What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, November 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA’s position on the current food safety legislation recently passed by the Senate (again) and headed for a House vote.
UPDATE: After hanging briefly in legal limbo because of tax provisions in the bill, the Food Safety and Modernization Act (S 510) was passed by the Senate late last night. You can read about it in The Washington Post by clicking here. It is expected to be voted on byt the House this week. For a blow by blow of what is covered by the bill, you can read Bill Marler’s recap by clicking here.
Many of you in the network have been asking about Slow Food USA"s position on S 510, the Food Safety and Modernization bill that is moving—slowwwwwly—through the Senate. In light of recent large-scale food recalls—such as this summer’s recall of half a billion eggs—such corporate food safety legislation is necessary. However, it is very important that while this regulation needs to crack down on large-scale industrial/corporate bad actors, it must not hurt small scale producers and processors.
That’s why we—with our allies including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition—support the Manager’s Amendment (which as of last night will include the Tester amendment, which makes it more likely to be part of the final bill). To read more about these two amendments and how they can help protect small farms and processors from onerous regulations, click here.
After vigorous debate yesterday, the bill is now on hold until after Thanksgiving. Marion Nestle offers her thoughts/recap here.
Now is a great time to contact your Senator to wish them a safe and delicious Thanksgiving AND pass food safety legislation that includes the Manager’s Amendment. You can add: “We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to more local and regional food sourcing. Size and practice appropriate food safety regulation for small and mid-sized farms and processors is vital to economic recovery, public health, and nutritional wellbeing.”
Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.
Posted on Fri, November 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Michael Blanding’s book aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke.
A version of this piece first appeared on Civil Eats
My dirty truth is that I have a collection of Coke bottles from around the world: one from Mexico, one with Arabic script, one covered in unrecognizable lettering and filled with Yugoslavian beach glass (a present from a friend who traveled there with her family in 1990 and brought it back as a present for me). And on and on. I was a teenager when I gathered them, and totally oblivious to the implications behind this international menagerie of emptied glass. This drink was everywhere, tailored slightly through variations in local water and variations in bottle size, but ultimately the same. I loved that I could find it anywhere: the great unifier.
Michael Blanding’s book, The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke. He tells Coke’s story from the beginning, starting with the beverage’s origins in 1886 as a snake oil tonic and extending all the way up to its present incarnation as a multinational beverage corporation.
It’s a measure of my tremendous cynicism about corporations that more of this book didn’t shock the pants off of me. The story of the company’s early days, carving out an identity and working to convince the public that this refreshing leisure drink was a necessity, was captivatingly told and a great example of how iconic brands are built. In Coke’s case it was built aggressively with a focus on growth and led by unprecedentedly well-funded advertising campaigns.
Market growth is It for Coke, and Blanding chronicles how the company’s desire for growth eventually led them to bottle tap water, add some secret minerals and corner a whole new market. After all, there is a limit to how much soda one person can drink, right? Actually, that limit might be higher than you expect. One of the more troubling accounts in the book is of a town in Mexico called San Juan de Chamula, where newborns are fed Coke in their bottles, and locals worship their Saints by downing ritual glasses of Coca-Cola and leaving cola offerings at church altars. As one local guide explains it “Here Coca-Cola is cash, poison, magic, passion, pleasure, torture, love and medicine.” But not everyone has welcomed Coke’s presence.
Posted on Wed, November 17, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
UPDATE: This bill will be voted on Wednesday Dec. 1. Slow Food USA joins hundreds of organizations around the country in writing a letter to Reps. Miller and Kline strongly urging them to pass the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act immediately.
UPDATE: This bill will be voted on Wednesday Dec. 1.
After one year of hard work on the part of activists, school nutrition directors, parents and politicians to pass improved school lunch legislation, everything seemed hinged to collapse this Fall after the Senate passed a version of the bill that would take money from future food stamp funding.
This move succeeded in splitting the school lunch advocacy community. Some felt that a badly-funded bill was better than no bill at all; others felt that it was crazy to take money from hungry children in order to…. feed hungry children. At that time we asked you to call your House Reps to say “No! Don’t pass a bad bill, we’d rather have no bill at all.”
Now, as Congress people return post-election for what is called their “lame duck session,” urgency mounts and tactics shift. On November 11th Slow Food USA joined hundreds of organizations around the country in writing a letter to Reps. Miller and Kline strongly urging them to pass the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act immediately, express concerns about SNAP funding, and acknowledging the rock-and-a-hard place we’re all in.
In light of how difficult it will be to pass such a significant piece of legislation in the more fiscally-conservative congress, we felt it important to join many of our allies to urge the House to pass the significantly improved legislation despite the current cuts to SNAP. We will fight to return those funds, but we must pass CNR now.
As Rep George Miller said yesterday : “It’s this opportunity or we lose it.”
We have decided that the most important thing right now is to get an improved school lunch bill passed as soon as possible. We feel that our children have waited long enough and that the several improvements in this bill—including more money per child per meal and improved guidelines for food sold outside the lunch line—represent something worth fighting for.
Call Congress to let to let them know that we want the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307) passed now, not later. Dial 1-877-698-8228 and enter your zip code to be connected to your Representative.
