What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, December 14, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Emily Stephenson
Healthy People is a government document that you probably havent heard about, unless you run in the public health world. But you should, because its an important document. Through collaboration from various government agencies as well as academics and experts, it provides:
Science-based, 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease. Since 1979, Healthy People has set and monitored national health objectives to meet a broad range of health needs, encourage collaborations across sectors, guide individuals toward making informed health decisions, and measure the impact of our prevention activity. (From the Healthy People website.)
The process of developing these public health objectives is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They rewrite the document every 10 years, and happen to be doing it right now. Its a public process, so ordinary citizens like you and me can get involved.
The development process tries to maximize transparency, public input and dialogue to ensure that it is relevant to diverse public health needs. The process has successfully promoted cross-agency collaboration within the federal government, and provides a model for individual states and metropolitan areas policies. The project isnt perfect, and as grown in size (some would say unwieldy) and has a long list of objectives (up to 467 in 2000, only 21% of which it achieved) that dont have the data behind them to show progress.
That being said, now until the end of the year is the time to let the government know what its public health priorities should be for the next 10 years. The document has a very promising focus on preventative care, and there are quite a few objectives about healthy food, such as removing junk food from schools and offering more fresh produce, and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and whole grains among the general population. They also aim to address food deserts, though it looks like they could use some help in this area. Sign up and let Healthy People 2020 know what you think!
Healthy People Comments (Open until December 31)
Posted on Fri, December 11, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Alaine Janosy
The Guinea hog, once a prevalent family pig in the southeastern United States, is today considered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) to be a critically endangered species. Post-World War II, as industrial pork production increased and other imported breeds, such as the Vietnamese potbellied pig, took over the niche formally held by the Guinea hog, prevalence of this native swine began to decline. Slow Food Charleston, in conjunction with a local farmer/breeder, Gra Moore, a local executive chef, Craig Deihl, and ALBC, is working to improve the breeds numbers and help kick-start a market for the meat.
In 2005 there were only about 75 Guinea hogs nationwide, but now, just four years later, as a result of dedicated re-population efforts, there are about 300 on farms throughout the country, a fourfold increase. Although this number does not warrant the pigs being considered ready for prime time sales and distribution, it is large enough for some of the pigs to start being processed and selectively bred for traits that will best allow the hogs to thrive and be marketed.
According to ALBC Research & Technical Programs Manager, Jeannette Beranger, Slow Food Charleston was a perfect promotional partner for the Guinea hog because having a connection to place is essential when trying to repopulate an endangered breed and Charleston is at the heart of the breeds historical location. More than just promoting the hog, the chapter is also working to help Gra make raising these animals a profitable investment for his farm.
Slow Food Charlestons chapter leader, Carole Addlestone, was able to coordinate Gra bringing one of his Guinea hogs to Craig Deihl at Cypress Lowcountry Grille as part of a tasting. Craig wrote about his experience with the Guinea hog on his blog in two separate posts Project American Guinea hog and Project American Guinea hog part 2. He mentions being stunned that a pig this small could have so much fat and that Gra knows how to raise a pig that makes a chef smile. Both of these sentiments bode well for the future of the Guinea hog, particularly in professional kitchens and on restaurant menus.
Posted on Thu, December 10, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This year, in honor of Slow Foods 20th anniversary, we celebrate Terra Madre Daya day for celebrating eating locally, and honoring our local food communities.
Unfortunately today we also bring news of a Terra Madre community that has been adversely affected by extreme weather, an occurrence that has become all too familiar, especially to our Terra Madre communities in Georgia who have been hit especially hard this year.
A tornado barreled through the area around Ranger, GA on Tuesday evening, and destroyed the infrastructure of Riverview Farm, a family-owned farm beloved by the local community. Four of their barns were destroyed along with a grain elevator; luckily, their houses, animals and tractors are intact. Right now, the Swancy family is facing many unknowns as they begin to assess the damages and to save their grain crop, which is intact for now but needs to be moved before it is destroyed by rain.
Slow Food chapter leaders and members in Georgia and Tennessee have already rallied around the family, ready to provide help and support. This is not the first time this food and farming community has rallied around their farmers in the wake of a natural disaster: earlier this fall, many small farms in the Atlanta area were devastated by flooding. The chapter in Atlanta took swift action to set up the Georgia Flooded Farms Relief Fund and thanks to many generous donations, the fund is in the process of providing monetary help to eleven family farms in the region.
