What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, March 31, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
As reported on the CIW website, Florida Governor Charlie Crist met with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers yesterday, issuing a statement of support that CIW calls “groundbreaking.”
Many thanks to all of the Slow Food USA members and readers of this blog who wrote emails and letters to Crist’s office.
To read more about the meeting, click here.
Bonus blog highlight! A link to World Hunger Year’s site and Immokalee delegation member Siena Chrisman’s thorough account of the trip.
One piece from her post really gets at how CIW’s work is important not just because of what it is accomplishing for the tomato pickers of Immokalee but the implications for the larger food movement as well:
“Delegation member Jim Goodman, a Wisconsin family farmer, found many similarities between his dairy farming community and the Immokalee workers. His neighbors’ milk prices have remained virtually unchanged since 1978, and their livelihoods are beholden to the market price for milk-in much the same way as the workers are beholden to wages set by the tomato growers. Pointing to the Coalition’s successful grassroots organizing tactics and participatory governance, Goodman said, ‘As a small farmer, I have a lot to learn from this organization.’”
Posted on Tue, March 31, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food staffer Deena Goldman recently had the opportunity to chat with Gail Wadsworth, Slow Food chapter leader and new staff member at the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. Gails work is helping to create healthy and viable futures for veterans by offering them resources, tools and mentorships to get them connected to food and farming communities around the country. Read about Gails work in our Q&A.
DG: What is the goal of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition?
GW: There are 2 million veterans returning to the US our goal is to reach 10,000 of those veterans, and to create 10,000 new farmers. That’s only a half of one percent but 10,000 new farmers could really make a big difference!
We are setting up a networks of farmers, and to help our veterans find a place within our food and farming communities. We have a growing list of veterans who want to get into farming and we would like to set up a network of experienced farmers who can serve as their mentors. We think its really important to draw on the current knowledge base of farmers. We are starting with the people we know and creating connections with potential partners to use their networks to outreach. We want to work with people who abide by good, clean and fair values, with an emphasis on the fair.
DG: Where is your work done?
GW: We are headquarted in northern California but we are working all across America. Eventually we want to create a coalition of organizations around the country who will employ a Veterans Outreach Coordinator to do this work around. Were drawing on communities that we wouldnt normally have any contact with why would people in food and farming otherwise be in touch with the Vietnam Veterans of America? But theyve been extremely supportive. Weve tapped into this community that would not normally be tuned in to sustainable agriculture.
Posted on Fri, March 27, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Everybody’s asking: “what’s up with H.R. 875 ( a bill proposed in response to recent large-scale and well-publicized food safety problems)? Why am I getting hysterical emails and phone calls?” On this matter we direct you to our trusted colleagues.
1. Food and Water Watch breaks down the bill clearly and effectively, letting us know what it does and doesn’t do. Their verdict=don’t panic, but do pay attention.
“There is plenty of evidence that one-size-fits-all regulation only tends to work for one size of agriculture the largest industrialized operations. Thats why it is important to let members of Congress know how food safety proposals will impact the conservation, organic, and sustainable practices that make diversified, organic, and direct market producers different from agribusiness. And the work doesnt stop there if Congress passes any of these bills, the FDA will have to develop rules and regulations to implement the law, a process that we cant afford to ignore.
But simply shooting down any attempt to fix our broken food safety system is not an approach that works for consumers, who are faced with a food supply that is putting them at risk and regulators who lack the authority to do much about it.”
2. Tom Philpott, over at Grist urges those of us in the sustainable food movement to resist baseless hysteria and focus on what’s there, quoting the Organic Consumer Association and saying “Quite sensibly, the OCA wants Congress to avoid “one-size-fits-all legislation.” Regulations that make sense for a 1000-acre spinach farm could push a diversified operation that includes spinach in its crop mix out of business. Sustainable-food advocates should oppose H.R. 875 until it adds scale-appropriate language. But effective opposition does not mean indulging in fictional rants about it. There’s no evidence that the bill aims to end farming; insisting that it does destroys credibility.”
