What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, April 30, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Yonatan Landau
Think of the last time you saw something that pissed you off enough to do something amazing about it. Maybe it was a long grocery line or a bumper sticker for the Tea Party, or maybe it takes a humanitarian crisis like Haiti to really get your adrenaline going.
For me, it was orange chicken.
A year ago, I found out that UC Berkeley’s first national fast food chain, a Panda Express, was slated to open its doors adjacent to the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Like Slow Food in reaction to a McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome, we rose to the occasion.
We dredged up some surprising details (all Panda’s menu items except steamed rice are over 50% fat; even their steamed veggies are cooked in meat) and drew hundreds of students to protest. We also gave the administration something they could say yes to: we raised over $100,000 for a student-run café and sustainability hub. The administration eventually rejected the chain, and the Berkeley Student Food Collective was born.
Now, this summer, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed) will train student leaders on campuses around Northern California to create local, organic, community-run cafes on their campuses. Imagine students hosting fermentation workshops and panels of local food movement leaders in the same space that they and their friends buy an affordable, organic salad and fair trade coffee for lunch (check out the lovely Sprouts Cafe in Vancouver or the raucous Maryland Food Collective).
A best-practices business plan for a financially sustainable platform for campus food movement organizing - a community-run cafe.
A support network of food system stakeholders and activists dedicated to a just and sustainable food system. CoFed is has formed alliances with these organizations: Slow Food on Campus, Slow Money, Real Food Challenge, FeelGood, Food Coop 500, California Students for Sustainability Coalition, The Food Alliance, United Farm Workers, Veritable Vegetable, The California Center for Cooperative Development, Hazon, Thanksgiving Coffee.
An intensive, peer-based training: June 15-20th, CoFed will host an intensive boot camp in Northern California, bringing together students from all around the West Coast. Participants will be mentored by local farmers and chefs, create a plan for their campus food co-op, and build their project teams.
Posted on Wed, April 28, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama, a group of former military generals, and 550,000 others agree that Americas schools need help serving healthier school lunches. Yet the Child Nutrition Bill on Congress docket this year is stalled in the Senate and completely absent in the House.
Polls show that voters are strongly in favor of healthier school food. Congress just needs to get the message.
The legislators who need the most encouragement are those who sit on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. They hold the keys to a strong Child Nutrition Bill with full funding for healthier food. If your Congressperson sits on one of these committees, please take three minutes to call up their office and voice your support. Weve made it easy for you by writing instructions and a sample message, which you can download here (for Ed & Labor), or here (for Ways & Means).
If your Congressperson doesnt sit on either Committee, you can still help out. Right now, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking Speaker Pelosi to take some leadership on this issue. 167 Representatives have signed the letter already. If your Representative hasnt, please urge him or her to do sign it before Friday, April 30.
And as always, you can ask your friends to email their legislators via the form on our Time for Lunch Campaign web site.
Posted on Mon, April 26, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Emily Vaughn
The National Academy of Science recently released “the first comprehensive assessment of how GE [genetically engineered] crops are affecting all U.S. farmers. That’s exciting news—if you follow the controversy surrounding GE food crops, you know that the lack of scientific consensus on either side is a source of constant debate.
One reason it’s so hard to sort out the science behind GE crops is that major chemical companies and food industry giants often sit on research committees. Take the study that the National Academy just released. Out of the study’s three authoring bodies, one included a representative from Monsanto, another had a representative from Cargill.
I’m not saying that there’s no way for public and private interests to work together to produce good science. For example, the much-lauded IAASTD report, for which the World Bank, the FAO and the UNDP brought together 400 leading natural and social scientists, representatives from government (including the U.S.), private sector and non-governmental organizations to ask how we would feed the world in 2050. The scientists concluded that genetically modified crops and chemical agriculture had failed to show much promise in feeding the world. (Although it’s worth noting that before the report was released, Monsanto and Syngenta withdrew from the project.)
Instead I’m calling for more transparency. Pointing out potential conflicts of interest will allow scientists, consumers, environmentalists, and farmers to make more informed decisions. And where transparency isn’t offered, it’s up to everyday people to create it, and spread the word.
Where do you turn for GE news?
Posted on Mon, April 26, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
Since September 2009, Slow Food members and supporters have sent over 111,000 letters, emails, and petition signatures to Congress in support of healthier school food. At Summit Academy Youngstown Community School in Youngstown, Ohio, students wrote letters and mailed them to Senator Sherrod Brown. Recently, one of Sen. Browns representatives responded with a visit to the school. Barbara Pagani, a teacher at Summit Academy, told us the story of his visit:
Max Blachman, assistant to Senator Sherrod Brown, visited Summit Academy Youngstown Community School on Monday, March 29, 2010. When he called to set up the meeting, he said he had received our very sweet series of notes and was calling to introduce himself. He asked if he could visit and sit down to meet the students behind the letters. He said he would like to close the loop on our outreach to the Senator. When he arrived at our building, the students gave him a warm welcome and Mr. Blachman was warm right back!
