What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, July 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
I sure like reading about new young farmers, and I like them to get recognition for their work. I like them to be treated like rock stars and I like the idea that this will encourage and inspire even more young hopefuls to do like the newspapers say is the big new trend, and start farming.
Congrats to all!
Posted on Mon, July 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Kurt Michael Friese (this post originally appeared on Grist)
Grinnell Heritage Farm is 152 years old. Andrew Dunham is the fifth generation of his family to work this land about 50 miles east of Des Moines. He is a direct descendant of Josiah Grinnell, founder of the town and the man Horace Greeley once famously quoted as having said, Go west, young man, go west. Andrew and his wife Melissa are a few months shy of receiving their formal certification as an organic farm.
Across the road, due north of their land, is a field of corn that is managed by the nearby Monsanto seed corn plant. In Iowa and anywhere commodity corn is grown, it is common practice around this time of year to use chemicals to control fungus. Often this is accomplished via the use of aerial application, commonly referred to as cropdusting. On July 6th, a rustic-looking old biplane swooped in to spray Monsantos field. To put it mildly, the pilots bombardiering skills were not what one would hope.
Dunhams crew was in the field picking broccoli and spinruts (turnip backwardsa Japanese form of the root vegetable). They witnessed the plane as it failed to shut off its spray mechanism in time, and the fungicide drifted into their tree planting and hay field. The hay ground is in the third year of transition and would have become organically certified on September 1st, Andrew said. Now, probably not.
Youd think that this would be a clear-cut cause of action, as the legal folks would put it. But the clever folks at Monsanto hire the crop dusters as contractors, and they in turn use a corporate shell with no assets, so when something like this happens and a victim sues, they simply file bankruptcy and then form a new corporation.
Iowa is the single most radically altered landscape in the country. No state has changed more since the arrival of European settlers, and today the land is heavily mono-cropped. Nature abhors a lack of diversity, but pathogens love it so farmers respond with more and stronger chemicals to fight off the bugs and weeds and fungi. No one owns the airspace, so planes can fly over any land they choose. Even if the pilots are incredibly accurate, Iowa is a windy place (thus the massive increase in wind energy production here in recent years). Drift is practically inevitable.
Posted on Fri, July 17, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA campaign intern Leah Gorham
Slow Food chapters, members, and non-members alike from coast to coast have started to come up with fantastic and creative ideas for Eat-ins as part of the Time For Lunch campaigns National Eat-In on Labor Day, September 7th, 2009.
A perfect example comes from the leaders of the Slow Food Russian River chapter in Sonoma County, California, who are deeply committed to getting real food into schools. The chapter is joining forces with Landpaths, a local organization that established a small community farm in a park in an urban Latino neighborhood. By partnering with Landpaths, Slow Food Russian River found both a prime location for an Eat-In—Bayer Farm—and a way to demonstrate the connection between local food production and the value it provides to the community.
The event will be a potluck-style picnic but will also offer up delectable homemade tamales and roasted goat tacos, with ingredients for the salsa sourced directly from Bayer Farm. There will be self-guided tour info stations scattered around the property, with information in both Spanish and English. So far, the expected attendance is around three hundred people, including chapter members, community members, volunteers, members of the California School Garden Network, and local legislators and officials. The Slow Food Chapter has even managed to snag a VIP guest speaker - Maria Echaveste, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton. Representatives from Landpaths, Slow Food Russian River and the California School Garden Network will also give short talks at the event.
Many more great events like this one are being planned all over the country for Time for Lunch. Eat-Ins like the one Slow Food Russian River is planning illustrate the benefits of partnering with local organizations and planning an event that fits the local culture. An event like this draws high levels of local interest, is fun for all of those involved, and has the power to bring a community together in a positive way.
Keep up the great work in planning Eat-Ins for the Time for Lunch National Eat-In on September 7th. If we act now, we have the power to make lasting change (and have fun in the process)!
Posted on Thu, July 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gabrielle Redner
Not only does Catherine Gund’s film, What’s On Your Plate? educates its audience about where our food comes from, it also investigates why getting good food to all people all the time is challenging. The audience follows two seventh graders as they make the journey that food takes, from the farm to CSAs and farmer’s markets, to schools and into the home. Sadie and Safiyah meet all the people involved in feeding the tremendous appetite of nine million New Yorkers. Throughout the film, the girls explore some essential questions: Why does food that is bad for us exist? Why can’t everyone eat healthy, non-processed food all the time?
