What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, December 29, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If it helps, please insert
a) a drumroll
b) a celebrity reading the list straight to camera
c) a lot of enthusiasm, as indicated by the proliferation of exclamation points (!)
10) A New Office: The SFUSA staff enjoyed a move down two flights into a space double the size of our old one. Although we miss tripping over each other, we’re sure happy about having more room. Stop by and say hello if you’re ever in Brooklyn.
9) A New Baby: Finance Manager Kehinde Yeku welcomed the birth of her baby girl Ebu last May!
8) New States in the Union: Our first ever chapter in West Virginia.
7) Two Staff Weddings: Deena Goldman in June and Erika Lesser in November!
6) A New National Statute: This year, with the help of chapter leaders from around the country, we revised our national statute. It’s leaner, cleaner, and clearer.
5) Terra Madre: For the third biennial small-scale sustainable food producers conference, we brought over 700 US delegates with us, including a huge number under the age of 30.
4) A New Book: The publication of here for an article about in in the New York Times.
3) Can’t stop growing: 8,000 new members!
2) A New President: Nope, we’re not talking about Obama, we’re talking about Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA’s first ever President!
and the number 1 highlight of 2008…...
1) Slow Food Nation: Slow Food’s first US-based national scale event. With everything from sustainable street food to a victory garden on San Francisco’s Civic Center steps to star-studded discussion panels, Slow Food Nation brought San Franciscans—and the country—together in a conversation about the future of our food system. The event, our first annual, attracted over 85,000 people over the course of three days.
Posted on Tue, December 23, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
It’s a little late in the game for buying holiday gifts, but hey, you’re slowwwwww and slow’s a good thing, right?
If you left your shopping for the last minute, and are feeling a little bit nervous and a lot uninspired, we’re here to offer some delicious, nutritious, (not that ambitious) sustainable gifts for you. Most of them won’t arrive in time, but you can give your loved ones an IOU that promises good things to come.
Happy and Healthy Holidays from your friends at Slow Food USA!
Posted on Fri, December 19, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Alack and alas, despite a petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures in less than 2 weeks, Obama yesterday named former Iowa Governor and ethanol proponent Tom Vilsack as the new Secretary of Agriculture. This was a blow for the sustainable agriculture community, who had hoped for someone a little less, well, corn-y. But, as Time magazine noted, we “could have done a lot worse than Vilsack.” Which is what happens when you’re already at rock bottom: there isn’t much farther down to go. As The Nation said: “Obama could have done better. Much better.”
Michael Pollan weighed in on NPR, saying that “the incoming administration’s focus should be on food and the people who eat it,” meaning not on growing food just to turn it into fuel.
Raj Patel laid it on with some amusing-with-a-wallop-of sadness-&-disappointment commentary on his blog.
So what to do with these feelings of sadness and disappointment? Still have an itch in your finger to poke poke poke poke the new administration to make good on its promise for change? Then please sign this new petition, a letter to Vilsack reminding him what’s what.
And in other news, the USDA announced a new office of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND MARKETS.
Posted on Thu, December 18, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This text originally appeared in the CUESA newsletter
Slow Food mourns the November passing of Diane Joy Goodman, a passionate and effective hands on sustainability activist and moving force within the California food world. Diane was a key figure in the sustainable food movement, a committed advocate for organic farmers and a friend to many chefs.
She ran a consulting business that helped clients (everyone from rice to vegetable growers) understand organic standards and regulatory compliance, navigate the certification process, and communicate organic practices through their marketing. She was also the two-time chair of the California Organic Foods Advisory Board, a member of the National Organic Standards Board (where she helped craft and pass the current standards), and an active member of many committees and task forces for organizations such as the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Diane’s daughter Allyson and Son in Law Larry Jossell carry on her legacy of culinary integrity in San Francisco’s Nopa restaurant, for which Diane hand picked produce from farmer’s trucks as they came to the market.
