Jim Shade might have been the only one of his university friends whose mother sent him organic tomatoes in care packages. As an interior design student in Chicago, Shade was far from his family’s nearly 200-year-old farm and rural home in Missouri, and he couldn’t find produce in the city that compared in taste. It seems now, however, that here in Oak Cliff he is back to his roots. Shade’s upbringing made him exceedingly interested in food and cooking, so it comes as no surprise that when he discovered Slow Food five years ago, it was a perfect fit. Slow Food U.S.A. is a movement that aims to bring attention to local farmers so community members will begin to support growing in their own area. The organization has 225 chapters across the country, and Shade serves as co-leader of the Dallas chapter. Almost 50 local farmers, cheese-makers, bakers and ranchers contribute to the movement in Dallas, and Oak Cliff restaurants Bolsa, Smoke, Lucia and Oddfellows have received the Slow Food Dallas’ “red snail,” which declares they are a bona fide Slow Food restaurant. With the high cost of organic food and the spontaneity that comes with relying on local goods, the upkeep of a slow food restaurant is often hard to maintain. Chefs and owners have to be flexible because their menu will change frequently. “Food changes with the calendar,” Shade says. ”But to me, that is part of the fun of Slow Food.” Shade says he believes the movement is important because organic farming is beneficial to the soil, plants, animals and the climate. Plus, consuming organically grown produce is good for health. “Do you want to spend your money on food or medical care?” Shade asks. “I haven’t had to use my health insurance in 10 years.”
For more information, visit slowfooddallas.com
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