The timing for this film’s debut could not have been better, as we team up to reform the Child Nutrition Act. Identifying what must be changed seems simple, but taking those steps means overcoming many hurdles, educating key people, raising money, and building networks across the food chain to get the job done.
Sadie and Safiyah know that more fresh fruits and vegetables, even local ones, should be in their school lunchroom. Why aren’t they? For starters, the school kitchen doesn’t have a stove, so cooking is out of the question. They need the money to buy one, and the staff to cook rather than heat up frozen meals. Sadie and Safiyah soon realize that, even with good intentions, change takes time. In this timely film, two twelve year-olds teach all of us a lesson on how to ask questions and build a team. While they are often two against one in their interviews, they do not intimidate. (Not only because they are middle school girls; that could still be scary!). They ask questions to policy makers with open-mindedness and genuine curiosity, and receive candid responses. Ultimately, the girls bring people together to work towards a city filled with better food.
Gund’s film offers enlightenment to all kinds of audiences. Those who know little about the sources of their food learn about farming and the processes of urban food distribution, as well as basic differences between processed and real food. Others who are more familiar with our food system will discover why we cannot fix its broken pieces all at once.
The subplot of this film is the networking amongst like-minded individuals, who all believe in feeding good food to all people. This is a must-see movie. Be ready to laugh, to learn and to be warmed by the sense of community amongst people who love real food. For more about the movie, click here go to their web site.
Gabrielle is a former Slow Food USA intern and an undergraduate student at NYU who enjoys, among other things, food, writing, traveling and the ocean.
Posted on Wed, July 15, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
She planted a garden. The food movement gasped, and then held its breath. “What next?,” we’ve all wondered hopefully, and today Jane Black wonders, too, in the Washington Post.
Obama’s policy director (Barack’s, that is, right?) is quoted: ” ‘Accessibility and affordability has always been part of the message,” Frye said. “It’s why we partner with elementary school kids. You pierce through all the constituencies and say, ‘It’s about kids.’ ”
Also quoted are organic, Inc. author Sam Fromartz, the amazing Tony Geraci, director of food service at the Baltimore City Public Schools, and our very own Josh Viertel: “The more they can tell the story of what they’re doing, the better it will be,” said Slow Food’s Viertel. “If they can let people see a family meal, if people see that the busiest man in the world takes time to sit down with his kids for dinner, that could have an incredible impact.”
Posted on Wed, July 15, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA Biodiversity Intern Regina Fitzsimmons
“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”
- Mark Twain
This September, kitchens in Portland, Maine and the surrounding towns will smell of warm apple sauce and sweet chutneys. John Bunkers CSA, christened Out on a Limb will officially begin September 2nd and continue until November 11th. John grows many historic apple varieties called old-timey or heirloom apples, as well as unusual, new varieties. Neighbors have frequently asked John if they could get their hands on some to taste-test them in sauces and pies.
In response to consumer demand, John compiled a list of orchards around New England that grow heirloom apples. But he soon realized that a list, while extremely valuable, wasnt practical for families seeking rare apples from a next-door source; many of these orchards are in the countryside, making it difficult for people to frequently visit.
After talking to friends in Portland, ME, John started thinking seriously about starting a CSA. Ive been on the lookout for ideas for how to make the more unusual varieties more accessible to a wider range of people, he said. When he talked to his chef friends, he thought of an additional bonus: if chefs subscribed and started using these rare varieties in their cooking and listed the apples on their menus, it would get peoplethe eaters”seeing and talking about them. People would learn what apples are great in pies, or tarts and sauces. In effect, people would become more educated about apple history, uses and varieties.
Posted on Tue, July 14, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA intern Reece Trevor
Slow Food USA will profile a number of our 2008 Slow Food in Schools Micro-Grant recipients in the coming months. Look out for these profiles, along with best practice suggestions for Slow Food in Schools projects from our 2008 Micro-Grant recipients, which will be housed on the Youth Programs page this fall.
