What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, March 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
What can one Slow Food chapter, one local school, a Whole Foods Market, and a Renegade Lunch Lady get done together? Just ask Slow Food Urban San Diego, who just spent two jam-packed days advocating for healthier school lunches with Chef Ann Cooper.
The two-day event was catalyzed by Whole Foods Markets School Lunch Makeover video contest. With the help of a dedicated parent, students from the Albert Einstein Academies charter school made their case for a school lunch overhaul. Their video Where Did the Good Food Go? came in first place! The prize? A visit from the Renegade Lunch Lady herself, Chef Ann Cooper.
Chef Ann has been challenging and transforming the school lunch system across the country. A chef for over 30 years, she now focuses on strengthening links among food, farms, family, and child wellness. As part of this, Chef Ann is calling for a school lunch revolution in which schools shift from packaged and processed food toward healthy, nutritious meals. Her online resources, appearances, and campaign to increase school lunch funding by one dollar per meal are inspiring and empowering local schools and activists from coast to coast. This time, she made a two-day stop in San Diego.
Slow Food Urban San Diego, having partnered with Albert Einstein Academies, helped kick off the events with a press conference featuring Chef Ann and the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. The partnership among Chef Ann, Whole Foods, Slow Food Urban San Diego, Albert Einstein Academies, and the local restaurant Alchemy drew so much attention, in fact, that the Mayor issued a proclamation declaring February 18, 2010 Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Day. Later that day, Chef Ann addressed over 150 people at the Natural History Museum of San Diego. A Slow Food member gave lead-in presentation about the Time for Lunch campaign, complete with live tutorial on sending e-letters to congress.
Posted on Sat, March 06, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
I just spent an invigorating 2 days in Washington DC at the Drake Forum, a gathering intended to “identify innovative policies and projects at the federal, state, and local levels to support new and beginning farmers.” Right now the average age of the American farmer is 57, a statistic we bandy about without really knowing how to correct it. I mean the answer is simple: get more young people on the land! Make farming a cool, viable career again! But easier said than done.
Jane Black covered it anecdotally in the Washington Post today, capturing just one of many of the fascinating stories shared with the 200+ group. We heard stories of frustration—navigating the confusing maze of USDA programs available; stories of renegades succeeding despite the obstacles—Hmong farmer Susane Moua in St. Paul MN, turning backyards into a CSA program.
The strength of this gathering lay in a few key places:
1. The focus on discussing real, possible solutions, especially in the policy arena
2. The presence of US Agencies, especially the USDA (including Secretary Tom Vilsack delivering the opining keynote)
3. The focus on bringing together big ag and sustainable ag (though the deck was a bit stacked towards the sustainable ag folks)
The conference was organized by Professor Neil Hamilton, Slow Food chapter leader in Iowas as well as the head of the Drake Agricultural Law Center. Attendees seemed extremely energized following the final session today—one in which “policy reporters” from each panel summarized the potential policy solutions that arose on their panel as well as posing the essential remaining questions.
Posted on Fri, March 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Jackie Fortin
We can create the best nutrition education and physical education programs in the world, but if dinner is something off of the shelf of a local gas station or convenience store, because there’s no grocery store nearby, all our best efforts are going to go to waste, the First Lady said during a speech at Philadelphias Fairhill School on Feb. 19 to launch the Obama Administrations new Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).
Currently, the USDA estimates that 23.5 million Americans, including 6.5 million children live in food deserts, or economically distressed areas that are typically served by fast food restaurants and convenience stores offering little or no fresh produce.
Food deserts, which can now be identified using USDAs new Food Environment Atlas, are one of the many results of the nations broken food system preventing individuals from making better choices and denying them the ability to vote with their forks. When an area lacks healthy, affordable food options, its inhabitants are prone to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
In order to achieve the Obama Administrations goal of eliminating food deserts nationwide in the next seven years, the HFFI will fund a movement of bringing grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities across America. The effort will also include providing grocery stores on wheels for less densely populated areas, said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan during her Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food presentation at The New School Feb. 25.
