What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, April 25, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Nourish, a national educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, particularly in schools and communities, has launched their Video Encyclopedia.
Nourish, a national educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, particularly in schools and communities, has launched their Video Encyclopedia, a collection of short films that explore the story of our food. In the above clip, author Michael Pollan describes how the simple act of eating offers us an intimate connection with the soil. From supporting organic farms to gardening and composting, we can nourish the Earth through our everyday food choices and practices.
The Dirt on Soil
Fertile soil is essential to food production. Soil consists of minerals, water, air, and living and dead organic matter, which are all needed to support healthy plants. Through natural processes, it can take hundreds to thousands of years to form one inch of nutrient-rich, organic topsoil.
It is estimated that a cup of fertile topsoil contains more than 6 billion organisms, or as many people as there are on Earth. Five to 10 tons of animal life inhabit an acre of soil, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, earthworms, mice, moles, and other creatures.
Soil depletion, or loss of fertility, occurs when nutrients are taken from the soil but not replaced. Over-tilling, monocrop farming, and use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides deplete the soil, leading to a loss of organic matter and soil structure. According to the United Nations, we lose about 75 tons of soil each year. Loss of soil means less food.
Posted on Thu, April 21, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Last month we asked you for contributions towards Michael Pollan’s next edition of Food Rules
. From the thousands of replies we received, Pollan picked 3.
Last month we asked you, the Slow Food network, for contributions towards Michael Pollan’s next edition of Food Rules
, to be illustrated by Maira Kalman. From the thousands of replies we received, Pollan picked 3. His picks are below.
Many thanks for the outpouring of food wisdom. More than 4,000 of you answered my request for your personal food rules—truly overwhelming, and enormously helpful as I sit down to complete the new illustrated edition ofFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
After sifting through all of the submissions, I’ve decided to include these three excellent rules:
Place a bouquet on the table and everything will taste twice as good. – Gisbert P. Auwaerter, Cutchogue, NY
Love your spices. They add richness and depth to food without salt. – Claire Cheney, Jamaica Plain, MA
When you eat real food, you don’t need rules. – Mandy Gerth
Not only is there real wisdom in these words, but it seems to me the ideas here beautifully reflect the values of Slow Food. I’m grateful to have them in the book. The winners will each receive a copy signed by both me and Maira Kalman, when it is published in November.
There were many other interesting and provocative rules, though some of them were less useful or scientifically verifiable than entertaining. Three of my favorites:
Eat Pringles only with diet soda.
The French fries you pick off someone else’s plate carry no calories.
White bread is only good for picking up glass or cleaning typewriter keys.
Heartfelt thanks to all of you for engaging in this conversation. Your contributions vindicated the premise of both the book and of Slow Food, which is that the conversation of culture has more to teach us about how to eat healthily and happily than all the nutritional studies, government advisories, and food industry promises.
Posted on Mon, April 18, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
After months of planning and planting, a fleet of 25 Truck Farmers across the country are about to take to the road. One snag! Not enough trucks.
by Hnin Hnin
Some farmers have thousands of acres of land. Some farmers have a few. Truck Farmers have a pile of dirt in the back of a pickup truck. Truck Farm is a simple concept with a big impact. It’s a mini-mobile farm, an edible exhibit, and the focus of a documentary coming out this winter. What exactly can you do with a 4x8 bed of soil and seeds on wheels? Add an ambitious farmer with the passion to teach kids about growing and eating healthy food, and you’ve got one of the coolest urban agriculture projects around. That’s why Slow Food USA has partnered up with Truck Farm to recruit some of the freshest new urban farmers in town.
After months of planning and planting, a fleet of 25 Truck Farmers across the country are about to take to the road, popping up at schools, camps, street fairs, outdoor concerts, and anywhere else large groups of youth congregate. They’re revved up and ready to go…
BUT there’s one snag—7 of the 25 farmers don’t have a truck! Meet Cate Brennan, a student and leader of Slow Food University of Rhode Island. With your help, she and her group can become some of the youngest Truck Farmers on the fleet.
