What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, December 05, 2008 by Nathan Leamy
by Jerusha Klemperer
For a few years now, as part of my job, I have been preaching to others about eater-based conservation and the joys of keeping biodiversity alive by eating heirloom varieties, and heritage breeds. Conventional turkeys are not bred for flavor, don’tcha know; they’re bred for big boobs and fast maturation, and ability to freeze well; and blah blah blah and yup sure, I hear ya.
Finally this year I myself cooked not just a free range bird but a heritage one—an American Bronze from Frank Reese’s Good Shepherd Ranch in Kansas. Which for me is a bit like a football fan saying he ordered a football and it came from Brett Favre’s backyard where Brett Favre himself stitched the pigskin together with his own two (giant) hands.
I proudly served the beautiful 9 pound bird at the Thanksgiving feast called by one enthusiastic guest “the most delicious, least emotionally complicated Thanksgiving I’ve ever had!” And I found that I was suddenly my own target audience; this bird was weird. There was no light fluffy, watery breast. It didn’t taste like any turkey I have ever eaten before, and of course that was unnerving.
But by bite three I was won over by this flavorful, tenacious, lean meat, and finally understanding this idea of “real turkey flavor,” that heritage bird proponents talk about. My initial dislike helped me understand how deeply ingrained our food preferences are—we like what we know, and what we know is a Butterball. If I am to be any kind of spokesperson at all for the importance of re-shaping our palates, I must begin with myself, no?
*This post originally appeared on Jerushas blog.
Posted on Fri, December 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Ed Yowell, Regional Governor of Slow Food NY/NJ
While apples are not native to the New World, from the time they arrived during the 17th century, they became the quintessential American fruit. Here, European varieties adapted, becoming uniquely American. By 1872, more than 1,000 varieties, some local to a farm, a village, or a county, were classified, each prized for unique characteristics of taste and use cider-making, cooking, eating out-of-hand.
The Newtown Pippin is one of 129 American heirloom apples aboard the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a program to preserve foods in danger of being lost to our culture and palates. The Newtown Pippin, a chance apple sprouted from a random seed, or “pip”, hence the surname “Pippin”, is such an apple. It was first picked in 1730 on the farm of Gresham Moore, in Newtown, Queens County (now part of The City of New York). George Washington favored them, Ben Franklin had them shipped to him in London, and Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello and wrote of them to James Madison from Paris, “They have no apple here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.”
During the 20th century, for reasons of appearance, uniformity, transportability, and shelf-life, the interests of commercial food distribution reduced our local apple selections from dozens to a few. Alas, the short, lop-sided, green Newtown Pippin, while extremely good tasting, versatile in its culinary uses, and a keeper, lost the fight for shelf space to the tall, uniformly shaped, bright red, arguably bland tasting Red Delicious apple.
In 2003, Slow Food NYC determined to restore the Newtown Pippin to New York City tables. To start, Peter Hoffman, chef/owner of New York City’s Savoy restaurant, helped by hosting a fund raising dinner and, in 2004, Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed Slow Food NYC Apple Week, citing the Newtown Pippin as the Big Apple’s “most historic” apple. With the help of Ben Watson, Slow Food USA Ark of Taste Co-chair and Tom Burford, a Virginia heirloom apple expert, Slow Food NYC supplied Newtown Pippin cuttings (called scion wood) to the Cummins Nursery in Geneva, New York. There they were grafted on to root stock suited to our region.
During April, 2008, Slow Food NYC donated 85 Newtown Pippin trees to three New York State farms, Breezy Hill Orchard, Prospect Hill Orchard, and Migliorelli Farms, these farms bringing apples to NYC Greenmarket farmers markets, and to the educational farms, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in nearby Westchester County and the Queens County Farm Museum, not too far from the site of Gresham Moore’s farm.
