What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, February 15, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Thanks to Cathy Erway I right now have bread dough rising on my kitchen counter. 3 years ago I read Mark Bittmans NY Times article with Jim Laheys phenomenally easy bread recipe, but it took sitting down with Erways new book, The Art of Eating In, for me to get cracking.
Right around when I was reading Bittmans article, Cathy Erway was making a radical decision; in this capital of restaurants, in this city of buying and spending, she was going to stay in and cook. Every night for 2 years. So while other twentysomethings blogged about which new restaurants theyd tried, she chronicled her home cooking adventures on Not Eating Out in New York. But there are a million home cooking blogs out therewhy did hers capture peoples imaginations? Why did it capture mine?
Well it turns out that the somewhat odd and haphazard parameters she set up for her experiment allowed her to explore (and then blog about) NYCs emerging DIY food renaissance. She discovered and then immersed herself in a world of cook-offs, takedowns, park foraging, underground supper clubs, and dinner parties. She even hung with the dumpster-diving freegans once or twice. In the process she became entrenched in a new community of bloggers and foodophiles, becoming a kind of mini-celebrity herself. You know, that girl who decided not to eat out anymore.
And this is a young girl, a cute girl. One who the fellas might want to take on a date. In this town, a date basically equals a restaurant trip. Whats a girl to do? I am reminded of the Beavans of No Impact Man, and how when they gave up eating out, they sort of fell in love with dinner parties and family time. Erway, too, reminds usboth on the blog and in her bookthat there are many more fun and creative ways to court a person than going to a restaurant. Her #25 reason for not eating out? Creative dating.
She also learned that if you are making your own food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you had better get good at it, and learn new techniques and discover your creative side. What she makes plain is that cooking is fun, yes, and delicious, yes. And it will also save you a hell of a lot of money. And youll also create less wastesomething she actually calculates, by ounce, in her book. And guess what, youll also probably spend more quality time with people, and build community and make new friends and be healthier all around. The blog and the book inspire through storytelling, hence the bread dough growing on my counter and the parsnip pancakes I am making for dinner tonight.
Posted on Fri, February 12, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
When it comes to our food system, everyone has a different wake up call. For Congresswoman Nita Lowey, it was reading about ammonia use in ground beef in the New York Times. A grandmother of eight and former healthy food advocate during her own children’s early years, Mrs. Lowey was horrified. She knew she must take further action.
As she rounded up food and health experts in the county to learn more, she called upon Slow Food Westchester to be part of the conversation. Mrs. Lowey had attended our Slow Food Eat-In on Labor Day at the Washington Irving School in Tarrytown along with 200 local residents. That event impressed her with our group’s ability to create community around advocating for better food in schools. Slow Food has done a great job in framing the conversation about food that is good, clean and fair.
Our meeting with Mrs. Lowey went well. We handed her more information on Slow Food’s mission and Slow Food’s national policy platform for the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. We also discussed the value of a better school lunch program in conjunction with the health care issues she is facing in Congress. We used the opportunity to hand her a booklet filled with letters written by kids and parents about school lunch. Reading these letters and hearing the stories of families impacted her in a way that no statistic on childrens health could. Congresswoman Lowey is now a passionate advocate for a better food system.
Over 20 years ago, Wendell Berry said, Eating is an agricultural act. It’s more true today than it ever was. But today, thanks to Michael Pollan and others, we also know that eating is a political act and that we vote with our forks every day. These days, when both personal and planetary health are on the line, it’s up to all of us to go beyond the end of our forks and roll up our sleeves to get involved. Writing a letter to your Congressional representative can be a great start to a deeper connection to your own government that will help result in real change for our nation’s food policy.
Both food and democracy work best when we are not just spectators but active participants.
Posted on Thu, February 11, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
Yesterday afternoon, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a conference call for ordinary citizens where he explained the Administrations priorities for the Child Nutrition Act. There were 1,000 people on the call, which is incredible and which demonstrates the momentum behind making real improvements to child nutrition programs.