Posted on Fri, April 15, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today is the 56th birthday of the opening of McDonald’s first franchise store.
Happy Birthday! Don’t be mad, but I didn’t get you anything. It’s not that 56 isn’t a big important milestone. It means you’re old enough to retire! (something to consider?)
One of the first birthday parties I ever went to was at a McDonald’s. It was Tiffany’s party, on the lower level of a Manhattan McDonald’s. We had balloons on the backs of our chairs, and were served ice cream cake at the end.
It wasn’t my first time in a McDonald’s though. I grew up across the street from you and one of my first foods was a McD’s french fry. I loved the little paper bag they came in, how it became translucent with fryer grease as I slowly made my way through the bag. I loved the chairs and how they swiveled on their axes, allowing me to spin half way around and back again, bopping my head from side to side and sucking on a fry like it was a lollipop.
This was in 1978 or so, when you were a young 23 year-old company, and just beginning your world travels. I gotta say, it was kind of a genius move, McDonald’s, inviting little kids in for parties, inscribing McD’s into our earliest memories of celebration. You lured me in with Happy Meals (it’s true! They make you happy!); kept me occupied with plastic toys; left me grinning with each sweet/salty/greasy bite. Left me so hungry for McDonald’s I sought you out on family vacation to France.
I must confess, though, that something happened to me. You probably didn’t notice and I can’t say exactly how or why it happened, but I stopped spending birthdays with you. I haven’t even visited for so much as a large fries in what might be close to 20 years. And not to get you really p.o’d but it’s not that I don’t eat french fries, it’s just that I don’t eat them with you.
But enough about me—this is about you! You’ve come a long way since opening that first franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. And while I’m not sorry that we’ve parted ways over the years, I figured I’d take a moment to say “Happy Birthday” McDonald’s—hope you get to eat an apple pie in celebration (baked, these days, not fried).
Posted on Tue, April 12, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food on Campus leader Erin Swenson-Klatt reports back on her trip to Washington DC.
Thank you so much for the generous donation that helped send me to Washington D.C. to advocate for sustainable agriculture programs with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. I know that you too believe in the need for a Good, Clean and Fair food system – the kind of food system that will ensure that our children, land and communities are healthy ones – and I appreciate your help in passing that message on directly to our congressional leaders.
At a time when we are all feeling the effects of a tough economy, some seem to think that programs supporting sustainable farming practices, young and minority farmers, conservation in our rural communities and forward-thinking agriculture research are luxuries we can’t afford as a nation. To the contrary, it is the loss of such programs that we can’t afford!
This week I visited four congressional offices in D.C. with two farmers from the Toledo area, Kurt and Marty, to remind our elected representatives that real people will be affected by cuts to sustainable agriculture programs. We knew that these programs are efficient and effective both at offering greater resources to innovative farmers and at revitalizing rural communities, which is something we should all be able to get behind.
While the current economic crisis demands sacrifices, it should also necessitate compromises among everyone who draws on agriculture funding. This was a critical week for us to make this message heard in Washington D.C., and Kurt and I were proud to be there among more than 30 other farmers and farm advocates from around the country to represent Slow Food USA.
Posted on Mon, April 11, 2011 by Slow Food USA
When local chef Nathalie Dupree suggested Slow Food Charleston enter the Let’s Move for Healthy Kids Contest, they had no idea it would be a hit; they’re now one of fifteen semifinalists across the country!
When local chef Nathalie Dupree suggested Slow Food Charleston enter the Let’s Move! Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest, they had no idea it would be a hit; they’re now one of fifteen semifinalists across the country! Partnering with local school food service directors, chefs, local culinary schools representatives, and MUSC Lean Team! advocates, the team got to work. The group worked quickly to bring together a team of students from Burke Middle/High School, a Title One school. Together they collaborated with students to create a kid-approved Southern-style soup that met strict nutritional guidelines. They call it Confetti Soup.
