their customers to buy "Supersize," which has contributed to the problem of obesity, which raises the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, blood disorders, and joint difficulties.


“Probably Slow Food practitioners share one trait: an intense desire for genuinely wonderful food. They all have a real curiosity about where it comes from, who grows it, and what culture it symbolises. People have joined the rising movement because they are sick of purchasing the same products, eating the same foods, and living the same lifestyles.


Fast food is frequently consumed in a hurry, which is both anti-social and detrimental to digestion. Slow cooking transforms a meal into a wonderful occasion. People have time to relax and talk while the food is being prepared, and the discussion continues long after the dinner is over” said Johnathan, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Community Health, UPM.


Sustainability is ultimately about preserving the earth's resources, but also the joy and quality of everyday living, which we can all sense is dwindling. This may be accomplished by slowing down, honouring table customs, and savouring the diversity of the earth's richness. How do you "go slow"?


Generally, each and every food consumer has to enjoy their meals after knowing where their food comes from and make sure it's great nutritional value because slow food is created from the freshest, local products and vegetables (typically organic, therefore free of synthetic chemicals).


“Many individuals are astonished to hear that eating slowly might help them lose weight. The conditioned behaviour of eating until we are full is a complicated process that is affected by how many times we chew, how long we eat, and how much food we eat. Most individuals discover that if we chew and eat more slowly, and spend more time at the table, it takes less food to feel full” Johnathan added.


Furthermore, sharing makes meals more delightful. Mealtimes have always been a time for people to get together and bond rather than merely share a meal. This results in tighter friendships and family ties that are happier as a result of the sharing.


“Eating slowly allows us to taste more. Fast food is supposed to be consumed fast, which is why the flavours are concentrated. However, the flavour is fleeting and ultimately disappointing. Slow food, on the other hand, is produced with the highest quality ingredients and produce that is bursting with natural flavours. We encounter more flavours, textures, and scents when we eat leisurely in calm conditions, and we get a new appreciation for our food.


What we eat on a daily basis has an impact on our health and how it makes us feel now and in the future. A good diet is essential for leading a healthy lifestyle. When paired with physical exercise, a nutritious diet may help us to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, lower our risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, and enhance overall health and well-being” Brenda Chan, BSc Nutrition and Dietetics, explained.


It may appear that completely avoiding fast foods is unattainable. They are a widespread and important component of modern civilization. However, in rare circumstances, complete abstinence from particular trigger foods may be required. Once we make the solid commitment to never consume these foods again, avoiding them may become simpler since the need to justify eating — or not eating — they are gone. Cravings may also fade or diminish dramatically.


Developing and sustaining good eating habits does not have to be difficult. Small adjustments in everyday behaviours may have a major influence on our eating patterns and help us to develop long-term, healthy eating habits. Eat healthily, and live longer.


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