What was the number one thing Vilsack recommended we do to improve the food in our countrys schools? SPEAK UP. While Vilsack noted the immense interest in this issue and clear public support for getting healthier food into schools, he also stressed that this issue isnt appearing in the national media and the only way to get the message through to Congress is grassroots advocacy. What does this mean? Our Secretary of Agriculture is calling on us to contact our Senators and Representatives as they move on this bill and to get media coverage as we do it. You can find a great jumping-off point right here at Slow Food USAs Time for Lunch Campaign.
Vilsack also stressed community involvement in small-scale agriculture through the USDAs program Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. Check it out for resources and grants to support local food in your community.
The people on the call today were 1,000 small farmers, food service providers, PTA members, teachers, doctors, and dieticians. In answering their questions, Vilsack outlined some key focus areas for the Administration: increasing the nutritional value of school food; strengthening farm-to-school programs; providing training and equipment in school kitchens; providing healthy food during non-school days; expanding enrollment in reduced and free lunch programs; and supporting the new 60 minutes of play a day initiative. In general, he voiced his support for the First Ladys new childhood obesity effort, Lets Move.
So you heard it, folks. We know how important Child Nutrition Reauthorization is - now, its time to make Congress and the media understand as well.
Posted on Wed, February 10, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
The USDA thinks we (consumers) don’t care about genetically engineered food. So, here’s your chance to tell them they’re wrong about that.
Background: Despite the fact that in 2006 genetically engineered alfafa was declared illegal, it appears that the USDA again intends to deregulate it without any limitations or protections for farmers, consumers or the environment. In addition, the USDA is claiming that there is no evidence that consumers care about GE contamination of organic.
Here’s where you come in: Let them know that you care about GE contamination of organic crops and food—you’ve got until MARCH 3rd.
For all the details about what to say and where to say it—handwritten letters are, as ever, the best—go to Organic Valley’s web site where they’ve got it all laid out clearly.
Posted on Tue, February 09, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
Calling the childhood obesity epidemic eminently solvable, today the First Lady rolled out her plan to eradicate this serious health threat within one generation. Her take-home message? Lets move!
Before unveiling the exciting project, Michelle Obama invited Will Allen, farmer and founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee, and Dr. Judith Palfrey, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics to talk about their work. The launch was also preceded this morning by the signing of an executive order creating a childhood obesity task force.
Approaching childhood obesity through four main avenues, the initiative (called Lets Move) will focus on: helping kids and parents make healthy choices, providing healthy food at school, encouraging physical activity, and making healthy food accessible and affordable. Combining personal choice and public access, the initiative seeks to tackle the issue through waves of efforts across the country starting right now. You can learn more at the Administrations brand-new website, LetsMove.gov.
Speaking of cross-country-school-food-healthy-children efforts, Slow Food USAs Time for Lunch campaign is doing just that and giving citizens an opportunity to speak up. In her speech, Michelle Obama called for Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act and get healthier food into our nations schools. As the First Lady said, an investment in child nutrition pays for itself many-fold in the long run. To learn more about Slow Foods efforts to give kids Americas kids a healthy future, check out the newly updated Time for Lunch Campaign web site.
Interested to hear more but didnt catch the webcast? You can read the full transcript of the First Ladys speech and, as always, check out the ObamaFoodorama blog for great updates on White House food initiatives.
Lets keep moving!
Posted on Mon, February 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Christine Binder
High school students in Escondido, California are sprinting to the lunch line.
Since the Escondido Union High School District began cooking meals from scratch in 2006, participation in breakfast has increased nearly 270%, and lunch participation increased 360%. The four high schools in the district serve around 5,000 meals a day, according to an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
For breakfast, students are offered items such as homemade muffins, oatmeal from scratch, and skillet scrambles made from real eggs, potatoes, and cheese. Lunch entrees include teriyaki chicken bowls with brown rice, broccoli, and carrots, and grilled chicken tacos with fresh salsa and beans. The food is made from scratch in the high school kitchens using fresh meat and produce, whole grains, and low-fat cheese. Students agree that this is a major improvement over the unhealthy and unappetizing pre-packaged meals served in previous years.
