What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, September 28, 2007 by Website Administrator
Tell that to Arkansas:
The Slow Food perspective is that a lifestyle shift is needed — one that involves stopping to smell the basil. Instead of grabbing a burger at a drive-through, and eating on-the-go, we will have more fun and advance sustainability at the same time if we get to know our farmers and buy local food, support local food traditions and heritage agricultural varieties and breeds, and re-establish meals as social events. Ozark Slow Food wants to both celebrate and promote local food and good eating.
The Fayetteville Free Weekly goes on to say…
The Slow Food movement reached Northwest Arkansas before the name did. Although some people still believe that fruit and vegetable production departed this region many years ago, today a dozen farmers' markets are operating in NWA. And the number of markets, growers, and shoppers continues to rise. Increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables comes at the right time. Concerns about obesity among all age groups in Arkansas is encouraging more people to eat more fruits and vegetables, and none are better than those eaten fresh from local farms.
And local chefs and food lovers are in on it too:
One of those chefs is Vince Pianalto. "I have always been a fan of the Slow Food movement as long as I have been in the foodservice business," Pianalto said. "I was bolstered by the attendance at the first Slow Food event at my bakery in June, but never imagined the response. I expected around 50 people when over 130 arrived. Wow! Northwest Arkansas is obviously ready for a chapter of Slow Food."
Posted on Wed, September 26, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
A bike trip along the river Po sounds like a picturesque way to spend a few weeks on holiday. But what if this were school? What if your gastronomy professor were on the bike next to you, and the delicious local meals you stopped to enjoy were coursework?? For many of us, the prospect of biking along the aquatic lifeline of Italy, learning about the river, and the food traditions in the community along it, sounds like a terrific break from work, but for students at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, it IS work (schoolwork, that is).
The University of Gastronomic Sciences was founded by Slow Food in 2003 to offer the first ever gastronomic degree. Continuing in this trailblazing tradition, the students and teachers of the University have just embarked on an innovative 3 week, 650 km trip along the Po to examine how the river is changing due to environmental impact, and climate change. Read more about the trip here, and here.
Posted on Wed, September 26, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
In the 2 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Slow Food leader/enthusiast/activist Poppy Tooker has been fighting hard to revive New Orleans food communities. One such community is the East New Orleans Vietnamese community, that is home to an outstanding farmers' market that is held at the crack of dawn every Saturday morning. Instrumental in the rebuilding of this market has been Father Vien thé Nguyen, who is the pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church there.
In April of 2007, at a Vietnamese brunch, Poppy presented the church with $5,000 from Slow Food USA's Terra Madre Relief Fund, to go towards rebuilding the market and community garden there. Click here to watch a short video of the brunch, which includes some great footage of delicious, homemade Vietnamese food.
Also interesting: from the Southern Foodways Alliance website, an interview with Peter Nguyen, the manager of the community garden and farmers' market.
Posted on Mon, September 24, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Any regular frequenter of restaurants knows that the fish we eat are subject to trends. For stretches of time certain fish will be "go-to" foods, and then suddenly they're gone, replaced by something else. One day "Chilean Sea Bass" (actually Patagonian Toothfish, a less sexy name) started appearing on menus. And less than 10 years later, many chefs banded together to take it OFF their menus since it had been overfished, practically into extinction.
Once upon a time, people ubiquitously ate canned sardines. By the 1950's, they had been replaced by canned tuna. What ever happened to sardines?
In his article in the Atlantic Monthly, Slow Food advisory board member Corby Kummer goes in search of fresh sardines, and does taste tests of canned ones. He explores the demise of sardine populations and the resulting shuttering of cannery row in Monterey.