Slow Food Atlanta leaders received news of the devastation to Riverview Farms, they decided to transition to a general disaster relief fund to help small, sustainable GA farms who are affected by tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters. The chapter will develop a new application and a rolling disbursement process. Stay tuned to hear more about their efforts to help Riverview Farms and other small family farms rebound after losses.
To make a donation, click here.
Posted on Thu, December 10, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Jessie Weiland
Some time ago I received a call from my father back home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hed just returned from an urban bike trek through inner city Milwaukee and was now in an angered emotional state bordering on manic distress. Its just not right. You shouldnt have to go miles from your neighborhood to find an apple, he raged. His rant on his futile hunt for food of the healthy variety was heightened by his newfound dedication to a diet. I could picture his hands wildly dancing above his head now, I just wanted an apple. I walked past a Chick-A-Lils, a Mickey Ds, a Burger Kingthere must have been at least 15 different fried food places and not one fruit store. I then listened to him vividly outline his plans to open up a fruit and nut stand in the area of concern, ӅAnd Id call the store, The Health Nut!!!
My fathers dissatisfaction with inner-city food availability was valid; its a dissatisfaction echoing across America in cities and rural areas alike and sadly, reflecting our thickening waistlines. Last year, food insecurity was a daily reality for 14.6 percent of Americans . Now, as we draw the lines between health care and food choices, let us also make the connection between food environments, the fundamental ability to make healthy decisions, and income. According to the New York Department of City Planning the availability healthy, fresh food directly corresponds with income and consequently, skyrocketing obesity rates.
Last month, the advocacy group PolicyLink hosted a webinar on the subject called, An Apple a Day: Bringing Healthy Food to All Communities. The call kicked off with PolicyLink president, Judith Bell. She showed a series of compelling maps that outlined this fundamental issue: that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is lowest in low-income neighborhoods where obesity and diabetes cases are high. In these areas where there are higher obesity rates, healthy food choices are far and few in betweenThere are fewer supermarkets and fruit and veggie stands, and more fast food retailers and convince food stores. For people in neighborhoods suffering from a lack of nutritious food and at the mercy of the flood of fast food joints, funding is a major obstacle for development. According to Judith Bell, past efforts have not solved this giant failure in the market. Studies from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene state that now approximately 3 million New Yorkers live in these underserved, high needs neighborhoods. And thats just New York.
Posted on Wed, December 09, 2009 by Nathan Leamy
Back in October when I began tracking everything I ate in a month using twitter, I had no idea what the list would reveal. I’d like to think my eating is pretty deliberate, so I never would have guessed how much I would learn about my eating habits - and myself - through this project. The idea was originally to help me remember everything I had eaten in the past - but it has also made me think more and more about where my next meal would come from.
While I could have just written a list the old fashioned way, I decided to take this into the digital world to exploit fun analysis tools and the ability to share. This graph shows higher word frequency by increased size. The easiest thing to notice is that I eat a lot - and I have a sweet tooth. My coworkers and roommates have long harangued me for my big meals. When you look at my eating over 54 days I was eating an average of only 4.37 meals times a day. I don’t snack much - I have a large breakfast, large lunch, sometimes a mid-afternoon snack, a mid-sized dinner, and always a dessert. I ate the most on Mondays (when my roommate was always home to eat with me) and the least on Saturdays (when I would usually cook a brunch and dinner and nothing more).
My spending stayed mainly local. I spent a slightly larger percent of my income on food in October than September - 13.11% - likely because of higher prices of produce as the summer’s bounty waned and because I had several restaurant-frequenting guests in town. The breakdown of where my money was spent stayed pretty similar to the preceding months:
Posted on Tue, December 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
When he was on the campaign trail, President Obama pledged, “Well tell ConAgra that its not the Department of Agribusiness. Its the Department of Agriculture. Were going to put the peoples interests ahead of the special interests. Given such strong language, a lot of people were surprised and dismayed at the October nomination of Islam Siddiqui—a former pesticide lobbyist and vice president for CropLife America—to the important post of Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.
90,000 people signed a petition asking the president to stick to his campaign promise to stop the revolving door between industry and government. The protest got noticed by the media. Even the New York Times weighed in, recommending “tough questions” at Siddiqui’s Senate confirmation hearing.
Nonetheless, Siddiqui is still on track for confirmation. He will likely pass through committee this week to a full Senate vote. After that, his confirmation could happen within hours. We must act now to derail the nomination. If one person calls their Senator for every ten that signed the petition, we will make that revolving door much squeakier than it’s been in a long time.
Click here to contact your Senator.
