What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, May 30, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Julia De Martini Day
Last friday afternoon I volunteered for the first time with Harvest Time in Harlem, a Slow Food in Schools program facilitated by Slow Food NYC member and Slow Food USA Convivium Coordinator Yuri Asano. The session's focus was sustainability and part of our activity involved cutting micro-greens directly from baby plants delivered fresh by Hudson Valley Convivium leader Mimi Edelman. After reviewing the ingredients and watching a demonstration on how to get started making pita sandwiches with the fresh arugula and basil, Kai, a 4th grader, spontaneously came up with this song.
Stir it Up
Stir it Up, (stiiiiirrrrrrr it up)
Stir it Up, Stir it up
Vinegar, Oil, Mustard
Salt and Pepper,
Taste it Honey
We gonna use chicken and cut it up
We gonna put it on a plate
That's what's up
We love the earth, you should too
Take a bite and you'll love it toooooooooo
Posted on Thu, May 29, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you've been in a hospital recently, whether as a patient or as a visitor, you know that the saddest thing in there might be the food. Maybe you've even wondered: how can they serve this junk in a hospital? The staff nutritionists will meet with patients and tell them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but those things generally won't be on the hospital food menu.
Healthcare Without Harm is an international coalition of organizations that works to transform the health care sector so it is no longer a source of harm to people and the environment. They put out an encouraging press release today that reports that 127 hospitals nationwide have made significant changes in their buying practices "towards more sustainably produced, healthier choices for patients, staff and visitors" :
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 29, 2008 8:00 A.M. ET
REPORT OUTLINES LEADING TREND IN HEALTH CARE SECTOR: HOSPITALS NATIONWIDE PURCHASING LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE FOOD
Details efforts of 127 Hospitals Nationwide in buying healthier food to promote public health
For 127 hospitals across the United States, the words "hospital food" and "healthy communities, healthy environment" are one and the same, according to a new report released by Health Care Without Harm today. The "Healthy Food in Health Care" report outlines concrete steps being taken by hospitals nationwide to change their food buying practices towards more sustainably produced, healthier choices for patients, staff and visitors. "We applaud the 127 facilities, in 21 states across the country, including some that serve over 9000 meals every day, that have pledged to source local, nutritional, sustainable food," says Jamie Harvie, National Coordinator of the Healthy Food in Health Care Initiative. "These hospitals recognize that their healthcare food dollars are an important investment in preventive medicine." The Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge outlines the steps to be taken by the health care industry to improve the health of their patients, local communities and the environment. This Pledge Report details the concrete food purchasing steps these facilities are making. For example:
• 80 facilities (70%) are purchasing up to 40% of their produce locally
• Over 90 facilities (80%) are purchasing rBGH-free milk
• 100% have increased fresh fruit and vegetable offerings
• 50 facilities (44%) are purchasing meat produced without the use of hormones or antibiotics
"By serving nutritious, local, sustainably grown food to their patients, staff and visitors, hospitals are practicing good preventive medicine," stated David Hutchinson, M.D., and President of the Minnesota Academy of Family Practice.
"The purchase of meat and poultry raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics, milk produced without recombinant bovine growth hormones, organic, whole grain and less processed foods and support for CSA's and farmers markets are important investments for the health care sector to make in the health of people, communities and the environment." "These numbers are just the beginning," adds Harvie. "This initiative is not yet a year and a half old and more hospitals are signing every month. We've jumped from 19 to 21 States and added 8 more facilities in the last month."
Hospitals around the country are linking their operations to impacts on human and environmental health, and an emerging part of this trend is increased attention to food service. Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is not alone in its work to encourage support for local, sustainable food. In 2007, the American Public Health Association recognized the urgency of transforming our food system and passed a policy to promote environmental sustainability, improve nutritional health and ensure social justice. That same year, the California Medical Association passed a resolution that encourages hospitals to adopt policies that increase the purchasing and serving of local, sustainable food.
"By supporting local, sustainable food systems, these facilities are promoting health at the individual, community and global level," stated Harvie. "Across the country, pledged hospitals are continuously working to address the public and environmental impacts from current industrialized food production practices by sourcing nutritious, local sustainable food."
Posted on Tue, May 27, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today we've got an interview with Josh Hahn, whose company, Stone Bridge, advises schools on how to address sustainability and how their physical campuses can become integral components of this curricular mission.
We here at SFUSA first met you through you involvement with the Lawrenceville School, a private boarding school in New Jersey. They have an extremely progressive school food program (headed by Gary Giberson), the keystone in their Green Campus Initiative. What was your involvement with Lawrenceville and that program?
At Lawrenceville I was hired to produce a strategic plan for how the school could address the large conceptual issue of sustainability, and specifically what sustainability means for schools. I think that "Education for Sustainability" is much different from "greening."
