Attending a Slow Money event recently got me thinking about the Slow Food Movement and organization. I wondered about how tea fit into these two movements.
The Slow Food website answers the question of what Slow Food is as follows:
Slow Food is food that’s good for us, good for our environment and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it. In other words, food that is good, clean and fair. In many ways, Slow Food is the opposite of fast food. Slow Food is fresh and healthy, free of pesticides and chemicals, and produced and accessed in a way that’s beneficial to all – from the farmer to the eater.
So is Tea a Slow Food? According to that definition it can be. And it’s not THAT slow unless you are enjoying one of the more formal and ornate tea ceremonies.
In my opinion, a lot of tea is NOT Slow Food for various reasons. Agribusiness and the world commodity markets have pushed a majority of tea production into the use of pesticides and chemicals. Large estates in less than ideal terroirs tend to need pesticides for pests and chemicals to keep up production. And the poor working conditions on many estates, especially larger ones, are well documented. The distribution chains, many set up during colonial times or in a monopolistic way, eat up a lot of the money people are willing to pay for tea, ensuring that the farmers get pennies on the dollar. Marketing, profit, and consumer demand have made “ready to drink” (RTD) tea a hot sector.
But there certainly are Slow Food teas out there that meet the definition above. It’s well documented through thousands of years of use that tea is healthy and good for us. It can be grown without detrimental effects to the environment, as can be seen from wild trees, gardens, and estates that have been in production for hundreds of years. And, when grown, picked, and prepared by small farmers and artisanal teamakers, it can be good for the people involved as well, assuming that a more equitable distribution model allows them to reap more of the value of what they produce. The less people between the farmer and the drinker, the more chance that the farmers can earn a living, eat, and send his kids to school while preserving their land for future generations. So it can fit the definition of a Slow Food.
Coming back to the “slow” in Slow Food, the beauty of Slow Tea is that it can be prepared in all its glory in seconds or minutes depending on how you brew. So that ready-to-drink beverage isn’t saving you all that much time for the difference in quality (Unlike my Bolognese sauce, for instance, which takes two days to make vs. opening and heating up a jar of prepared sauce). Preparing and drinking tea lends itself to quiet contemplation and relaxing activities as well conversation between friends. So the importance of Slow Food in fostering connections is also there. In ayurvedic health circles, one is encouraged to eat foods that are prepared with love and avoid those prepared with resentment. We consume not only the food but also the emotions of the cook and preparers of that food.
So in the end, there is room for tea in both the commoditized, fast food market segments and the specialized Slow Food market segments. Where you choose to sip within that spectrum is up to you, your schedule, and your dharma.
Introduction to Āyurveda Workshop
Hosted by YOGASMOGA
Join Arya, as we explore the beginning principles of āyurveda, the natural, holistic and medicinal system of yoga. You will be able to perceive your internal & external environments from an ayurvedic perspective and create the optimal space for well being.
Tuesday, March 15th
Sip tea, enjoy light bites, and shop while you learn the key traits of your specific dosha through essential oils that you can use in your everyday life.
All guests will receive aromatherpay blends to balance their predominant dosha.
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