What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, May 07, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Gida Snyder, head of the SFOC chapter at Kapiolani Community College
Mana `Ai means “power food” in Hawaiian and is both the business name and the philosophy of a family run company on the island of Oahu specializing in hand-pounded taro or pa`i`ai, (essentially poi before water is added to thin it out.)
Daniel Anthony, Mana `Ai’s founder, believes the nourishment of pa`i`ai is two-fold; the nutritional health benefit of eating pa`i`ai and the empowerment fostered by keeping a community in touch with the ancient food-making traditions of ku`i kalo (pounding taro.) Recently the Slow Food on Campus chapter at Kapiolani Community College had the hands on opportunity to experience the process of making pa`i`ai.
Under Daniel’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable direction, we learned that each step in the taro pounding process is of equal importance. Even before cooking the taro we were shown how to properly pick the leaves from the ti plant, prepare our equipment and stay as clean as possible to avoid transferring bacteria to the pa`i`ai. We then helped cook the taro by steaming it in a pressure cooker lined with ti and banana leaves. We learned the techniques for cleaning the taro, preparing it to be pounded using mortars made of lava rock on smooth carved koa wood boards.
As day became evening, the community center began to fill up with local families there to make their own pa`i`ai and poi for the week. The atmosphere was warm and lively with kids running around while the adults talked story and pounded. Our group shared the pounding of 15lbs of taro, learning quickly that it is NOT as easy as it appears. It takes a strong arm, a steady rhythm and an understanding of the soon sticky mass of pounded taro to make it a uniform and smooth texture. The experience left many of us with a desire to learn more about the many uses of pa`i`ai and to become more proficient at pounding it. We were invited back to the weekly gathering and will be attending a ku`i kalo as a chapter again soon.
Posted on Thu, May 06, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
The next Farm Bill isn’t supposed to come until 2012, but Congress started work on it last month, two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. Not surprisingly, no one’s asking everyday people or everyday farmers what they want from the bill.
Yet we’re the ones who stand to lose if Congress passes another Farm Bill that prioritizes corporate profit over healthy farms and healthy people. It’s time we got up to speed, and started speaking up.
Here’s where you can go to catch up:
Farm Policy, a daily newsletter about food and farm policy. Sign up for the email service and you’ll receive everything you need to know about what’s going on in D.C. It’s a ton of information, but worth skimming each morning.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog. Slow Food USA is a member of the coalition, and our staff relies on their blog for policy news.
The Farm Bill and Beyond, an outstanding and very comprehensive report about how the 2008 Farm Bill came to be. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading if you want some insight on how the next fight will play out.
Slow Food USA’s staff is weighing strategies for the next Farm Bill. It’s imperative that we start by listening to farmers and coming to some mutual goals – otherwise, we risk dividing ourselves when ultimately we’re all working towards a common vision.
What are the farmers in your area saying? Post your comments below.
Posted on Wed, May 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Imagine AmeriCorps service members building and tending school gardens and developing Farm to School programs for public schools around the country.
That’s the vision for FoodCorps, a new project in a year-long planning phase; I’m proud to say Slow Food USA is a part of it!
Our next open conference call to discuss the planning process is tomorrow. Catch up on the latest news about the program’s development and find out how you can get involved. The topic of this week’s call is an overview of the structure of the FoodCorps planning process and information on ways you can become involved.
This Thursday May 6, 5pm Eastern
Call (605) 475-4333
Enter code 571334#
For More Information:
Also, follow us on twitter: @foodcorps
Posted on Mon, May 03, 2010 by Intern
by intern Lila Wilmerding
Among other organizations, Maple Avenue School in Newark, New Jersey has partnered with Slow Food Northern New Jersey to integrate growing vegetables, healthy eating, and fitness into the everyday curriculum. Since the beginning of this past school year, the chapter has worked with the school to bring grow boxes to classrooms and organize lectures and visits from farmers.
This “Growing Minds” project—which includes sprouting mung beans and keeping diaries of the classroom grow boxes—is fueled in large part by enthusiastic teachers like Natasha Parilla, who has worked hard to bring food and gardening into the school’s K-8 classrooms. Before the program started, the teachers attended a half-day training session on using the grow boxes as a classroom tool and then worked together to integrate what they had learned into the state-mandated curricula. According to Margaret Noon, leader of the Slow Food Northern New Jersey chapter, this connection to people who know and understand the school system has been fundamental to the success of the program.
Recently, Newark Beth Israel’s Kid Fit Program, Scholastic Books, and Slow Food Northern New Jersey collaborated with Maple Avenue School to organize an event called Eat, Grow, & Go. During the course of a day, over 500 students at Maple Avenue were taught to grow potatoes in buckets by a nearby organic farmer, learned about egg production from a local kilt-wearing farmer while passing live chickens around the classroom, and sampled local organic carrots, salad turnips, and potatoes.
It’s hard to believe that such a well-developed project has come together in just one school year. But Slow Food Northern New Jersey is not finished yet—Maple Avenue’s success has caught the attention of the Newark Superintendent of Schools, hopefully paving the way for similar programs at other schools in the area.