For example: if a school installs light sensors in a classroom so that the lights go off when students leave, they should think hard about what exactly that action is teaching. If the students don't have to turn off the lights themselves, it may be further disconnecting them from ecology and natural resources. Education for sustainability looks to integrate children with the natural world not disintegrate their relationship with it.
At Lawrenceville the dining services aspect of the project became a model for how everything is integrated (land and water management; green building and energy efficiency; experiential education; procurement; waste streams; community and economic partnerships).
What makes that program work?
Buy-in and planning. I approach all my projects from within the organization. Too many sustainability initiatives are just that, an initiative. They need to be fully integrated into the culture (and all of the complex nuances of a particular place) in order for an organization to have success. Having a separate "program" kind of defeats the purpose, though it is an entry point or starting place that is sometimes essential.
What do you say to the skeptics who say: of course! It's a private school! They're rich and going green costs money!
First, I do work primarily with well-endowed schools; to me it is even more essential for these schools to take on the leadership that will be necessary to transition us to a post-petroleum economy.
Second, it is true that in developing models there is initial upfront investment, however not all schools need to be models! Teachers can start by putting worm bins in their classrooms and teaching a lesson on Waste=Food. The underpinnings of an Education for Sustainability curriculum are very simple and can be taught in Pre-K or PhD with little to no investment.
Again, it goes back to the difference between "greening" and educating. The whole school doesn't need to be off the grid to teach these lessons. Rather than the whole salad bar being local, start with growing basil and making pesto in the school. The program will grow, not because of its virtuous philosophy, but because people will be authentically interested and actually like the pesto! Yes, even kids.
And, then you can expand: Next step? Bread from a local bakery. Then local tomatoes and fresh house made mozzarella (which is really easy to make with kids)…all of a sudden you have a grilled cheese that is unique to your school. Name it after a teacher… that is what we did at Lawrenceville and now all the teachers want a sandwich named after them!
What have you found to be the key elements for an institution to be successful on their path towards sustainability?
In my experience the organizations that are most successful in implementing some of these ideas are Learning Organizations. These are organizations that understand that teaching and learning are reflective practices that require constant adjustment.
Schools that are able to work across disciplines (science integrated with art), and across departments (teachers working with chefs and food service managers) are the most well equipped to hit the ground running. This is why food is so important to broader sustainability issues; it is a meeting place for everyone in the community. The key is to identify opportunities that already exist within an organization and to make the projects/lessons authentic to student's real lives.
Check out their web site: www.bridgingsustainability.com
Posted on Tue, May 27, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
An exciting update for those of you who have been following the fight (both in the news and here on our blog) between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Burger King: Burger King has finally agreed to the 1.5 cents a pound increase on the price it will pay for tomatoes. A penny per pound of that will end up in the pockets of the workers. This small increase for Burger King will represent a leap from poverty wages to living wages for the workers.
From the NY Times this weekend:
"Lucas Benitez, of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, said he was thankful that Burger King agreed to the wage increase, and he said his group would now set its sights on other restaurant chains and grocery retailers who continue to pay wages his group regards as substandard.
Noting that some of those companies market themselves as being socially responsible, Mr. Benitez, co-founder of the farm workers' group, said, "It is time for those companies to live out the true meaning of their marketers' words."
Posted on Fri, May 23, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA has begun an exciting partnership with online food locater LocalHarvest. Local Harvest is an easy-to-use site that helps consumers all over the country find the sustainable food in their area–that means farmers' markets, family farms, CSAs, retailers who sell free range poultry, grass-fed beef purveyors, etc. Now, for the first time ever, LocalHarvest will be keeping track of producers of Slow Food USA Ark of Taste products. They announced the partnership in their April newsletter.
As they explained:
Together we will bring more attention to the role small farmers play in preserving our food heritage and protecting some of the biodiversity that is threatened by corporate scale agriculture. Central to the new partnership is a joint outreach effort. We are using the LocalHarvest database – now over 13,000 strong – to find more farmers and artisanal food producers who might be interested in producing Ark of Taste products. Many of these foods are quite difficult to find in the marketplace, and one of the main goals of the Ark program is to increase their availability, and thus their longevity.
This will help us in our efforts to bring the Ark of Taste off the page and into farms and kitchens! Already, over 600 farmers have added their Ark products to the database.
Posted on Thu, May 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Julia De Martini Day
Our beloved Snail seems to have a new (or long lost) friend in the Slug. This morning on NPR, car-pooling commuters – aka slugs – were interviewed about why they choose to find rides with strangers to speed their trips to work up rather than drive their own cars. Car-pooling allows them to ride in the fast, HOV lane (High occupancy vehicle) and save money on gas. This is not your iconic stand on the side of the road thumb in the air hitch-hiking though. It is an organized activity with its own website.