Posted on Wed, December 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This holiday season, you can make merry and have fun while informing neighbors about ethical food!
Global Exchange is inviting individuals, nonprofits, schools, congregations, and youth groups all over the country to participate in Fair Trade Holiday Caroling.
What is Fair Trade Holiday Caroling? Carolers walk door to door or perform in any public place congregation, school play, holiday party, subway station, etc, etc. Carolers first sing a few carols, then read a brief Fair Trade Public Education Script to their audience, and finally ask their audiences to make a Fair Trade New Years Resolution or pledge to buy Fair Trade holiday gifts together, the thousands of Resolutions we collect in the US and around the world will make a big impact on expanding the market for Fair Trade farmers and artisans.
Carolers sing both traditional carols and the clever, amusing, fabulous Fair Trade carols submitted to Global Exchanges Fair Trade Holiday Song Contest during the Summer of 2008. (Even if you dont go caroling, take a peek at the songbook for a little chuckle.)
Check out the Holiday Caroling Toolkit, which includes the Songbook, information on how to carol, and all the materials you need.
The Global Exchange Fair Trade Campaign also encourages you to consider taking a pledge to buy some or all holiday gifts Fair Trade this year!
Posted on Wed, December 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Jerusha Klemperer
I am not a Whopper virgin, but I like to think that I have, “Sex and the City” style, re-virginized myself by abstaining for the past 15 years, although the documentary team behind Burger King’s latest ad campaign might disagree. This technical glitch, along with my status as an American with a TV and the internet, and close access to many of their 11,000 restaurants around the world makes me ineligible for this latest project—Whopper Virgins.
The blogosphere is abuzz about these spots (and the longer “documentary” found online), which feature people in remote Greenland, remote Thailand, and remote Transylvania—people who have never (ohmygoshcanyoubelieveit!) tasted the subtle beauty and strange arrangement of an American fast food burger—being offered Big Macs and Whoppers and then asked to pick which one they prefer. Like any good ad campaign, these spots are in poor taste, pretty misleading, and—in my humble opinion—most likely staged. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe most things I see on the teevee. Plus, when was the last time you looked to ad campaigns as paragons of cultural sensitivity and good taste?
Posted on Wed, December 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today, December 10th, is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948—a declaration that, in its own words, establishes a “common standard of achievement” when it comes to the rights and freedoms of all people, all over the world. One especially important right, as highlighted by Frances Moore Lappé on Huffington Post, is the right to food. Do check out her post for a thoughtful exploration of how many people in the world no longer are thinking of food in this way, and in fact may be hostile to the idea of governments protecting and ensuring that right.
She assures ” In imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in human nature is required! Through most of human evolution—except for the last few thousand of roughly 200,000 years—Homo sapiens lived in societies where pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, “especially among unrelated individuals,” humans are unique, writes authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers, Michael Gurven. Except in times of extreme privation, when some eat, all eat.”
An important day then for Lappé and for us to bring your attention to the recent victory achieved by recent Terra Madre delegates, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group we have featured here on the blog several times before, highlighting their efforts (and successes!) in getting fast food companies to raise their payment per pound of tomatoes by one penny in order to improve working conditions for tomato pickers in Florida. Last week, on December 3rd, in the midst of CIW’s national tour to protest Subway’s refusal to sign an agreement with them, Subway signed! And not just for tomatoes; they have agreed to apply the price increase to their entire supply chain.
To honor the incredible work that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is doing, CIW’s Lucas Benitez will be the honored guest at the Small Planet Fund’s fundraiser in NYC this evening.
Posted on Tue, December 09, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Perhaps you noticed the Onion-esque headline a few months back that PETA had made a public statement lending its support (both philosophical and monetary) to the development of test-tube meat (“shmeat.”). It feels like a strange day when radical animal rights activists are promoting the creation of, er, “life” for the sole purpose of eating, but then again, these are strange days.