Posted on Thu, November 11, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Four out of five uniquely North American apple varieties are extinct—with more to follow if we’re not careful.
by Holly Huitt
Graniwinkle Apple. Photo by Ben Watson
It’s hard to imagine that a fruit as ubiquitous as an apple could qualify for an endangered foods list. After all, you could walk into any grocery store right now and be greeted by rows and rows of brightly polished red and green specimens.
Look a little closer, and you’ll see that these apples probably belong to one of the eleven apple varieties that make up over 90 percent of apples grown and eaten in the U.S., with Red Delicious alone constituting a hefty 41 percent. Now consider that a century ago, more than 15,000 varieties unique to North America populated our landscape with beautifully striped and spotted skins and names like the Dula Beauty, the Gloria Mundi, and the Newton Pippin.
Only one fifth of those varieties survived, with 81 percent of those precious few considered “endangered” on the marketplace. A new report from Slow Food USA, Noble Fruits—A Guide to Conserving Heirloom Apples, draws attention to the rapidly declining number of apple varieties—and proposes some solutions along the way.
The instructive guide highlights many little-known heirloom varieties, and provides tips and advice for people interested in planting and harvesting them. The guide also raises awareness about the accessibility of heirloom apples—many varieties are available at the over 5,000 farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs throughout the U.S., often at prices that are similar to, if not below the prices of those cookie-cutter supermarket varieties.
“Apples are the canary in the coalmine. The decline of traditional, American varieties exposes the impact of our industrialized food system. We are losing our delicious, edible history. Local and unique foods are becoming extinct as food designed for travel and shelf life dominate the market,” says Ed Yowell of Slow Food NYC.
Luckily, groups around the country are working to keep America’s apple heritage alive. To read more about their projects, the stories behind the apples, and how to plant your own, download Noble Fruits—A Guide to Conserving Heirloom Apples here.
Posted on Tue, November 02, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Baker Erin Justus, recipient of the Summer Kitchen Change Makers Grant, checks in after Terra Madre.
by: Holly Huitt
Erin Justus is a farmer who spends most of her time in a kitchen. She’s not sautéing carrots for garnish or thinly slicing beets to pair with a fresh chevre—she’s baking bread, and not just any kind. Justus’ bread, made from local, seasonal ingredients, is inspired by her early years working on a farm. Her connectivity with the agricultural community has lead Justus to serve as president of Slow Food Santa Cruz, where she recently earned the Summer Kitchens Change Makers grant. The grant, generously awarded by Paul Arenstam and Charlene Reis of Summer Kitchens, allowed Justus to attend the 2010 Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy.
We caught Justus between batches of bread to find out a little bit more about Companion Bakers and just how inspiring Terra Madre can be.
SF: When did you first know that you wanted to be a baker?
EJ: Baking sort of fell into my life! I was a young farmer gaining experience and baking was something that felt natural. I started baking first for CSA programs and then got into local farmers markets. For me becoming a baker is a really sweet way of life. Working with the seasons, the early mornings and the interaction with customers—that’s why I am a baker.
SF: How has being a member and the leader of your Slow Food Chapter affected your baking practices and food philosophies?
EJ: I am honored to serve on the board for Santa Cruz Slow Food. I have learned
so much from the amazing individuals that I work with and have gained great skills in communicating and working as a team. It has affected my baking practices by knowing that there is more than being in the kitchen. There is advocating and supporting our community in good food practices and making good food experiences available to others in our community.
SF: What have been the best and worst moments at your bakery this year?
EJ: Best moment: watching our farmers markets succeed! Also getting to pick out
all the wonderful fruit and vegetables for the bakery, and, of course, getting into
Terra Madre! Worst moment: burning the ginger cookies—again! I guess it has
been a good year!
SF: What do you see as the most promising trend in the food movement?
EJ: People recognizing the crazy pace of life and making a decision to slow down. Seeing families coming out to the farmers markets and knowing that schools are starting to educate youth about food and healthy lifestyles.
SF: What is your favorite thing about your community?
EJ: My favorite thing about Santa Cruz is the acceptance of interesting lifestyles. You
see a little of everything here. There are also some of the most amazing small
family farms and a supportive community. We have some of the best food grown
SF: Do you have a favorite type of bread to bake?
EJ: I love baking the sourdough varieties. We have a traditional method of hand
mixing and proofing in baskets. I always feel like I have to take my time and not
rush. How nice is that? I also love to make pies. They are a great way to
celebrate the seasons.
SF: Have you ever taken a risk on a bread that ended up being a success? What was it?
EJ: An accident or risk was making a cracker recipe out of our sourdough starter. We
didn’t really know what would come of it, but turns out it makes a tasty cracker!
SF: What is the most inspirational book that you have read about what you do?
EJ: I love the book Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Very inspirational and honest.
It gave me hope and made me positive that I am on the right path. Peter Reinhart baking books are also some of my favorites.
SF: Last but not least, how was your Terra Madre experience?
EJ: My Terra Madre experience was one that I will look back on with very fond memories. What I was mostly inspired by was the community and human relations aspect of the conference. With thousands of participants and over 150 countries represented, I was in awe of the magnitude of the great connection to people to their food communities and empowering change. I am offering to give a presentation to my Santa Cruz community on my experience and what I feel I can bring to my own community through this experience.
What I would like to bring “home” is the idea that food brings us together every day. Coming together to harvest, prepare and eat a meal is a special daily opportunity to connect, build relationships and respect those around us. I am vowing to do this in my own life and through my small bakery.
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