What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, February 29, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Winnie Yang
A compelling piece by Michael Specter in the February 25, 2008, issue of The New Yorker discusses the complexities of carbon footprints — specifically the economics of reducing environmental impact — and how corporations, researchers, and even investors are addressing the issue.
About a third of the article is devoted to the carbon footprint left by food systems. Much of this is stuff you might have heard or read before, but it's particularly useful to see it within a broader context. It's also nice to know that there are people out there, like Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy, who exercise a great deal of influence on their company's relatively large footprint as well as on its customers, and realize that they should take initiative in reducing it– and not wait for government regulators to step in when it becomes too late.
Posted on Thu, February 28, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
An article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal on reducing environmental impact through use of a garbage disposal got us thinking about the various options for managing your organic waste (n.b. you'll need a subscription in order to read the entire article). There are garbage disposals, yes, but also composting. If you've been looking for ways to reduce waste in your household but have felt intimidated by getting started, now's your chance! Today's the day to begin.
Garbage Disposal: The above-mentioned article points out that environmental engineers and local government planners around the world are starting to acknowledge the positive benefits of disposing of organic waste through the water system rather than sending it to the landfill. They even cite a model project in Malmo Sweden that doen't use the sewage system but rather a special organic waste system that turns food into methane, which can then be used to produce power.
Backyard Composting: If it's just yard waste you're looking to manage, you can simply put it in a pile and nature will take its course. If it's food scraps you'd like to compost, you've got to build or buy a structure for it, or critters will show up to make themselves a feast. You can find some helpful instructions here at the City of Davis' website.
Urban Composting: What if you don't have a backyard? Here in NYC, you can bring your food scraps to various farmers' markets. When you have food scraps, put them in plastic bags in your freezer to keep the from decomposing, and when your freezer gets too full, you can bring them to the market, or to other drop-off locations, such as community gardens, ecology centers, urban farms, etc. Another option? Vermiculture–yup, worms. Read more about this here.
Posted on Wed, February 27, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
As the American Foreign Press reported on Monday, Carlo Petrini has rejected the French call for their gastronomy to be preserved on UNESCO's World Heritage List, saying "it was wrong to try to rank world cuisines."
His problem with this request is not that French gastronomy isn't worthy of preservation, but rather that ALL gastronomy is worthy of preservation, so why prioritize? As he said: "Every nation has its gastronomical language, closely linked to its own culture and all those culinary traditions need to be preserved."
Over at The Grinder, at Chow.com, they question UNESCO even bothering itself with stuff like this at all. An historic building is a pretty straightforward thing to aim to preserve, but how about a culture, a gastronomy? Maybe too ephemeral?
Posted on Mon, February 25, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
What better symbol of our commitment to Slow principles and ecological living than growing a garden? Home food production is almost a forgotten art, but Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) and Portland, Maine convivium leader David Buchanan are working to reverse today's downward trends and help revive our gardens.
By David Buchanan
According to USDA statistics, today we buy more than 99 percent of the food we eat, and the percentage of home-grown food continues to decline. And yet backyard gardens and community plots can play a vital role in food production, as they did during the Second World War. At its height the Victory Garden movement produced nearly 40% of the produce consumed in this country. A reinvigorated garden movement could dramatically improve the way we grow and consume food.
In some cases all that's needed to start changing the way we eat and live on the land is a few basic tools, seeds and information. With that in mind, I traveled to Argentina in January to design and build a school garden in a shantytown neighborhood near Buenos Aires, and help launch a new KGI initiative.
The project's goal is to provide technical advice, training, tools, seeds and financial support for gardens in impoverished communities in the US and abroad. I spent nearly a month in Argentina designing the school's garden site, managing construction of planting beds and a pergola, prepping the soil, and working with local children to plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. I'll continue to stay involved to provide advice and support (and work with a school in Portland to form a sister garden project for their Spanish students).
Photos and a write-up of my experience with the school garden in Argentina are available at www.eatbydesign.org in the "travel" section.
Please visit www.kitchengardeners.org to learn more about Kitchen Gardeners International.
Posted on Fri, February 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This list in The Chicago Tribune of "Food Movies that Deserve an Oscar," from 2007, got us thinking. With the exception of "Ratatouille," by the way, they're not really food movies, per se. But the mention of food's role in "The Bucket List" — a movie about two guys doing all the things they've dreamed of doing before they kick the bucket–evokes Melanie Dunea's October 2007 book My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals: Portraits, Interviews, and Recipes.
And you? Your last supper? What foods are on your bucket list?
Posted on Thu, February 21, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Based on all the emails we got, Slow Food friends from around the country were captivated by the NY Times article about "slow design" a few weeks ago. It was such a hit that the San Francisco Chronicle also ran the story the following week.
It got us thinking about the intersections of Slow Food and design. The definition of "slow design" could extend even further than the Times article suggests.
For example, maybe recyclable cooking ware, as reported in Metroplis mag. You might not think of your plastic colander as sustainable, but if it's made in such a way that it can be recycled along with your empties, maybe it is?