The $400 million initiative, which will use a mix of federal tax credits, below-market rate loans, loan guarantees, and grants aimed to attract private sector capital, is being made possible through a partnership between the departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
Modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), the HFFI will ideally not only provide access to healthy food, but will also invest in communities by removing financing obstacles and operating barriers, as well as by creating living wage jobs and qualified work forces.
Posted on Thu, March 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Christine Binder
Earlier this week, a team of Chicago high school students traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak up for better school food, but they did not come empty-handed. The students, from the Tilden Career Community Academy, brought along their award-winning recipes. Back in October, the team of six won the Healthy Schools Campaign’s 2009 “Cooking Up Change” competition. Their chicken-vegetable jambalaya, jalapeno cornbread, and cucumber salad were served to Congress in the Longworth House of Representatives cafeteria and also at a Capitol Hill briefing on the future of school food.
The students specifically designed the menu to exceed current nutrition standards for school lunches and fall under a budget of one dollar per serving, which is the same amount that school districts around the country have to spend on ingredients for each school lunch. Meeting budgetary and nutritional requirements was the most difficult part of the competition, according to the Tilden students.
Cooking up Change gives students a forum to present their creative ideas about what healthy school food can be,” said Rochelle Davis, the founding executive director of Healthy Schools Campaign. “And while the contest is fun, it carries an important message: schools need more money for better food.”
Posted on Tue, March 02, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Daniela Salazar Monárrez, 8th grader at Hillcrest Academy and Slow Food Club founder
Yesterday the Slow Food clubs of Van Avery Prep and Hillcrest Academy got together with the Slow Food USA president Joshua Viertel. Josh kindly came to Temecula to meet our two Slow Food clubs, which are the first middle school clubs in the country. We had prepared our questions and were armed with freshly picked lettuce, organic salad dressing, and lemonade made from school grown lemons. With tasty food and our questions ready to go, both schools felt comfortable for the arrival of our Slow Food celebrity.
Josh was tall. He was warm and friendly, greeting with a smile and handshake. All the members of both clubs got to shake his hand and listen to some information about the Slow Food Organization. The younger members got to ask a few questions, then the twelve chosen representatives went to the round table (which was really squared). The smaller group settled down and got ready to ask questions.
After an introduction by yours truly, the questions began. They ranged from personal specific things like Do you have a garden? to bigger more general things like What would you change about food in the world, and why? but each student got a chance to ask a question.
We learned about how he believes that the fact that some people don’t buy good food doesn’t mean they have bad morals. ... It says something bad about our society, that people don’t have enough money to buy good food for themselves, he told us. We discovered that even Josh has bought fast food, when he was stuck at an airport, hungry, and had only fast food available. No one is perfect, he said the main thing is how you act most of the time. Josh explained his interest in slow food and how he believed in the concept before he heard about the organization.
Posted on Mon, March 01, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Christine Binder
On February 9th, Michelle Obama unveiled Lets Move, an initiative with the ambitious goal of solving the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. As part of the initiative, the First Lady and her team also launched an interactive Food Environment Atlas. It is an important source of food environment statistics and a great way to visualize the ability of different communities to access healthy food, but its also a lot of fun to play with and explore.
You can look at 90 different characteristics of the food environment by state, region, or county. Who pays the most for milk? In which states do people eat the most fruits and veggies, or drink the most soda? Where are the greatest numbers of grocery stores or farmers markets located? How much money do Americans spend on fast food every year? Where are obesity levels the highest?
As you look at all of the different maps, youll probably notice that there are a lot of places in this country where healthy foods are not readily available and even more places where unhealthy foods are. One of the four pillars of Lets Move is Accessible and Affordable Healthy Food. This is important because 23.5 million Americans, 6.5 million of which are children, live in what are called food deserts.
A food desert is a neighborhood with little or no access to fresh, healthy foods, due to a lack of grocery stores or farmers markets, often in combination with high food prices. Most food deserts are located in urban or rural areas. Even though they lack grocery stores, food deserts often contain plenty of fast food restaurants and convenience stores where cheap and unhealthy processed foods are sold. Its not hard to see that eating healthfully in a food desert is extremely challenging.