What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, February 13, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
It's been a while since we've done any Farm Bill alerts, so here goes, since things are starting to get rolling again for the final push. Thanks to our friends at Community Food Security Coalition for keeping us all informed and in the loop.
The next step for getting this thing passed: members of the Senate and the House need to reconcile the differences between the versions that each body passed last year. When they come up with a single, decisive version, they'll then send it over to Bush, who many fear will veto the whole darn thing.
The conferees from the Senate side were announced this week. They are the top ranking (been around the longest) members of the Agriculture Committee - 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans:
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
If any of these Senators are from your state, it is still important to give them a call. Things to mention:
You can reach your Senator's office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Posted on Tue, February 12, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The New Mexico State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 60 that provides New Mexico State University (NMSU) $250,000 for: "research on mechanical harvesting and genetic engineering of chile…" We have until Wednesday morning to get Governor Richardson to line item veto this funding.
Members of Slow Food Rio Grande met with the chile industry's lobbyist yesterday and one of the sponsors of the bill. The chile industry's contention is that they have lost market share to Peru due to lower costs, and that labor is difficult to find. In response, they have developed a mechanized picker but now need a stronger chile that can handle the pressure of the machine.
Certain varieties of chile have been crossed over the past years making the skin tougher, etc. But, these same growers/chile processing companies, currently have operations in Mexico. And one of these companies has been patenting the "process" of making chile, so chile grown in Mexico is now called "New Mexico Chile." They are currently patenting the names of traditional chiles as well. NMSU also will gain with the development of a GMO chile seed.
GMO seeds can potentially destroy the genetic diversity of New Mexico's natural habitat, causing deviations in the structure of native and wild species, and the ecosystem. This bill threatens the integrity of all chile seeds grown for generations locally and internationally. Many countries ban GMO products, so in effect this bill would limit exportation of all NM's chile products. (n.b. The New Mexican Chile is on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste).
As consumers and representatives of organizations, as defenders of biodiversity and non-genetically modified food, we urge to you to please help us out by calling, emailing or faxing Governor Richardson to veto this funding.
With less than 24 hours, PLEASE call and email Governor Richardson. Let him know you will no longer eat chile products from NM, if this bill is funded.
1. Telephone: 505-476-2200
· Tell the person your name
· Tell them if you are a consumer, Slow Food member, farmer, etc, and from where
· Tell the person you want the Governor to:
Line Item Veto: In HB2 (House Bill 2), page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
· Click here or
· Copy into your browser: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/email.php?mm=6&type=opinion
· Choose issue: Legislative Session 2008
· Cut and Paste the Following in the Comments section:
Please Line Item Veto: In HB2, page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
3. Fax: 505-476-2257
Posted on Mon, February 11, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Nearly a month ago, Tom Philpott, over at Grist, did a tasting of several different coffees, and North Carolina-based Counter Culture coffee came out on top. These guys import coffee from the "finest, most-well-run coffee farms in the world," roast it here, and make it their mission to educate people about coffee.
Here in NYC a former Slow Food staffer (Cerise Mayo) and a former Slow Food intern (Rachel Graville) headed out to Franny's restaurant on a recent rainy morning to one of their weekly "cuppings" (coffee speak for tastings) of Counter Culture coffee. Below, they share their experiences.
Counter Culture's Director of Coffee and Co-Owner, Peter Guiliano was on hand to lead the cupping and to provide some history on the coffees cupped and Counter Culture itself.
The four coffees to be cupped were La Golindrina from Columbia, Kuta from Papau New Guinea, Linong from Sumatra, and Urgacheffe from Ethiopia. They were ground and placed in small glasses. We were walked through the process of smelling the coffee dry (aroma), smelling it once hot water had been poured over (fragrance), smelling while moving the grinds with a spoon (breaking), and (finally!) tasting. After all the tasting was done, the group reconvened to discuss the results. This was a blind tasting so the names were revealed only after the coffees were tasted and notes taken.
The Columbian coffee presented aromas of brown sugar, chocolate, and black pepper. On the palate it was bright and light with bitter chocolate and floral notes with a clean finish. The Kuta coffee smelled of red apple, which shifted more towards a savory broth with hints of overripe pear on the tongue. The Sumatran was a heavier sensation, smelling earthy, like pipe smoke and black sesame. Someone picked up clove the fragrance and Peter said that's because cloves grow in around the coffee beans on the farm where this coffee originates.
Finally, the last coffee, the Urgacheffe from Ethiopia, was the most controversial. When asked for a show of hands of who loved the coffee and who hated it, the group was split almost in half. Peter said this is indicative of his experiences tasting this coffee in the past. Some people smelled tart yogurt, others gym socks.
And from Cerise:
Following a short break for grub, Peter gave a slideshow of his 2007 travels, having spent half the year scouting and solidifying partnerships with his growers. What quickly became apparent is how the relationships that they have built over not that many years have revolutionized the coffee market—from bean to cup. Counter Culture, along with just a handful of other direct roasters, have literally transformed the landscape, as well as the business model, for how coffee is grown, processed and produced. In any part of the world, smallish sized coffee farms are usually no larger than 10 hectares, which necessitates a town or regional coffee cooperative in order to process the beans. Due to the scale and remoteness of their operations, fermentation and drying varies wildly, depending on who taught the farmer, be it a skill passed down for generations, or a random representative from a large company/government body that is not necessarily prioritizing nuance and unique flavor.