The article is interesting on many fronts. As we study and fret about the collapse of bee populations, maybe there is a lesson here in population ebbs and flows? Also good for chefs to think about reintroducing sardines onto menus–the populations are healthy again, and need not only be used as food for larger fish, such as tuna. Kummer argues for their health benefits, sustainability, and ultimately, deliciousness. A perfect slow food…
Posted on Fri, September 21, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
While some may wax nostalgic over the peculiar texture found only in the salisbury steak of our formative years, two self-proclaimed "angry" moms are doing more than their part to save the school lunch from its current state of despair. After being banned from her daughter's school cafeteria, where the only fresh, whole foods were found in home-packed, insulated totes, Susan Rubin and her pal Amy Kalafa embarked on a mission to educate and inspire those who remain at the frontline of the school food crisis: the moms. They have used film as their medium (a hybrid expose/how-to) to look inside the perilous system and highlight the potential positive ripple-effect that only a home-grown, truly reformed, nutritious school food menu could have. While the film is temporarily caught in distribution deals, the moms encourage all who support the fight for a "slow" school menu and healthier kids to host a screening in their community, getting folks appropriately "angry" and inspired for change.
Details on the message and the movement, along with great resources to get started on your own uprising can be found on their website.
For a concise assessment of the dismal school lunch situation and how it got that way, see Tom Philpott's article in Grist.
Posted on Wed, September 19, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
After all of these months of reading and learning, and rallying and writing, it's hard not to be discouraged by the Farm Bill. A disappointingly familiar version passed in the House this summer, and now the Farm Bill is hanging out in the Senate, a place where (a cynic might say) good ideas go to die.
We here at Slow Food USA are committed to looking at the bright side, so here is a list of (fewer than) 101 reasons not to be discouraged:
1. It still truly is up in the air (otherwise known as "it ain't over 'til it's over").
2. It is not too late to write to your Senators to explain your priorities.
3. Did you even know what The (Food and) Farm Bill was 2 years ago? We, as a nation, as a group of Slow Food-ists, have educated ourselves, and well!
4. We are building knowledge and momentum for the NEXT one. In Washington, thinking ahead is important.
For Food Security updates, click here
For Nutrition updates, click here
For Conservation and Energy updates, click here
Posted on Sat, September 15, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Renee Ciulla, an organic farmer in Montana, has written an interesting and well researched piece on NewFarm.org on the Slow Food Movement, inspired in part by her trip to see founder Carlo Petrini speak in San Francisco on the topic of his book, Slow Food Nation. It does a fine job of covering the history and current mission of the Movement:
The Slow Food movement was founded in 1986 by an enraged Carlo Petrini after McDonalds attempted to open a franchise in Rome. With more than 80,000 members in 50 countries, the movement has secured a firm place in the world. Slow Food helps redefine people as "co-producers" rather than "consumers," showing how the choices about what we eat give us a role in the food system and puts us side-by-side with farmers in many ways.
Slow Food's international role has grown far beyond the pursuit of great taste and into the realm of making ours a better world, starting at home. Slow Food USA, founded in 2000, has been both revered and attacked by farmers and the general public. Consider this piece an invitation to join me as I delve into various views regarding Slow Food USA's effectiveness in connecting to small-scale farmers and the various convivia representing their local regions. As an American organic farmer and Slow Food (SF) member, I represent both sides equally with hopes of generating healthy discussion on the topic.
And delve she does, but only skimming the surface of what I consider to be the most important single issue facing the Movement in the USA:
Szanto believes the major flaw of Slow Food is ironically its great strength: its universally accessible brand with access for producers, processors, consumers, community organizers and activists, alike. Szanto views these many entry points as necessary for Slow Food, which believes in using cross-disciplinary action to bring about change; people want to be aware of food's taste, history, environmental impact, anthropological significance, production techniques, economics and nutritional benefits, he said. "You would also want people in places with wildly different food cultures to connect to a common cause and direction, so it does have to have a pretty wide and loose brand. That means at the local level, Slow Food looks different from place to place as convivia approach food through taste education, producer concerns or fancy food."
Szanto emphasized that it would be wrong to take the Italian Slow Food model and force-fit it onto the U.S. "One of the problems with food culture in the U.S.—aside from separate and simultaneous overemphasis on nutrition and convenience—is the focus on fancy food and food elitism. Good food becomes an aspect of consumerism, rather than about environmentalism, tradition or social justice. We are, after all, a highly consumerist society, and until that changes, food will remain a subset of that culture." There are really two Slow Food movements operating in the U.S., Szanto offered in wrapping up our conversation: the national leadership with its overarching culture, and the collectivized organization embodying a mosaic of cultures.