In fact, it sounds like H.R. 759 is more pernicious, and actually, much more likely to pass (word on the street is that H.R. 875 doesn’t have legs). We recommend writing your legislators about your desire to see scale-appropriate language added to both bills—perhaps including exemptions for small farms. However, it is important that we avoid hysteria and untruths, and focus on the facts.
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Posted on Wed, March 25, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan
(all photos courtesy of Mark Dohm)
Perhaps it was hard at first to know whether the antique in the phrase, antique apple experts, referred to the apples or to the experts. But when the Hall of Famers of the Heirloom Apple Kingdom gathered on March 19th at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum outside of Madison, it was clear that the so-called old-timers invited had much to say about the current status of and future prospects for old-timey apples. Between them, they had more than 350 years growing, pruning, propagating and tasting uncommon American apples, thereby constituting a sort of Buena Vista Social Club for these forgotten fruits.
And so, the Forgotten Fruits Summit organized by the Renewing Americas Food Traditions alliance became the first full gathering of Americas most accomplished back-country fruit explorers, veteran orchard-keepers, horticultural historians, pomological propagators, natural-born nurserymen and hard cider-makers concerned with the destiny of Malus X domestica, the single fruit most imbedded in the American identity. Their task was to determine the best means of restoring apple diversity to our farms, roadhouses, backyards and kitchens, and to revive apple culture in all its dimensions on this continent.
Posted on Wed, March 25, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
We were happy to see Food Democracy Now’s Dave Murphy featured by Jane Black in the Washington Post.
Remember the Food Democracy Now petition for the “sustainable 6” for Secretary of Agriculture, that in just a few short weeks garnered 87,000 signatures? That was created by Dave Murphy. Were you floored with his foresight and flexibility in morphing the petition into a “sustainable dozen,” once the Secretary of Ag was spoken for? Riding the momentum and creating a longer list that had two of the eventual appointees on it? We were.
Check out the article here.
Posted on Tue, March 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today I’m interviewing Poppy Tooker. Poppy is the founder of Slow Food New Orleans, a chef, a food activist, the chair emeritus of Slow Food USAs Ark of Taste Committee, and the author of the just-released Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook
among other things. I mean, what hasn’t this woman done?
The book is self-published by marketumbrella.org, an independent New Orleans-based non-profit that brings vendors and shoppers together to preserve local culture, generate wealth and support the local economy, with its central axis being the Crescent City Farmers Market. When you buy your copy of the book from marketumbrella.org, not only will 100% of net proceeds go to benefit the work of marketumbrella.org; in addition, you can request that Poppy personalize your book with a message!
Q: Reading the cookbook, I was struck that what you have there in New Orleans is not just a market, but a community built around food. Can you tell us a bit about that community, and how it came to be?
Tooker: People in New Orleans truly live to eat. When visitors come to the city they find that hard to believe…Ive had people say that they just stand still on a street corner and listen to the conversations of people as they walk by and what they are all talking about is food. As arguably the greatest food city in the US, it goes hand in hand that we would also care about where our food comes from.
Richard McCarthy [Executive Director of marketumbrella.org] knew that we needed a real food market that could create a real sense of community, more than a place to just buy food. We created guidelines that in order to be part of our market, you have to produce the food that you bring, and we only sell food at our market. The farmers from the Northshore were very suspicious about coming across the lake, but Richard sweet-talked them and that is how our little food community began.
Posted on Mon, March 23, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Farm fresh food often gets a bad rap for being more expensive. Better school food? “More expensive,” think most. Think again: in Oregon state lawmakers are looking for ways to stimulate the local economy, and it turns out that locally produced food in 91 school lunchrooms may be one way to do it. Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation has analyzed investing in the local food economy and discovered that:
1. A small amount of money can leverage much greater investment in local purchasing.
2. For every food dollar spent locally by two school districts, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon.
3. The economic investments in the Oregon agricultural community trigger successive spending in almost every part of the Oregon economy.