The best part about the food cooked from scratch? Students are performing better in the classroom, teachers say. According to Pamela Lambert, director of student nutrition services, The change means that students are eating much healthier, and plenty of studies show the positive effect of proper nutrition on academic ability.
Stories like this show that delicious and healthy slow food in schools is exactly what children need in order to succeed. Within the next several weeks, Congress will reauthorize the National School Lunch Program. This only happens every five years, so no time is better than now to contact your elected officials and make it known that kids want and need real food in schools. Check out Slow Food USAs Time for Lunch Campaign to find out more, and stay tuned here for Vilsack’s announcement of his priorities for the Child Nutrition Act [ n.b. this announcement was scheduled for today, but due to the massive dump of snow on D.C. over the weekend, it has been postponed].
Posted on Fri, February 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
1. Biopic about Temple Grandin, humane slaughterhouse designer and generally fascinating person, stars Claire Danes and airs this weekend on HBO.
2. NAIS no longer a problem! Niiiiiiiice. “Faced with stiff resistance for ranchers and farmers,” the USDA has dropped its National Animal Identification System proposed program; this comes as good news to small-mid scale producers and their supporters, who felt it would have placed on undue burden on them.
3. Weird unpronouncable things allowed in your meat: via Bob Perry at University of Kentucky, here is the latest list of what weird stuff is allowable in commodity meat & poultry from the USDA. As he says: “and people wonder why I only buy from local farmers…...”
[photo courtesy of Paul Stevenson, flickr creative commons]
Posted on Thu, February 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Ben Watson, Chairman, Slow Food USA Biodiversity Committee
Terrence Maloney (1940-2010)
A few days ago I received the sad news of the death of Terry Maloney, 70, of Colrain, Massachusetts. Terry died suddenly at home on January 29, ironically enough as the result of an accident that occurred while he was filtering a batch of his West County Cider.
Terry and his wife Judith began making cider more than 25 years ago, after they moved from California to western Massachusetts. In Franklin County, the area where they settled, there werent any of the wineries that they had worked on out west, but there was a long local tradition of apple growing and cidermaking, and the Maloneys set out to produce high-quality hard ciders, in an effort to both reflect and revive a New England cider-drinking culture. Along with New Hampshires Stephen Wood and other early producers, the Maloneys today are recognized as among the first pioneers in what has truly become an American cider renaissance. New producers making increasingly brilliant and sophisticated ciders have sprung up in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region, the Piedmont South, and other areas of the country. Many of them owe thanks to Terry Maloney for inspiring them through his example and by setting a high standard of excellence for every American cider producer.
The community of cidermakers and cider-lovers is very close-knit (though we are all fiercely independent and opinionated too!), and the news of Terrys death has shocked and saddened all of us. He will long be remembered by everyone who knew him as a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful man and as someone who was always ready to share his own knowledge with others and to learn from their experiences. Part of his legacy will be Franklin County Cider Days, which started out as a modest regional event for local home brewers and amateur cidermakers; in 2009 the festival celebrated its 15th anniversary, and although it still is rooted in the hill towns and orchards of western Massachusetts, it has become one of the worlds premier cider events. No doubt Cider Days 2010, always held on the first weekend in November, will be dedicated to the life and work of this great and good man. But it wont be the same without him.
Posted on Thu, February 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
The debate around school lunch and child nutrition is gathering major momentum. The 2 big reasons why:
Posted on Wed, February 03, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Poop and salad: two great tastes that go great together? Bleccccch. Consumer Reports tested bagged leafy greens and found “bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contaminationin some cases, at rather high levels.”
Scale-appropriate legislation: With all of these discoveries of food contamination, there is a need for some regulation—but as the food movement has been squawking about for several months now, it is IMPERATIVE that small and mid sized operations are not thrown in together with the big guys. A new Act on the table might help. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition explains: “Fortunately, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced the Growing Safe Food Act (S. 2758) to create a national food safety training and technical assistance program. It would deliver training and technical assistance appropriate to small and mid scale farms to reduce the incidence of food borne illness.” Click here to find out how you can express your support, by urging your Senator to co-sponsor the Growing Safe Food Act (S 2758).