Or how about the work of San Francisco-based design firm Futurefarmers? They are an innovative design collaborative that uses a portion of its profit to fund public projects, many of which explore the world of urban agriculture. Especially exciting, their Victory Gardens pilot project: "The program began as a utopian proposal and has now become a pilot project that supports the transition of backyard, front yard, window boxes, rooftops and unused land into food production areas. VG2007+ has the mission to create and support a citywide network of urban farmers by (1) growing, distributing and supporting starter kits for home gardeners, (2) educating through lessons, exhibitions and web sites and (3) starting and maintaining a city seed bank."
Finally, and this time back to the original article: Carolyn Strauss of Slow Lab, who is mentioned in the article, introduced one of her students to us last year and an interesting project was born. Whitney Stewart, then a student at Parsons School of Design, created a "Slow Lunchbox," for Slow Food on Campus students on the go, which she described as "a lunch carrier that is fun and easy to carry in a book bag and also which will hopefully inspire long-term use." Below is the veggie love graphic she designed for the portable tablecloth, and the pb and j graphic at the top of the post is hers as well:
Posted on Wed, February 20, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
"Only in America," points out Slow Food USA staffer Cecily, "is the choice between rent and food turned into an advertising gimmick."
And a question: is just one person meant to eat the two breakfast sandwiches AND the four cinnamon buns? Just checking.
On Sunday, as we all know, the largest beef recall in history. And papers around the country now advising consumers to "Eat local meat." Novel! For a nicely-put Q & A with Michael Pollan via Newsweek.com, click here.
As NYC-based site Gothamist puts it, it is all a moo(t) point–much of the meat had already been eaten. The waste (of recalled meat) is staggering, the videos (and the reality they reflect inside slaughterhouses) are upsetting. Incredulity all around.
Posted on Mon, February 18, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food Chicago member Anne Marie Klaske of NA-DA FARM (near DeKalb, IL) wrote to us about her family's unexpected encounter with the NAIS system.
An interesting reverberation and consequence that none of us might have anticipated. Please do jump in with your thoughts on this one:
I wanted to share w/SlowFood USA our family's experience lately with NAIS. We are just a small farm, with backyard 'pets' that provide us with our own eggs, and a horse and the kids pony…they aren't looking to go anywhere except to show them at the 4-H Fair. However, 4-H has complied with the NAIS's voluntary request to make it mandatory for all livestock to have a premises I.D. (the start to NAIS). My little 9 year old girl had been preparing to show Lady (her pony) this year at the fair, and because we don't want to participate in NAIS at all- with any form- she is unable to show her. We contacted the local 4-H leader of our county, and to our dismay, she explained they had to participate in the NAIS request because that is where they get a lot of their grant money. We are not only disappointed in the complacency of 4-H, but also how people just don't understand NAIS is a request, at least for now, and the more people who go along with the request the easier it will be for NAIS to be implemented for everyone, even the single Grandma living on her family farm who only owns one goat!
The amount of paperwork, expense, and just plain intrusion into our private homes/farms, is just wrong. Hopefully, as with anything new, people are looking into NAIS, not forgetting to look into the problems with that kind of system, instead of just taking it for the face value of helping: "provides producers and owners like you with a uniform numbering system for their animals to help manage them more closely." Any livestock owner, whether big or small, will tell you they manage their animals just fine now, without the government interfering, and for my daughter showing her pony at the fair, it's just plain unfair.
Posted on Sun, February 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80% of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai.
Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.
At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continue to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.
That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.
Haagen-Dazs, which is owned by Nestle, said bees are actually responsible for 40% of its 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split.
Now as we all know Nestle is not exactly world renowned for its feats of environmental heroics, but when major corporations who are not "on our side" - as it were - begin to notice what environmentalists have been saying and sometimes shouting about for a long time, it means that our message is finally getting through.
Perhaps the Chicken Little accusations will subside now that the corporate apologists wives' supply of white chocolate raspberry truffle could be interrupted
Posted on Thu, February 14, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The commercial/consumption aspects of Valentine's Day are not so slow, and yet, and yet…the "holiday" manages to hold its allure. Expressing love, eating chocolate, sharing a meal with loved one(s)–who could have a problem with that? And so, here goes our V-day round-up:
The New York Times ran an interesting article yesterday about the strain that different dietary proclivities can have on a couple. Even better? The lengthy comment debate unfolding on Serious Eats. If food is an aphrodisiac and my food makes you want to puke, what then?
Also fun to check out: the lineup on Evan Kleiman's radio show last Saturday, featuring The Sex Life of Food; Oysters as Aphodisiacs and a Chocolate Tasting. Click here to get to the show and have a listen. The FDA claims that aphrodisiacs are "folklore, " btw. But if the show leaves you in the mood for oysters and you don't believe the FDA, check out the Delaware Bay oyster (among others) on our Ark of Taste.
For some advice on "romantic cocktailing," check out the Wall Street Journal.
For a review of eco-chocolates, go to Grist.
And for those of you not feeling the love today, please consider some hearty winter BBQ and final parting words of wisdom that arrived to one of our staffers via email today:
Nothing says "I don't need a man" like pork belly and vinegary sauce.