The Recipes for Healthy Kids project marks the beginning of a larger Chefs in Schools initiative developed by Slow Food Charleston. As part of the new initiative, the chapter hopes to improve the quality of food in schools, and with it, create a new generation of healthy eaters. Chefs in Schools will provide ‘taste education’ to students by working directly with area chefs to make great tasting healthy food and provide food service personnel with the tools necessary to bring fresh, healthy meals to students by funding classes at nearby culinary schools. The pilot program is set to begin this summer in two counties.
In the meantime, Burke Middle/High School and Slow Food Charleston are enjoying their semifinalist status, and looking forward to the next stages of the competition. This spring a team of USDA judges will visit the school to try out the Confetti Soup and determine whether or not the group will move on to the final round. You can show your support by voting for the group’s Confetti Soup recipe as the People’s Choice. Simply visit this site (click here) between now and May 15th to cast your vote!
The winning team is pictured above (left to right):
Ms. Carol Rivers (Burke Culinary Arts Teacher)
Jennifer Moore (MUSC Lean Team and Slow Food Charleston)
Auja Ravanel (Burke Middle School student)
Keshawn Jones (Burke Middle School student)
Craig Deihl (Executive Chef- Cypress Restaurant)
Quantifah Lockwood (Burke High School student)
Tyler Manigault (Burke High School student)
Erin Boudolf (CCSD School Nutrition Services Dietician)
(not pictured-Coleen Martin- MUSC Lean Team)
Posted on Fri, April 08, 2011 by Slow Food USA
A new book called ” ‘Chasing Chiles’ captures the essence of why people continue, against all odds, to grow the food that they love.”
Chasing Chiles, a new book by Kurt Friese, Gary Nabhan and Kraig Kraft, looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper—from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role.
Below is an excerpt from chapter 3 of Chasing Chiles, :
One of the most delightful food discoveries for us in Mérida was xnipek (pronounced SHNEE-peck). The name comes from the Mayan language and means “dog’s nose.” Unappetizing as that might sound at first, rest assured there is no dog in the recipe. It’s simply a reference to this salsa’s heat level. Hot chiles can cause the nose to run, thus the metaphor.
There’s more to xnipek than just heat, though. It not only uses the Yucatecan powerhouse chile—the habanero—but also includes the native fruit known as naranja agria, or bitter orange, which is also the secret to great Yucatecan escabeche. It’s hard to find fresh in the States, so there’s a brief recipe for a reasonable facsimile following our rendition of this fiery relish.
We found many versions of xnipek in our travels around the Yucatán. All had the habanero and bitter orange, but beyond that they varied widely. This is why we prefer the term genuine to authentic—it allows for many interpretations while still remaining true to tradition.
Xnipek is one of the salsas collectively referred to as Pico de Gallo, or “beak of the chicken,” a reference either to the size of the chopped ingredients or to chicken feed. It’s made of many ingredients chopped together to form more of a relish than a sauce (or salsa). Our favorite renditions include the unique addition of fresh cabbage, which adds another layer of flavor and crunch.
½ cup green cabbage, chopped or shredded
2 fresh habanero chiles, seeded and minced (you could substitute any chile, but you’d lose the right to call it “genuine”)
2 medium-ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1 red onion, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh-squeezed bitter orange juice (or use the facsimile, below, but stick with fresh)
3–4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Soak the cabbage in ice water for an hour or so to make it crispy. Drain and dry thoroughly using a salad spinner or paper towels.
Toss the cabbage together with the habaneros, tomatoes, onion, and bitter orange juice. Let stand at room temperature for a couple of hours, or in the refrigerator overnight, then add the fresh chopped cilantro right before service.
Yields around 2 cups
Makeshift Bitter Orange Juice
Combine in a 2:1:1 ratio, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lime juice. Let stand for an hour. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 day.