Szanto has a point. But the real issue is in that perception of elitism, an image almost impossible to shed in our culture once you are tagged with it. Sow Food's been tagged and it truly pins my ears back when I hear it because it simply isn't true. It is, however, easy to understand why people think it may be true, that we are just a bunch of well-heeled yuppies stuffing our craws with foie gras, even though what we are truly about is genuine salt-of-the-earth stuff, and not just figuratively. Our purpose in celebrating all these wonderful, unique (and yes often "gourmet") foods is not a way for us to demonstrate some ill-conceived moral superiority, as BR Myers tried somewhat whiningly to assert in his Atlantic Monthly piece this month, but rather it is our attempt to preserve the histories, traditions and cultures that make each of us who we are.
"Patriotism," Lin Yu Tang once said, is "love of the foods we ate as children." Looked at on a macro-level, then love of humanity and love of the earth is love of the foods that make people distinct. Protecting that food, whether it is fois gras and caviar or bread and salt, is not an act of elitism but instead of human love. As such it would be ridiculous not to also revel in the pleasures the food offers because what is the point of love if it does not also bring joy? And it is in that reveling that some see the tinge of elitism, even gluttony. But Thoreau said "he who distinguishes the true savor of his food cannot be a glutton. He who does not, cannot be otherwise."
Petrini said it very well on his recent US tour. "A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."
I hope that Slow Food Nation, the event, will go a long way toward dispelling these misconception. It had better.
Posted on Fri, September 14, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
By Kurt Michael Friese
It was the Jazz Age, a time of speakeasies, gangsters and bathtub whiskey. Railroad cars crossed the country carrying hobos and the occasional load of table grapes with stenciled warnings, "Caution: Grapes – Do Not Add Yeast or Fermentation Will Occur!"The Volstead Act had become law and the nation went dry.
Or more accurately, the nation's rivers of booze went underground and gave rise to a new industry: bootlegging. Almost overnight a vast criminal enterprise sprang up across the nation and gangsters became rich and powerful running whiskey and operating secret, password-protected bars. None became more powerful than the New York born Alphonse Capone.
Capone made his name in Chicago as the head of the vaguely named "Chicago Outfit," even though his business card referred to him as a used furniture dealer. In truth he was an accomplished manager of a network of bootleggers. Occasionally, the "heat" in Chicago would cause him to take refuge in the comfort of the Julien Inn in Dubuque, Iowa, where he frequently availed himself of a favorite whiskey, Templeton Rye.
The tiny town of Templeton is located in northwest Iowa, about an hour-and-half drive from Des Moines in Carroll County. The story goes that just before Prohibition, a traveler wandered through town and had heard that there may be some libations to be had. Stopping at the first house he came to, he inquired where it might be found. The kindly woman pointed to a yellow house down the street. "That house," she explained, "is the only house that doesn't sell Templeton Rye." That house was the Rectory.
When Prohibition took hold, and revenue agents or "revenuers" seemed to be everywhere, such openness and generosity vanished, although Templeton Rye did not. No one knows how many households continued to "cook whiskey," and only a select few will admit it even to this day, so strict were each family's secrecies, and so feared were the revenuers.
One family though, the descendents of Alphonse and Frances Kerkhoff, proudly proclaim the prowess of the family's prohibition-era recipe, and now Iowan's can enjoy it legally for the first time. Templeton Rye is now a licensed distilled spirit made only in Templeton and available only in Iowa (and just recently, appropriately enough, Chicago).
Rye whiskey differs from its cousins, bourbon and scotch, in number of ways, most notable that it must, by law, contain a minimum of 51% rye grain. Rye's contribution to the flavor of a whiskey is a spiciness, and it adds a sort of fruity dryness and a warmth to the finish, according to the late great Michael Jackson, author of Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide. "What the rye grain gives to bread, it also imparts to whiskey," he writes. "Rye whiskey has that same hint of bitterness. It is reminiscent of bittersweet fruit – perhaps a hint of apricot – spicy, a little oily, almost peppermint."