Peter said that there are many examples of growers who cannot tell him the reasoning behind why they ferment their beans for the length of time that they do, just that someone at some point came and told then that that set length of time is beneficial. They are now learning to cultivate and process differently–whether in the highlands of
Posted on Fri, February 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you've been gobbling up avocados in recent days, they're likely not California-born. Last winter, California's avocado crops were devastated by a harsh freeze. This past fall, with hopes of recouping their losses, farmers were hit again, this time by the widespread wildfires. The difference between freeze and fire, however, is that the freeze affects only the one crop/season, whereas the fire-burned trees might take three years to recover. Consumers probably have not noticed the effects (prices have not risen) because Mexico and Chile have stepped in to fill the void.
(Photo by Donna McLoughlin, using Puebla avocados purchased at the San Diego farmer's market.)
The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste recently "boarded" the Puebla avocado, which despite its name, can be found in the San Diego area, having been brought there from Mexico circa 1911. It was once quite popular, but was replaced by the hass variety which travels better because of its thicker skin. There were very few trees even before the fires, and now the numbers are down to a mere 10. Dennis Sharmahd, one of the few remaining Puebla producers, is hopeful that next year, trees might be available for sale.
11020 Bachelor Lane
Escondido, CA 92026
760-749-0792 or 760-317-7777
Beattie & Travis Avocado Co
1757 Warmlands Ave.
Vista, CA 92084-3630
Posted on Thu, February 07, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
More in meat news:
We all know the concept of a morality tax: tax cigarettes like crazy and people will stop smoking, raise taxes on gasoline and people will stop guzzling. Results are debatable. Now PETA is calling for a meat tax, which they're calling a "sin tax." Slow Food USA Ark-Presidia Committee member Emil DeFelice makes an argument in the Charleston City Paper that a meat tax misses the point. "All cigarettes are bad," he says, "but not all meat is bad."
How about a tax on industrial meat?
Addition: Here's a link to Dr. Temple Grandin's website, where you can read all about her work designing humane slaughter facilities and developing assessment criteria for animal handling.
(n.b. our post title comes from a quote from National Pork Board spokesperson Cindy Cunningham)
Posted on Tue, February 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Overheard walking down the NYC street yesterday: "I don't eat potatoes; it's a texture thing." A curious statement given the tremendous variety of potato preparation, not to mention potatoes themselves. Mashed potatoes, potato gratin, boiled potatoes, shredded and fried potatoes…the textures (and flavors) are endless. And did we mention…delicious?
Perhaps this–the glory of the potato–is what caused the UN to declare 2008 "The International Year of the Potato." Some people might argue for 1845 being the year of the potato (that's the Irish potato famine, for those non-history buffs out there), but that was about lack, and we'll hope that this one's about bounty. The UN made this decision and set up their website as part of a worldwide initiative to raise awareness about potatoes, and their ability to play a part in food security. As they say on their site: They're grown worldwide. They feed the hungry. They're good for you. Demand for them is growing.
Another interesting part of the site is the discussion of potato diversity and the discussion of genetic engineering of potatoes, side by side.
Slow Food USA has three potato varieties on its Ark of Taste:
The Green Mountain Potato, very popular in the latter half of the 19th century
Ivis White Cream Sweet Potato, an extremely endangered and unique variety and
The earthy, nutty, pacific northwest fingerling variety called the Ozette.
Posted on Mon, February 04, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
We found this fascinating photo essay via our friends at Slow Food Seacoast (photo at left not from the series). A photographer at The Chicago Tribune did a long term project photographing a family farm that eventually closed down– a demise he chronicled. Later, he had the serendipitous opportunity to return to the farm or, well, where the farm used to be. He did a second photo essay of the new family living there, who were living in one house of a newly built subdivision. The Trib shows the pics side by side and the effect is powerful.
Posted on Fri, February 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
A few weeks ago the UK's Guardian published a list of the 50 people who could save the planet. It's an eclectic and diverse spread including everyone from activist/matinee idol Leonardo DiCaprio to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to…our own Carlo Petrini.
Being a UK publication it leans towards Brits, but it's a great way to see that interdisciplinary work is what gets anything done; this list of economists, policy makers, rabble-rousers, clergymen, entrepeneurs and, yes, food activists, is testament to the need for collaboration in working against climate change.
Posted on Fri, February 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
From our friends at Community Food Security Coalition
re: Community Food Projects, which are designed to increase food security in communities, improving the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.
This year's competition for Community Food Project (CFP) grants has been halted by the USDA because of uncertainties about the program's future funding in the Farm Bill. Prior to this recent suspension, over 460 letters of intent had been submitted.
The House version of the Farm Bill provided discretionary - not mandatory - funding, which means that the program must be funded through the appropriations process. The Senate version restored mandatory funding at $10 million annually for years 2008-2012 (double what it received previously).
However, no money for the program was provided in the fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill. USDA decided to halt considerations for 2008 grants because if the House funding prevails in conference or if a new Farm Bill is not passed, CFP will not be funded in 2008.
Your advocacy is critical to restore this decade-long enormously successful program. Millions of dollars are at stake for programs that support access to healthy food for underserved communities and benefit family farmers.
You can help!
Please send faxed letters to and call your House of Representatives member and both Senators and tell them you are very concerned that continued CFP funding is in jeopardy in the Farm Bill.
To reach your Representative and Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
For Representatives, ask him/her to contact:
Chairman Peterson (if a Democrat) or
Rep. Goodlatte (if a Republican)
For Senators, ask him/her to contact:
Senator Harkin (if a Democrat) or
Senator Chambliss (if a Republican).