While it might be just a publicity stunt, and while it’s quite possible that no mad vegetarian scientist will figure out a way to produce chik’n nuggets in the lab by PETA’s deadline of 2012, it does raise some interesting questions about the origins of our food, and our relationship to food. Grist tackles the subject, in its “Checkout Line” feature where they answer reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. They turn to the offal-enthusiast chef Chris Cosentino (of Incanto in San Francisco), as well as our own SFUSA President Josh Viertel. Click here to read Josh’s comments on the problems involved with distancing ourselves from the origins of our food, as well as his final zinger: “I think the next step is to find a solution that isn’t gross.”
Posted on Mon, December 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Speak up about the future Secretary of Agriculture ASAP!
‘Tis the season for Presidential cabinet appointments, and while you probably won’t find a surprise appointment in your own stocking, you are encouraged to let the USDA knowin these final weekswho you favor, and why. According to Steph Larsen at the Center for Rural Affairs (via Ethicurean.com, a blog that is doing fantastic coverage of this issue and others), there is a short list of candidates for Secretary of Agriculture, and we should exercise our democratic right by learning who’s who, focusing on realistic candidates (Michael Pollan, sigh, is not interested and not a real candidate). Please note, however, that this short list is a slippery lil’ fella, and just as soon as you think you’ve gotten your head around it, reports come that it has changed.
That’s where this new petition now circulating may come in handyas reported by Kim Severson on the NYT Diner Journal, and signed by many of our own including our President Josh Viertelsuggesting a few somewhat realistic, but NOT-on-the-short-list candidates, including Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University. While this list might not totally reflect the down-and-dirty realities of Washington, it makes a strong and well-supported push for the new administration to go in a more progressive direction with this position. Plus, the short list keeps changing, so who knows!
To sign onto this petition, click here.
And, as Larsen explains: “Another way to influence this process is by weighing in with your senators regarding other appointed positions at USDA, such as Under Secretaries, Deputy Under Secretaries, and Agency Administrators. These positions often control the daily workings of programs we care about, and having people friendly to the sustainable food, rural and agriculture community in these positions goes a long way to help make these programs successful.” For more information on those positions and how to get informed and get involved, click here
[Update: as of Thursday December 11th, the Food Democracy Now petition has nearly 19,000 signatures; check out the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof calling for a Secretary of Food instead of the antiquated Secretary of Agriculture for a country that is only 2% farmers; read the news about Obama’s team already writing briefing notes for this Secretary of Ag, even before he/she has been chosen.]
Posted on Mon, December 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today our featured Terra Madre guest is Robert R. Perry, of the University of Kentuckys College of Agriculture (as well as the Chefs Collaborative Board), and his innovative and practical project, the Kentucky Hamburger Alliance, which just launched in October. Thanks to Bob for providing us with a picture of him and his wife, hard at work on the farm (ha!). Bob was a delegate to Slow Foods Terra Madre conference in Torino in both 2006 and 2006. Terra Madre, he says, is like a giant pep rally for local foods. Having attended in both 06 & 08 I have built not only an incredible professional network in sustainable agriculture of advocates, farmers, chefs, educators and youth, but a network of friends that will last a lifetime.
This year, Bob was an essential contributor to the Meat Working Group that met during the conference. Recognizing that meat producers are easily able to sell the choice cuts but have a harder time moving the rest of the animal, Perrys program connects farmers and their less desirable cuts with buyers looking for meat for hamburgers. It’s about helping these small farmers band together, pooling their “trim,” creating enough product to supply a big client. The first big client is University of Kentuckys Dining Services, which means that UKY students are eating burgers made from fresh, local meat. As Bob says, the Kentucky Hamburger Alliance is a way to help the farmers develop their own businesses through cooperation and get great local food on campus for the students. UKs Food Service is very progressive about sourcing local food and their efforts deserve to be better known. They are reluctant to blow their own horn but Im willing to blow it for them. For more information about University of Kentuckys programs such as their Growing Kentucky program, click here.