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By Richard McCarthy, Executive Director at Slow Food USA

The alternative food system is growing more mature. As a result, products and practices that once seemed marginal and obscure are now part of the revolution of everyday life. And yet, at Slow Food, we find that individuals and communities continue to cry out for better navigation. What to do, where to buy, and how to make. While it may seem intimidating to overturn our current system in one go, I encourage you to find incremental, yet emblematic steps to bring the change here and now to your lives. Here are five easy pieces to go slow:

1. Make your own salad dressing. Oil, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, honey and cracked black pepper in a mason jar; shake; and that’s it. To be honest, don’t even bother measuring. Learn how to improvise. You may not get it right the first time, but before long, you’ll be a first-rate saucier.

2. Grow mint. Yes, grow many fresh herbs if you have the space, the time and the green thumb. If not, at least purchase a small pot of mint and place it in a larger pot on your stoop, beneath your window unit, or anywhere you can easily reach. If it gets enough water, you’ll have an endless supply of mint for salads and pitchers of water. Your life will improve on this act alone.

3. Bring a senior to your farmers market. Don’t have a market yet? Find one near you. The USDA directory is a good place to start. Shopping the market with friends and family turns a drab chore into a social outing. Moreover, the senior in your life may actually know a thing or two about cooking. There are also great programs for senior nutrition in markets, most notably the Senior/FMNP.

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4. Give Meatless Monday a shot. We already eat too much meat. Rather than having the meat be the meal’s focus, simply use its flavor. Free yourself from the Madmen-era norm of a chunk of protein in the middle of a plate surrounded by a cast of supporting characters (commonly known as vegetables). To get things started, join in on Meatless Mondays. Go on, organize your Monday evening meal at home without meat. It doesn’t have to be tofu. There’s nothing wrong with Monday red beans and rice. It worked for Louis Armstrong.

5. If you’re a parent, bring your kids shopping. Again, it needn’t be a chore. Whether farmers market, close-out store, immigrant grocery, or your run-of-the-mill supermarket, it’s never too early to familiarize kids with the difficult choices they’ll have to make as adult consumers. Turn the visit into a scavenger hunt and search out the serious (GMO-free, Free Range, Organic, Fair Trade) and the fun (select a dessert with as few as two or three ingredients). Food is more than just fuel. The sooner your kids develop a love for food, the greater the likelihood they’ll start to run towards the good food.

Favorite dish I like to prepare for my family at home? During summer and early autumn, when the zucchini are plentiful, I am keen to serve them raw. Thinly sliced with a knife or mandolin, I marinate them in olive oil and the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and dried oregano. That’s it. The zucchini essentially cooks in the oil and lemon; and the squash meat gets soft and tasty. Delicious.