So aside from the Snail and the Slug both being part of the Mollusk family – what is the connection to Slow Food USA? Images of slow creatures helping us decrease our environmental impact a little faster!
Posted on Wed, May 21, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Sunday's NY Times article about how much food gets thrown out in this country was notable both because of its thesis–perhaps now that food prices and food scarcity are on the rise, people will be ready to engage in a conversation about reducing food waste–but also for its picture.
Were we the only ones who noticed a similarity to the beautiful photographs from the 2005 book Hungry Planet? This one looks like the evil twin of those–not what we eat, but what we throw away. Chilling stuff.
A lot of that waste is institutional, of course (restaurants, schools, etc.) but there is personal waste as well. The first thing to do is to be a conscious shopper, and to try to plan for the week–making what you need and cooking/preserving/freezing the rest. If organic matter goes bad (or even if it doesn't!), you can compost it. For tips on managing household organic waste, see our February 28th posting.
Posted on Tue, May 20, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
"Leave our agricultural future to chefs and anyone who takes food and cooking seriously. We never bought into the "bigger is better" mantra, not because it left us too dependent on oil, but because it never produced anything really good to eat. Truly great cooking — not faddish 1.5-pound rib-eye steaks with butter sauce, but food that has evolved from the world's thriving peasant cuisines — is based on the correspondence of good farming to a healthy environment and good nutrition. It's never been any other way, and we should be grateful. The future belongs to the gourmet."
-Dan Barber, NY Times, May 11, 2008
Inspired by this quote and by the piles of asparagus at our local farmers' markets here in NYC, we polled the Slow Food USA staff members to hear what they're doing with nature's bounty.
Many of us agree that the best thing to do with asparagus is simply to grill or roast it at a very high heat. Slather it with good olive oil, plenty of salt (Maldon sea salt, says Winnie) and pepper, and cook it up.
Posted on Mon, May 19, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If there's a food producer in your life/community who you think is doing innovative work in sustainable agriculture and whom you think has been a leader in supporting their regional food system, consider nominating him or her for the 6th Annual Glynwood Harvest Award.
This year's categories are:
Click here for nomination details and to make an electronic submission. On their site you can also read more about the Glynwood Center (which helps communities address change in ways that conserve local culture and natural resources while strengthening economic well-being), as well as read about past Harvest Award winners. Nominations must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than July 21, 2008.
Posted on Fri, May 16, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The Board of Slow Food USA is seeking to fill a new staff position at SFUSA, that of President. The complete posting can be found here, after the jump, as well as on other job sites such as idealist.org. Please read and pass on to anyone you think fits the bill.
Slow Food USA Seeks President
Slow Food USA seeks to hire a dynamic leader who will build the organization to its full potential as the major NGO player in the American sustainable food movement. The post of President is a new position that will augment SFUSA's national leadership capacity by working closely with the Board of Directors and existing key staff, including the Executive Director. This position is being created as part of SFUSA's strategic plan and in anticipation of aggressive organizational growth. SFUSA, affiliated with Slow Food International, is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization with its main office located in Brooklyn, NY; a subsidiary office, Slow Food Nation, located in San Francisco, CA; and nearly 200 grass-roots membership chapters in 47 states. SFUSA membership has grown from 1,500 in 2000 (when the national office opened) to over 16,000 today. SFUSA currently directs several national programs in education, biodiversity and network building (visit http://www.slowfoodusa.org for more information) and is developing a strategy for future involvement in food policy.
The President will direct and oversee all activities of SFUSA. In particular, he or she will have primary responsibility in the areas of strategic vision, major fundraising, external affairs, and organizational development, while working with the Executive Director to oversee all other functions of the organization, including programs, finances and administration. The President reports directly to the Board of Directors.
Candidates must have:
• A professional career of progressively challenging responsibility and leadership.
• Excellent track record as a visionary leader, nonprofit entrepreneur and manager with verifiable accomplishments in fundraising and organizational development.
• Excellent skills in public speaking, communications, strategic planning, and strong interpersonal ability.
• A Bachelor's degree, Master's preferred; or comparable professional experience.
• Candidate must understand and share Slow Food values. He or she should have an interdisciplinary knowledge of national and global food issues, and ideally, familiarity with the culture and history of the organization.
In addition, an ideal candidate has experience in directing complex institutional functions, including capital campaigns, budgeting, government and legislative affairs, educational programs, and marketing.
Salary: commensurate with experience, plus standard benefits package
Qualified candidates should direct inquiries or send resumé, references, and a letter of application to
Lynne H. Frame
SFUSA Search Committee Chair
38 Helens Lane
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(Please, no phone inquiries to the national office.)
Application deadline: June 13, 2008