Posted on Tue, December 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Heather Teige
As promised, a report on the November activities of our Slow Food on Campus chapters!
This past month, the chapters focused on the “fair” part of Slow Food USAs mission (“good, clean and fair food”), as part of a national effort to raise awareness of this mission on college campuses this fall. SFOC chapters teamed up with Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA), a national network of students working to end modern-day slavery in the fields.
SFOC chapters hosted fair trade Thanksgiving potlucks to share and enjoy food that was produced justly, as well as to help educate their communities on the importance of fair food. They organized excursions to local farms that use fair farm labor and discussed how food produced under these conditions often results in a higher quality product. They hosted fair trade coffee tastings to promote local initiatives that help integrate fair trade coffee into their communities, and they screened the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) documentary in order to start a dialogue about current labor practices in our food system, and how we can work to change them for the better.
Many of the SFOC chapters have begun to tell the stories of their successes and we are excited to share these on the SFOC page on our web site.
Posted on Mon, December 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
A few weeks ago our wise intern Emily Stephenson suggested the White House garden get hip to hoop house growing and extend their growing season. You’ll never guess what happened!
In Emily’s words:
Last week the White House put up hoop houses, and just in time for this weekend’s snowfall in DC. The houses are about two feet high, and made with environmentally friendly material as opposed to the standard plastic. According to Obama foodorama, the garden is currently growing lettuces, cabbage, winter radishes, onions, broccoli, turnips, and carrots. It should continue to do so right through to spring, unless DC goes into a deep-freeze or gets a decent snowfall.
[photo courtesy of Obama foodorama]
Posted on Thu, December 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Intern Alaine Janosy
After spending over an hour speaking with Maureen Marinkovich and Linda Degnan Cobos, chapter leaders of Slow Food Land and Sea, I wanted to jump on a plane to San Juan Island and become a member of their chapter; their passion and enthusiasm was infectious!
Living in a small island community, both Maureen and Linda are acutely aware of how decreases in biodiversity negatively impact their community, and therefore they focus a lot of their events and activities around the importance of a biologically diverse food supply.
Maureen and her husband Matt are fishermen by trade so they have a vested interest in maintaining the health of the waters around San Juan Island and the wild salmon that live in those waters. As soon as we started talking about salmon, Matt jumped on the phone to tell me how salmon farming affects local wild salmon stocks. Fish farms are breeding grounds for sea lice. These lice infest the water that newly hatched wild salmon must pass through since most fish farms use open net cage systems. The young salmon lack scales and other natural defenses that allow adult salmon to combat parasitic sea lice, so many of them die. (Matt also sent me this illustrative video produced by Watershed Watch.) Salmon stocks are so low this year that Maureen and her husband will not be fishing for sockeye in the Puget Sound. To raise awareness about the salmon situation, Matt leads filleting demonstrations in the community and with the Land and Sea Slow Food Youth Club, demonstrating how to properly fillet one of his fresh-caught wild salmon and teaching people about the threats to wild salmon. As always, a threat to wild salmon is more than just a threat to one natural resource, it is a threat to the entire ecosystem. Depletion of wild salmon affects the plants and animals that rely on them for food, the native people for whom the salmon are not only a food source but also a source of tradition, and the livelihood of commercial fishermen.
Posted on Tue, December 01, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Catherine King, first published on her blog
Findlay Market in Cincinnati, Ohio is the oldest continuously operating market in the state, and it’s also one of the most forward-thinking. Last year, facing a shrinking Ohio farming population and a growing demand for local produce in urban farm markets, Findlay Market manager Cynthia Brown and colleagues came up with a solution. They applied for a USDA grant and created the “Cultivating Healthy Entrepreneurs and Farmers” (CHEF) program; with the goal of turning vacant community lots into working urban farms, and in turn providing business opportunities for members of the local Latino immigrant population.
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The CHEF approach is both innovative, inclusive and, to my mind, an excellent example of a creative solution that addresses a range of issues facing our communities and food systems. And there is better news. Though Denvir’s story ran just a few weeks ago, in the time since he produced it CHEF has received a $219,000 USDA grant to expand the program, and in August four more Cincinnati lots were donated for use as urban farms. So while in 2009 CHEF employed four farmers on two plots of land, the new grant will allow them to double their impact in 2010; training and equipping up to ten growers on six plots of land.
Though it can be overwhelming to consider all of the challenges facing our food system and the people whose lives are intimately connected to producing the food we all eat, programs like CHEF are a reminder that solutions do exists, and that it’s up to us to put them in place.