While Jackson told us of Rye's origins in colonial Pennsylvania and Maryland, it is Templeton's bootlegging history that the Kerkhoff's son Meryl, grandson (and master distiller) Keith, and great-grandson Kody hope will attract the attention of Iowa's (and some day the nation's) whiskey connoisseurs. They proudly flaunt the Capone connection and their family recipe's prohibition-era bona fides in all the marketing. The revenuers caught Alphonse and Frances three times back then, the third offense leading to prison time for Alphonse.
Some of the best stories are of the secret hiding places people would use to store, or in some cases distribute, the contraband whiskey. One story Meryl likes to tell was that his mother was told that the jug was hidden behind the toilet tank, and if any strangers were to come in the yard, she should dump the contents down the stool right away, before even opening the door because it might be a revenuer. One day while Alphonse was out it happened, and Frances dutifully dumped the whole gallon of whiskey only to find that it was just a salesman in her yard.
All this makes for great marketing, but still, it is the supple, amazingly smooth flavor that results from Minnesota rye, distilled and triple-filtered, then aged in oak barrels from Missouri that are what will really win the palates of whiskey enthusiasts around the country. Templeton Rye was very well received at April's "WhiskeyLive" event in New York City, where many patrons called it the best of the show. This summer, they plan to unveil a limited edition batch in honor of the town of Templeton's Quasquicentennial July 6-8.
The Kerkhoff's hope to be licensed to sell their Rye in Chicago by this fall, and around the country soon after, but for now legalities and a supply keep it exclusively in Iowa. Lucky us.
2 famous cocktails are traditionally made with Rye, the Sazerac and the Manhattan.
1 teaspoon Pernod or Herbsaint liqueur
1 teaspoon sugar, 1 sugar cube, or 1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
3 dashed Peychaud's Bitters
1 lemon peel twist
Put the Pernod or Herbsaint in a chilled old-fashioned glass and swirl to coat the bottom and sides completely. Discard the excess.
In a cocktail shaker combine 4-5 ice cubes with the sugar, rye, and bitters. Shake and strain into the old-fashioned glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass to extract oils, then drop in the twist and serve.
1 1/4 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish
In a mixing glass with ice, combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass, garnished with the cherry.
For more information about Templeton Rye, visit
For more information about the Templeton Quasquicentennial, visit
Originally published in Edible Iowa River Valley. All rights reserved. © 2007, Kurt Michael Friese. No part of this article may be reproduced without the written consent of the author or publisher.
Posted on Fri, September 14, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food NOLA has a new little sister
Wait a minute.
Don't go so fast.
Join the Slow Food movement.
Slow Food of North Louisiana will hold its first chapter meeting — or convivium — from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, 3015 Greenwood Road in Shreveport. Convivium means "to live with, hence to feast with because conviviality is an essential ingredient of Slow Food."
The "Southern Supper" first session will introduce locals to the organization.
So what is slow food?
"Part of a growing national and international movement to foster awareness about the foods we eat and provide an opportunity to share local food customs and traditions," said convivium leader Becky Craft.
You can read more about it at The Shreveport Times
Y'all bon appetit, you hear?
Posted on Wed, September 12, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
For 22 years, Farm Aid has been traveling the country and making music to support family farms. Last Sunday, Farm Aid hit New York City, giving NYC the chance to show its love for farmers and to prove that urban landscapes are farm-friendly in more ways than one. For their arrival in NYC, Farm Aid partnered with a local group called The Food Systems Network New York City (a network of local groups working on issues in and around food) to bring the concert to a new level; FSNYC succeeded in making the event completely recyclable, and also in adding an educational component.
Slow Food USA was one of many non-profits to have a table set up with information and demonstrations for Farm Aid attendees. Under a tent called "Resurrect the Potluck," we joined FoodChange, Just Food, Sustainable Table, and The Cornell Cooperative Extension. Staff from the SFUSA office flipped Manoomin Wild Rice Pancakes, topped them with local New York State maple syrup and served them up to thousands of attendees. As they chewed, we talked, telling them about the endangered food tradition of wild rice harvesting, and spreading the Slow Food gospel.