Posted on Thu, December 04, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Recently, our President, Josh Viertel, sat down with Gourmet’s Tracie McMillan and offered his thoughts on farming on the White House lawn, working in food justice, the growing youth food movement and the next chapter of Slow Food USA. Heres a sample, click here to read the full Q & A.
Tracie McMillan: Youve mostly worked as a farmer and an educator. How did you end up as president of Slow Food USA?
Joshua Viertel: Well before I was president of Slow Food USA, I was co director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. I came to Yale when there was no project there and developed this organization with a working farm, internships and fellowships, and educational programs with an emphasis on sustainability, food and agriculture, and the environment.
I had really wanted to move to California to do work in sustainability food agriculture and education. I essentially threw myself in front of Alice Waters and said, I want to move to California and help you do this. What can I do? And she said, Well, its too bad you want to move to California, because you really need to move to New Haven, Connecticuttheres a group of students there pushing to have sustainable food in the dining halls and create a small farm, and theyre at a point where they really need to hire someone who knows how to do this. And that should be you. I was really flattered and said, The truth is, I think I want to move to California. But then as I was leaving her office, I realized, No, that is just too amazing an opportunity to pass up. And I want to do it.
Id been on the board for Slow Food USA for probably a year and a half and stepped off of the board to apply for the [president] position. I just felt very blessed to get the offer in the end.
TM: Did you come to this work more out of a farm background, or were you a foodie?
JV: Both. I grew up in a family that loved, really loved, food, but my parents are not farm people. I was always drawn to that stuff as a little kid, and I always really cared about the environment. I was always deeply concerned about social-justice questions. And those were just these disparate things: I loved to eat and I loved to cook, I was interested in farms from a distance and physical work in the world, and the two problems that concerned me most were the environment and social justice. It took taking a year off school and working on farms for me to realize that the problems I cared about most were core problems that were linked to the food we eat and the way its produced.
Theres also an incredible amount of pleasure in it. For me, this was a great revelation. I figured out that by doing the things I loved, I could address the problems that bothered me the most. So thats really how I came to it, this combination of pleasure and responsibility.
Posted on Tue, December 02, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The fact that the EU won’t allow in most genetically engineered crops is a fairly good indication that there may be good reason to be skeptical about the healthfulness of genetically modified food in our food supply.
The USDA doesn’t think so. They would like to deregulate the use of genetically engineered corn, specifically “corn genetically engineered (GE) to produce a microbial enzyme that facilitates ethanol production.” Because ethanol as an alternative to oil still seems like a really good idea to them.
If you have a strong feeling either way about this, (i.e.: keep those deregulations coming! or I ain’t scared of no GE corn!) you have a forum to express it, directly to the USDA; they are having an open comment period through January 20th, 2009, and will actually read and register and consider all of your comments.
Make your voice heard by clicking here!
Posted on Mon, December 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gina Fiorello-Brady
Do you have a Slow Food In Schools Project? Do you want to start a Slow Food In Schools Project? Weve come across a few funding opportunities for our chapters and project leaders.
Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb to Support Garden Programs.
Deadline: February 17, 2009
Launched in 2003, Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb has awarded grants totaling more than $300,000 to over a hundred community groups, schools, churches, and other organizations for their garden programs. This year, the program will award grants to twenty organizations in the United States and Canada. Each grantee will receive up to $1,500 in Fiskars garden tools and up to $800 in gardening-related materials (i.e. green goods). Gardens and/or gardening projects geared toward community involvement, neighborhood beautification, sustainable agriculture, and/or horticultural education are eligible. Community garden groups as well as schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, and treatment facilities are all encouraged to apply.
General Mills Champion for Health Kids
Deadline: January 15, 2009
The General Mills Foundation, in partnership with the American Dietetic Association Foundation and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, developed the Champions for Healthy Kids grant program in 2002. Each year since inception, the General Mills Foundation awards 50 grants of $10,000 each to community-based groups that develop creative ways to help youth adopt a balanced diet and physically active lifestyle.