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Living the Slow Life in Calabria

Every day, I marvel at how much my life has changed.

It's not that I was one of those Americans who's a slave to work, putting 80 hours a week into a job I hate, never feeling like I have enough time to do the things I love. I had a great life in San Diego, with plenty of leisure time.

But, like most Americans, I was a slave to convenience. Why cook from scratch when I can buy a prepared meal? Why reheat on the stove when I have a microwave?

Life in Calabria has shown me the benefits of slowing way, way, WAY down.

The Benefits of Slowing Down

I've written before about my appreciation for the connection to the land that the Calabrese have. How nothing goes to waste, and everything's fresh.

Now that spring has sprung, I'm finding another connection to the land through plants, flowers, and herbs. I've long been interested in how plants can be used as medicine, and now that I'm surrounded by them, my curiosity is at an all-time high!

This weekend, I went on an excursion with a friend who has studied plants and their medicinal benefits. We spent hours in a field, which, to the untrained eye, seemed pretty devoid of anything interesting.

But when we slowed down and really saw what was around us, it was amazing how much life there was.

We learned about mallow, calendula, and mugwort, among other plants and herbs. We learned what we could eat, and what went great in a frittata (acacia flowers, if you're curious)!

All spring, I've been collecting armfuls of flowers (weeds, some might call them) every time I go for a walk. It was exciting to realize that much of what I've collected can be medicinal or just tasty!

The Bigger Lesson

A new friend is moving here in a few months (hey girl!). She listed all the things she wanted to bring: her VitaMix, microwave, etc. I laughed sagely and told her she wouldn't need any of them. Or she could buy them if she was really fiending.

The microwave-owning person I was two years ago no longer exists. She's been replaced by a calmer, slightly more patient woman who asks questions about where her food comes from and who slurps up the nutrients and magic that come from eating food that is locally--and I mean LOCALLY--produced.

The lesson here for me is to let go of convenience when it's not serving me. There is health and sustainability in living close to the land, the way we do here in Italy.

Life in Calabria: Know Your Food

I eat fresh eggs from Fra's family chickens. Sometimes one of those chickens is sacrificed to make a great meal. I use olive oil from our family land (I'm just taking ownership of all the goodies from here on out, m'kay?). In a few weeks, I'll help Zio Fernando plant a crap ton of tomato plants, and we will eat those all summer. We're already enjoying fava beans and peas from the family garden. Friends are constantly bringing oranges, loquats, onions, and other goodies from their trees and farms.

There's something so wonderfully wholesome about knowing where your food comes from. It's one of my favorite things about living in Calabria!

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