Mr. Blachman gave a great talk about democracy and how we had just become involved in our countrys direction by contacting a Senator. He did a great job of explaining the way the government works and what it can do for the students. He took a look at the food we were having for breakfast and politely declined. Mr. Blachman answered about 50 questions from the students. He used words that even the youngest student could understand. He took the time to walk outside and look at our school garden. Mr. Blachman was so warm and friendly that our students came away with the idea that representatives from our government are cool. It was an assembly that our students will never forget.
Contacting Congress about school lunches is a great way for kids (and adults) to make their voices heard on an issue where their health and their futures are at stake. Congress is set to pass a Child Nutrition Bill this year, which means we have a short window of opportunity to encourage legislators to invest in healthier food, strengthen nutrition standards, and support Farm to School programs.
Posted on Fri, April 23, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
The Child Nutrition Bill thats currently moving through the U.S. Senate would add six cents to the amount that schools receive from the USDA for each school lunch. If youre wondering if these few extra pennies would make any difference, heres a helpful PDF you can download. The school food service company Revolution Foods put it together in order to illustrate the cost of healthy school food.
For example, an increase of ten cents can provide:
*1/4 cup of broccoli
*1/4 cup of freshly cut carrots
*1/4 cup of freshly cut celery
Not too much. Especially not in the midst of what Jamie Oliver is calling Americas darkest moment in health, i.e. the child obesity epidemic.
If you think we can do better than six cents, write a letter to your legislators urging them to fully fund school lunch when Congress passes the Child Nutrition Bill this year.
Posted on Thu, April 22, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I drove from the Columbus OH airport towards Athens, I passed a billboard that read “Every day is Earth Day for a farmer.” A dairy barn on my left, fields on my right. I was headed into the home of the pawpaw, a locavore hub, where community gardening is thriving, and food producers are local celebrities.
I was there to be part of Earth Month festivities at Ohio University, having been invited by their sustainability coordinator, Sonia Marcus. I realized that a few years ago, food would not have been part of the conversation on Earth Day, and it’s a marker of how far we’ve all come that we recognize that food—the production and transportation of which have a massive impact on our ecosystem—is an essential part of any sustainability conversation. Ohio University was amongst the first to have a position called “sustainability coordinator” and they are doing a great job of all kinds of things, including robust programming and education, as well as composting all the food waste on campus.
It was a super fun day during which I visited an Environmental Journalism class, participated in a round table lunch discussion, chatted with a News Writing class, and gave a talk focused on Building Online Communities in the food movement (subtitle: “how does twitter help grow food?”). We talked slow food, GMOs, potlucks, Jamie Oliver, blogging….and on and on. One student asked me what my professors taught me about blogging and I had to explain that when I was in college there was no such thing as a blog. Nothing like undergrads to make you feel old!
I really enjoyed talking with the students, and having the opportunity to reflect upon my writing, and how it ended up being the foundation for allowing me to “become”/call myself a writer. In thinking about these things, and in being asked to answer smart questions, I came up with answers that surprised me sometimes.
Professor Hans Meyer covered my talk here. My main takeaway: every time I see a photo of myself giving a talk, that is what I am doing with my hands. Also, n.b. that his students were assigned to live tweet my talk, and I really enjoyed reading their commentary once the talk was done. You can read the comments here. If the link doesn’t work, do a search on twitter for #oj314.
I talked about the ability of social media to bring people together into online communities, all in the service of eventually getting people to have face to face interactions. In the end I addressed the conundrum of slow food and the fast pace of social media—aren’t they a contradiction? In many ways, yes. And I do think that the lightning speed of things like twitter run counter to some tenets of the slow food movement. However, it is also a tool that be used to bring larger numbers and further connectivity to the people in the food movement, and therefore larger strength to the movement itself. For me, it’s about balance, knowing when to step away from the keyboard, and put the iphone down and sit down at the table, face to face with my community.
Posted on Fri, April 16, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Christine Binder
Have you been watching Jamie Olivers Food Revolution? For the past four Fridays, several million viewers, myself included, have been tuning in to watch the passionate Brit in a pea suit work to improve school lunches and teach people to cook in Huntington, West Virginia.
(The last two episodes of the 6-episode series will be airing on ABC on April 16th and 23rd at 10pm EST. If youve missed any of the previous episodes, you can watch them online here.)
While I cant wait to see what Jamie accomplishes in Huntington, Im actually more fascinated by the strong responses hes evoking nation-wide. Jamie certainly has both supporters and skeptics. At the moment, over 272,000 people have signed his petition in support of saving cooking skills and improving school food, but opinions seem to vary widely in the blogosphere. (Here are two interesting takes from nutrition professor Marion Nestle and school lunch expert Kate Adamick.)
For those making bets on how the Food Revolution will unfold, here are two studies of Jamies work that may help you make a guess. The first comes from the Royal Economic Society and looks at middle schools in the London borough of Greenwich, where Oliver implemented a healthy school lunch program in 2004. According to researchers, excused absences dropped 15%, scores on standardized tests increased by several percentage points (a significant difference), and participation in the lunch program also increased.
