What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, September 26, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
You have to wonder how many people would buy a package of ground hamburger meat if it had a nice big label that said: “this meat comes from six different countries! And may contain part of dozens or even hundreds of cows!” Especially at a time when fear is mounting about tainted products, such as food and drugs, from places like China.
On September 30th, here.
For more information and sample letters to sign and send to the USDA during their comment period, go to Food and Water Watch.
Posted on Thu, September 25, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
September 27th (that’s this Saturday) is the Green Jobs Now National Day of Action
Are you wondering: “What are green jobs?” Green jobs are jobs connected to making our communities more sustainable. As Green Jobs Now explains on their website:
Right now, there are millions of people ready to work and countless jobs to be done that will strengthen our economy at home. There are thousands of buildings that need to be weatherized, solar panels to be installed, and wind turbines to be erected. There are communities that need local and sustainable food and people ready to farm the crops. There are public transit systems and smart electricity grids in need of engineers and electricians. Americans are ready to build the new economy. It’s time to invest in saving the planet and the people. It’s time for green jobs now!
~ Van Jones and the Green Jobs Now Team
“And who is this Van Jones guy I keep hearing about?”
Van Jones is the award-winning founder and president of Green For All, a national advocacy organization based in Oakland, California. He has been a tireless advocate for building an inclusive, green economy - strong enough to lift millions of people out of poverty. He and his organization are fighting for “green-collar jobs and opportunities” for disadvantaged people, creating “green pathways out of poverty,” while greatly expanding the coalition fighting global warming.
Now, let’s take this day to ask ourselves: how can the sustainable food movement connect jobs related to sustainable food production, food distribution, and the building of infrastructure needed for local food economies to flourish connect with the green collar job movement?
To learn more about Green Jobs for All and to find a Saturday event near you, click here
Let us know your ideas for how we can build the connections between the 2 movements!
Posted on Tue, September 23, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Julia Middleton
Are you interested in the science behind where your food comes from, how it is grown and the new organic food movement? Do you have a passion for business and food and need a way to connect the two in your academics? Have you considered the cultural significance of food in different societies? These questions and many more can be explored in the new dual major EcoGastronomy Program offered at the University of New Hampshire.
As fall begins and a new school year is underway, the University of New Hampshire has unveiled its new dual major EcoGastronomy Program. Students in the program will take an integrated approach to their education by complementing their primary major with a combination of hands on learning, practical skills training and international study opportunities. The EcoGastronomy Program includes 5 required courses, one elective and 15 credits from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which will continue to nurture the relationship between the program and Slow Food.
The University of New Hampshires EcoGastronomy Program has had a special relationship with Slow Food as the program was inspired by a visit from Carlo Petrini in 2006. After he was presented with an honorary degree at the University, faculty and staff from the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, the Whittemore Schools of Business and Economics and the University Office of Sustainability came together to develop the core curriculum and plan of study for this new degree. The relationship with Slow Food has continued as students at the University of New Hampshire worked together to start a now thriving Slow Food chapter on Campus.
University students across the country are responding to a heightened awareness of food in society by demanding dual degree programs, study abroad opportunities and seminars with a focus on food issues locally, nationally and internationally. Congratulations to the University of New Hampshire and the other institutions here and abroad that are working to make educational opportunities available to students, and thus informing the next generation about ways to make good, clean and fair food available to everyone.
Posted on Mon, September 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA Staffer Julia De Martini Day
photo by Slow Food USA Staffer Cecily Upton
The first thing I wanted to do after arriving in San Francisco from Brooklyn, NY the Tuesday before Slow Food Nation was visit the Victory Garden. When I got to the front of the garden I saw a sign above the small entrance gate Victory Garden hours, 9am-4pm. “Shoot, I missed it,” I thought to myself. But before I turned away, a woman walked in front of me and opened the gate, Come in, she said. Its open.
It was a beautiful, sunny, and quiet afternoon, and the garden was empty. The woman offered to show me around, pointing out the native species and medicinal sections. She noted the translation of certain vegetable names into Spanish and told me how she had been coming here every day since it opened, and eating food from the garden, too. In the middle of the garden, between lettuce, kale, and rainbow chard, she opened a composition book and began humming a song she had written about the garden. In a way it read as a list of everything growing, but it also had a chorus reminiscent of this land is your land, this land is my land.