Deborah Kane the Vice President of the Food and Farms program for Ecotrust says, “This research confirms that the farm-to-school programs are a viable investment that can make an immediate impact on nearly every sector of our state’s economy.”
And that’s not all. The study noted other benefits including a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and an increased demand for local products. For example, apples, beef, chili, cheese and corn are now sourced locally. As a result of these positive benefits, two Oregon legislators are now proposing a bill to expand from the current two school districts to a statewide farm to school effort.
To read more about the study, click here.
Posted on Fri, March 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This Sunday, March 22nd is World Water Day, and there are a bunch of ways you get involved.
Don‘t: buy a big plastic bottle of brand name water and toast your friends.
Do: Drink from the tap!
According to the World Health Organization, 1.7 billion people lack access to clean water, and 2.3 billion people suffer from water-borne diseases each year. The supply of water in the world is shrinking the freshwater supply is being depleted by water-intensive agriculture, population growth, industrial pollution and many other ecological threats.
World Water Day is an international day chosen by the U.N. In 1992 to highlight the importance of the sustainable management of freshwater and freshwater resources. Our friends at Food and Water Watch have put together a short list of activities you can participate in to support water conservation and to educate ourselves.
Posted on Fri, March 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
You’ve seen it in the New York Times. You’ve seen it jubilantly posted on your friends’ profiles on Facebook. You’ve flipped the pages of your Washington Post over, asking, “Am I reading ‘The Onion?’”
It’s actually true. That’s real news you’re reading: the Obamas are planting an organic vegetable garden on the White House Lawn. And the groundbreaking ceremony is today. Awesome.
Per Kitchen Gardeners international’s Press Release:
100,000 Applaud Announcement of a New White House Food Garden
Environment, Nations Food System and People’s Health Stand to Benefit
(Scarborough, Maine) 100,000 people signed a petition asking the Obamas to replant a Victory Garden at the White House, and recent news reports indicate that they are about to reap what they sowed.
For advocates of sustainable and healthy foods, this harvest of good news was as welcome as the summers first red-ripe tomato. Im thrilled for the Obama family and for all who will be inspired by their example to grow gardens of their own this year, said Roger Doiron, founder of the nonprofit Kitchen Gardeners International and leader of the successful petition campaign, Eat the View.
Launched in February 2008, Eat the View proposed that the Obamas replant a White House Victory Garden while planting a few extra rows for the hungry. The campaign used viral videos and social networking technologies like Facebook to grow a large support base, attract international media attention and help inspire a larger grassroots effort. In January, 2009, Eat the View won the On Day One contest sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, beating out 4,000 other entries and resulting in thousands of messages being sent to the White House in support of its proposal.
Posted on Thu, March 19, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Meet Andy and Hilda Byrd, Terra Madre 2008 delegates who are organic farmers not too far from Atlanta, Georgia. They see their farm as an opportunity to educate children, preserve disappearing heirlooms, and responsibly and sustainably steward the land.
by Andy Byrd
With me being in the wheelchair, attending Terra Madre provided some challenges with transportation, electrical conversion, and a few other obstacles, but thank you Slow Food for giving us the opportunity to be a small part of such a huge movement. It was great being around so many different individuals from different countries who have the same purpose: providing good traditional, healthy food for our people! We left Terra Madre 2008 knowing that we are doing the right thing on our farm by educating children of all ages about sustainable farming and being good stewards of the land. In 1997, my wife, Hilda, and I were led to land near our hometown. We ultimately bought 74 acres near Walnut Grove, GA. The farm was named Whippoorwill Hollow Organic Farm after the Whippoorwill birds that flourish on the property. A seed was planted.
Blueberry bushes and other fruit trees were already established on the farm so we began with a pick-your-own blueberry business. Today, we operate an on-farm store that sells produce and organic feed. We have Community Support Agriculture (CSA), sell produce at the Morningside and Decatur Farmers Market, and we market to Atlanta restaurants supporting local farmers in search of fresh, organic food.