The other study from researchers at West Virginia University evaluates the short-term effects of Olivers program in Huntington using surveys from 4th and 5th grade students, teachers, cooks, and the food service director. In this case, students preferred the standard school food to Jamies entrees, and participation in the lunch program decreased. Children were, however, more likely to try new foods as a result of Jamies program.
In my opinion, the best things about Jamies show are that it brings awareness to the important issues of school lunch and childhood obesity and that it has helped to ignite a serious conversation that America desperately needs to have.
This blog post is an open thread: please use the comments below to share your thoughts. What do you think about Jamie Olivers Food Revolution?
Posted on Thu, April 15, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debra Eschmeyer
When President Obama established a “Presidential task force on childhood obesity” in February, Grist’s Tom Laskawy wondered whether our nation’s first federal food policy council had quietly sprung into being. In a food policy council, the key stakeholders of a region’s food system come together to assess the current food situation and envision ways it might be improved. Food policy councils are a growing phenomenon at the state and municipal level, but such a thing had never existed before at the national level. Does it now?
Well, last week I had the honor of attending the new task force’s White House Childhood Obesity Summit, and it certainly had the flavors of a food policy council: an array of food-policy players across agencies gathered to discuss a key symptom of a food system gone off the rails: childhood obesity.
The task force was charged with developing and submitting to the President in 90 days an interagency plan that “details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan.” As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, the task force is engaging both public and private sectors with the primary goal of helping children become more active and eat healthier within a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.
Feeding our children better may look at first glance like a softball issue for the first lady; but the Ms. Obama is actually in the opening stages of what looks like a long and complicated fight. but as Time put it:
“If this sounds like a political fight, well, it is. Michelle Obama may be tilling nonpartisan ground with her vegetable garden and child-obesity program, but food has long been political. From soda taxes to corn subsidies, food is about health care costs, environmentalism, education, agriculture and class.”
[to read the rest of this post, go to Grist, by clicking here.
Debra Eschmeyer is an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food & Society Fellow and the communications and outreach director of the National Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. While she continues her passion for organic farming on her fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, she currently plows with her pencil from Washington, DC. ]
Posted on Wed, April 14, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Lila Wilmerding
On March 17, the first vertical school garden in San Francisco was unveiled at Sanchez Elementary School in the Mission District. This vertical garden joins Sanchezs existing traditional garden, which teachers have been integrating into their classes for the past couple of years.
The garden, originally cared for by a retired teacher, found support from Slow Food San Francisco and was visited by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini in 2007. The program has developed over time, and this year Sanchez Elementary was able to hire a garden manager who comes in biweekly to help the students plant, maintain, and harvest. The school also recently finished adding a kitchen for students to do tastings.
According to Carmen Tedesco of Slow Food San Francisco, the initiatives at Sanchez would not be possible without the enthusiasm of the schools principal, Dr. Raymond Isola, and the rest of the administration. All are very excited to have the new vertical garden in place and hope that it will be the first of many in the area.
The soil-less vertical garden, which was installed by Inka Biospheric Systems and can be mounted on a chain-link fence, is an option for campuses where space is an issue. As well, solar panels and a wind turbine will power the circulation of nutrient-enhanced water, adding another level of sustainability to this project. Students at Sanchez Elementary will monitor the gardens energy use, water nutrient levels, and produce outputs over the course of the spring and compile the results in May. The way that the Sanchez Elementary School administration has embraced the garden project makes the school a model on which Slow Food San Francisco can base future Slow Food in Schools projects.
3 Comments | Categories:
Posted on Tue, April 13, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
About 2 months ago the NY Times ran a piece on Crop Mobs in the Chapel Hill, NC area, describing it as a “monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon.” The food movement got giddy with excitement. Within a week or so, a CropMobNYC group popped up on Facebook and I signed on up.
This past Sunday 4 Crop Mobs were scheduled for four different urban farms around town. I went to Bed-Stuy Farm, where 20 of us met with the generous and inspiring Rev. Robert Jackson and Rev. DeVanie Jackson. We tilled, and clipped, composted and shoveled, hammered and sawed. Also we broke for snacks and ate DeVanie’s homemade fig jam from last season’s figs.
Participant and food filmmaker Liza De Guia made a short video (featuring SFUSA staffer Gordon Jenkins—checkitout)—click here to view.
We brought our own work gloves, our own water bottles, and our own lunch. I left the house in a hurry, throwing together this curried chicken salad quickly, with what I had on hand—kind of like the Crop Mob itself.
Curried Chicken Salad
Leftover roast chicken, cut into chunks
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 tbsp raisins, dark or golden
1 cup farm-fresh yogurt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 shake cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together all ingredients except the chicken, celery and raisins
Then add the rest and stir well
[this piece first appeared on my blog, Eat Here 2]