This is our garden, a place for you and me. This is our garden, where we come to be.
I knew the Victory Garden was producing food for a food bank and growing all kinds of wonderful things, but I hadnt imagined it would also be generating community ownership from neighborhood residents. Im sure not everyone living nearby felt this way, but this one womans poetry was a beautiful symbol of how the garden was contributing more than just food to the city.
Posted on Mon, September 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slate magazine investigates that “1,500 mile” statistic—i.e. the average American foodstuff travels 1,500 miles from farm to fork.
With some news outlets questioning the validity of the statistic and others questioning how important food miles are in evaluating environmental impact (the old New Zealand lamb statistic), many can feel stumped to find the right words for why they still prefer to buy their lamb from a local meat CSA than shipped over from half way across the world. Of course—as this article points out—statistics can be misleading, and don’t always take into account social factors.
How do you explain your commitment to local food? We’d love to hear your answers.
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Posted on Wed, September 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food staffer Julia De Martini Day
Brian Campbell from Uprising Seeds flew from Northern Washington State to San Francisco to attend Changemakers’ Day at Slow Food Nation, and to be presented with the financial component of the Betsy Lydon Ark Award. Uprising Seeds works to preserve and promote the use of rare and native seeds in Washington State, as well as run a farm and low-income CSA in Bellingham.
During Changemakers’ Day Brian joined the “Eat it to Save it” panel , alongside biodiversity and native food tradition champions Gary Nabhan and Poppy Tooker, in order to discuss how co-producers can contribute to protecting biodiversity through the pleasure of eating.
Saturday evening, Uprising Seeds was presented with the financial component of the award at a Slow Dinner at Cavallo Point. Neal Peterson, pawpaw grower and researcher, and the 2006 award recipient, (and at Slow Food Nation to participate in a Taste Workshop with his pawpaw fruit - read more about the pawpaw fruit on the Ark of Taste website here) presented the award to Brian.
Brian spoke briefly about his excitement to continue educating people about not just saving seeds, but finding the right seeds to grow in their environment, as well as for being honored with the award.
“As farmers our work is our passion, and we accept that we will at best make a modest living in the work we do, so it is awards like this that make us feel rich in community and the things that really matter…For us, this recognition shows a growing awareness of seeds and regional seed stewardship as being a real cornerstone in what it means to grow and eat local food,” Brian said.
Up next for Brian and partner Crystine Goldberg? The Terra Madre conference in Turin in October!
Uprising Seeds plans to use part of the award to develop a website, but in the meantime you can read more about their CSA serving people with food stamps here.
Posted on Tue, September 16, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This month’s Gastronomica magazine has a fascinating article on the prison phenomenon of “spread.” It’s only available in print, so I do recommend—if you’re not a subscriber already—hitting the newsstand for a copy.
The article documents how prisoners are creating “home-cooked” meals using filched and de-constructed ingredients from meal-time as well as processed snacks available from the canteen. It’s an amazing testimony to the desire for self-expression through food preparation; to the basic human need to create community around a meal; and to the individuality of each of our palates, based on culture, biology, and taste. Almost each and every version uses ramen noodles as a base, with wild and unlikely add-ins, like super spicy Cheetos, fruit drink mix, and jelly.
Also fascinating: to hear the ingenious ways some inmates have for breaking down highly processed foods into their component parts. It’s a wacky cycle—foods are processed, sold to prisons, who sell them to prisoners, who in turn break them back down into basic elements (like sugar, oil, etc.). The naive idealist can’t help but think: couldn’t you sell them these basic ingredients at the canteen? Instead of Cheetos, couldn’t you sell, er, cheese?
Posted on Tue, September 16, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Leigh Belanger, Chefs Collaborative
For everyone trying to purchase, prepare, and eat good clean and fair food, navigating the ocean waters can be a tricky proposition. Wild fish populations are crashing, farmed fish is all kinds of controversial—and all the while, demand for seafood is on the rise.
At Chefs Collaborative, the national network of chefs and culinary professional working on sustainable food issues, we think about seafood all the time. How can chefs work with other members of the seafood industry and the conservation community to push for more sustainability when it comes to seafood?
At Changemakers Day during Slow Food Nation, Chefs Collaborative explored these questions. Our panel, Rising Tides, Sinking Catch, looked at ways that fishermen, purveyors, and chefs—all groups with a commercial stake in the oceans—can work together to support responsible fishing practices and build markets for sustainable seafood.