For nearly three years, kids in Bennington, Vermont, have been getting a kind of education that doesntsadlyappear in most school curricula. The Blooming Chefs program, in partnership with Bennington Colleges Quantum Leap educational lab, takes an ambitious approach towards reconnecting young people with their education, their food, and their planet. Blooming Chefs, along with several other organizations, runs the Bennington Student Community Garden, a local teaching garden where kids can get their hands dirty and learn where the food on their plates came from. Its leaders have started classroom gardens at a number of nearby elementary schools, making sure that teachers can easily incorporate food education into their daily lesson plans.
Blooming Chefs is certainly part of the sweeping trend of community gardens, but its work doesnt stop there. Director Carol Adinolfi writes that her organization aims to promote active, responsible citizenship from every possible angle. Practically speaking, that means that Blooming Chefs also addresses how food plays into literature, history, culture, and art. Like most Slow Food in Schools projects around the country, Blooming Chefs relies heavily on volunteer support, and the Bennington community certainly hasnt disappointed. Local businesses have offered financial aid, parents weed and harvest alongside their children, and Bennington College students help out as volunteer interns.
With support from Slow Food USAs Garden-to-Table micro-grant program, Blooming Chefs recently published a cookbook drawn from its students experiences. The cookbook is impressive on its own, but even more so because its the result of a community working together. Blooming Chefs biggest strength is that it gets a remarkable cross-section of the Bennington community united to teach kids about good, clean, and fair food. Adinolfi herself puts it best: this is a powerful inter-linking of organizations working towards common goals.
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Posted on Tue, July 14, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Deborah Lehmann is an editor of School Lunch Talk, a blog about school food. She is currently studying economics and public policy at Brown University.
Ever wonder what the Obama daughters eat for school lunch? Its a far cry from the packaged burritos and the slices of frozen pizza served in most public school cafeterias. Students at Sidwell Friends eat lemon herb baked chicken, tuscan white bean soup, local arugula and herb salad and shrimp creole. One of the favorite entrees across the board is pesto pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables.
Ive been trying to understand for a while why that menu is so strikingly different from the ones in public schools across the country. Is it because Sidwell is a private school? Is it because the
meal program there has a bigger budget? Is it because Sasha, Malia and other students at Sidwell come from families that prioritize good food and pay attention to health?
I had an opportunity last week to talk to Leslie Phillips, the director of business development for Meriwhether Godsey, which runs school lunch at Sidwell and 36 other schools on the East coast. The answer, she said, is none of those. Its not public versus private, Phillips told me. Its all-inclusive versus getting kids to buy.
In many but not all private schools, school lunch is mandatory (or, as Phillips likes to say, all-inclusive.) All students pay for meals upfront as part of their tuition, and theyre covered for the year. In these schools, the menu is in the hands of the adults, Phillips said. Of course, they take into account what kids like to eat and strive to offer a variety of foods. But if they dont want to sell chips or French fries, they dont have to.
Posted on Mon, July 13, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Robyn OBrien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It
As headlines swirl and climates whirl
And Wall Street finds its feet
Theres one refrain that doesnt change
Mommy, whats there to eat?
Well listen child, Ill tell you what,
Thats no small query there.
Come over here, and sit right down,
In fact, pull up a chair.
Your question, dear one, though you ask,
With all good heart intended,
Is fraught with complications that
Arent often comprehended.
What we call food is not the same
As what our grandmas ate.
Would she have had yellow 5 & 6
On her childs dinner plate?
What about acesulfame potassium?
Can you pronounce that, love?
Did grandmother have a jar of that
In her cupboards up above?
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Posted on Mon, July 13, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Your mentors (Pollan, Nestle, Lappe) have urged you to eat more plants and less meat, for the health of ourselves and the health of our planet. You have, perhaps, nodded in agreement, then forked in another mouthful of meat.
How to put your money where you mouth is?
Many find that making a declaration or taking a pledge can help firm up their commitment and hold them accountable. This Monday, I introduce to you the Meatless Monday pledge. The Meatless Monday campaign is an initiative created in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
The website dishes up the facts—on personal and environmental health benefits—as well as tips, incentives, recipes etc. and summer is a great time to begin—when farm fresh produce is abundant and delicious.
Take the pledge today; make this Monday your first meatless Monday.