Panelists Riley Starks of Lummi Island Wild, Paul Johnson of Monterey Fish, and Joe McGarry of the Bon Appetit Management Company each shared with the roomful of chefs, sustainable seafood advocates, fishermen and women, and curious consumers the ways their respective businesses approach responsible practices.
The highlights? Starks is building a market for pink salmon, a lesser-known, under-utilized salmon species that, if marketed and cared for properly, he hopes will take pressure off of prized species like sockeye and coho—and give Starks’ small-scale reef-net fishing cooperative an income boost at the same time.
Johnson, seafood purveyor to top Bay Area restaurants, talked about the industrialization of the fishing industry as the number-one threat to maintaining sustainable seafood populations and healthy marine ecology. Johnson urged the crowd to support small-scale fishermen using responsible practices.
McGarry, an executive chef for the Bon Appetit Management Company, talked about how seafood fits in to the company’s Low Carbon Diet. By focusing on lower-down-the-food-chain species like mussels, clams, and sardines—and taking shrimp off the menu altogether—McGarry and BAMCO are demonstrating how to put sustainable ideals into everyday practice.
Each panelist had a unique perspective, but their presentations had a couple of ideas in common. The work of promoting and supporting sustainable practices in the fishing and seafood industries is never done. And it’s based on two main things—whether you’re a chef, fisherman, purveyor, or consumer: education and relationships. In the pursuit of good, clean, and fair food, we need to be aware of the issues—and we need each other.
Posted on Tue, September 16, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Two recent articles out of North Carolina caught our eye.
The first, from the Citizen-Times in Asheville, is about the new crop of farmers in the state: Latinos. As the article puts it, “Latinos are the new replacement farmer.” It charts the path of new legal citizens making the transition from farm worker to farm owner (sometimes filling in the gap left by young Caucasian generations who don’t want to work the fields as their fathers did), while also pointing out the there is not always a lot of crossover, commercially or socially, between the Caucasian farming community and the burgeoning Latino farming community. Especially interesting is what the article does not delve into at all: North Carolina has one of the largest agricultural guest worker programs in the country. You may recall that in the spring of 2007, as people debated the merits/viability of guest worker programs, all eyes turned to North Carolina.
The next article is a more simple ditty on the unmatchable taste of North Carolina shrimp; it expresses well that “politics” need not be a factor in eating local. If it all comes down to taste…you’ll know what to do.
The Slow Food community, meanwhile, is thriving in North Carolina. There are nearly 40 food producers, chefs, educators and students from North Carolina attending Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference in October, as well as 8 local chapters. For a list of North Carolina Slow Food chapters, click here.
Posted on Wed, September 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Consumers (ahem, co-producers) are getting wiser about meat.
They are asking questions about where it comes from, how it was raised, and how it was killed. They are demanding grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork. But is the supply always there? Are the channels for getting the product to the consumer always there? How can we help consumers learn more about sustainable meat production and how can we facilitate producers in marketing their product and connecting with consumers?
Directly Following Slow Food USA’s National Congress and dovetailing into Slow Food Nation, two of Slow Food USA’s Regional Governors, Matt Jones from Denver and Larry Martin from Russian River, CA), organized SFUSA’s first ever Meat Working Group to begin to tackle these issues and to see how Slow Food USA’s netowrk can help. They gathered together a stellar crew that included:
Slow Food USA leaders and guests attended to learn about the issues we face with respect to animal welfare, species and breeds, provenance, environmental concerns especially production practices -traditional (feedlot/CAFO) and alternative (small scale, sustainable).
As Matt reported, “What became apparent immediately was the need for consumer education about meat production. What we don’t know can hurt us and, has an enormous impact on not just the food we eat but on the ground upon which it is raised. The issue raised repeatedly by these world-class operators was the economic pressure on them to survive in a market where consumers (co-producers) do not have the ability to make informed purchase decisions. A generic meat case cannot educate eaters about the issues that affect their food. If honorable and respectful farmers and ranchers, who are making a meaningful difference in our food supply system, are forced to compete on a price point basis alone, they cannot be expected to survive.”
As a result, the group has decided to form a Meat Working Group to improve communication about meat issues. They already have several great ideas—stay tuned to the Slow Food USA website and blog for further information about how you can get involved.