Posted on Thu, April 07, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Every Sunday night at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one might find students gathered for a shared meal of any type of theme or global cuisine.
by Claire Brandow
Every Sunday night at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one might find students gathered for a shared meal of any type of theme or global cuisine. Dinner could be Vietnamese banh mi, a feast of Indian aloo mater and kheer, or an impressive spread of ramp pesto and sorrel soup for a local foods dinner. Though the food and atmosphere change weekly, the objective stays the same: with each of these Family Dinner Nights, the members of Slow Food University of Wisconsin put the philosophy of Slow Food into action. Every meal is a chance to educate and promote the value of good, clean, and fair food in a convivial atmosphere.
Slow Food University of Wisconsin-Madison is particularly active in two venues: improving the campus food system and campaigning to raise awareness about food and agriculture issues. The Family Dinner Nights are at the core of SFUW’s work. Each night includes a cooking lesson followed by a communal dinner. SFUW recently received a gift of pots, pans, and kitchen gadgets from Anolon Cookware as part of the company’s “Creating a Delicious Future” initiative. Everything from the cooking to cleaning is communal: not only is the food prepared and enjoyed together, five people each week sign up to help with cleaning in exchange for a free meal.
The two-year tradition of Family Dinner Night now attracts as many as 100 students each week. SFUW uses each night to educate on a different topic, whether it is a cultural lesson on the country of that meal’s origins or a lecture on the food movement and food sovereignty. Dinners also often serve to benefit local family farms and promote local producers and vendors.
SFUW co-leader Danny Spitzberg insists newcomers should always feel welcome. “We don’t bite until dinner is ready! We’re an evolving community. We always welcome anyone interested in eating good food, meeting new people, and having good old fashioned fun.”
Posted on Mon, April 04, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Proceeds from McSweeney’s quirky first cookbook will benefit Slow Food USA.
by Lindsay Dula
You might know McSweeney’s as a clever, thoughtful, and often funny literary journal. It’s also a small publishing house that has launched a food imprint. First dish up? A new book called Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant. It promises to be a fun and interesting combination of cookbook and food-related essays. Here’s how the publisher, McSweeney’s, describes it:
Mission Street Food is a restaurant. But it’s also a charitable organization, a taco truck, a burger stand, and a clubhouse for inventive cooks tucked inside an unassuming Chinese take-out place. In all its various incarnations, it upends traditional restaurant conventions, in search of moral and culinary satisfaction.
Like Mission Street Food itself, this book is more than one thing: it’s a cookbook featuring step-by-step photography and sly commentary, but it’s also the memoir of a madcap project that redefined the authors’ marriage and a city’s food scene. Along with stories and recipes, you’ll find an idealistic business plan, a cheeky manifesto, and thoughtful essays on issues ranging from food pantries to fried chicken. Plus, a comic.
We are happy to announce that proceeds from every sale of this book will go directly to Slow Food USA, with our organization receiving $10 for every $30 pre-order of Mission Street Food—but only pre-orders through the McSweeney’s store. After the publication date in July, we will receive $5 per book ordered through McSweeney’s and $1 per book purchased indirectly.
Pre-order your copy of Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant though McSweeney’s and support Slow Food USA’s efforts toward good, clean and fair food.
The authors describe the reasons for this decision on their blog; you can read it by clicking here.
Posted on Sat, April 02, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Help schools serve healthy food: email the USDA with your suggestions for implementing the Child Nutrition Act.
Last year, thanks to your efforts, the Child Nutrition Act passed with increased funding for each school meal, commitment to farm to school programs, and increased nutrition standards for all foods found on school campuses. THANK YOU.
Now that the dust has settled, we must ensure that schools are given the tools to put these historic wins into practice. What will those changes mean for lunch ladies and school nutrition directors as they try to get real food onto the lunch trays of our nation’s children? As the USDA figures out how to move forward from legislation to real live lunch, they are seeking input from you. The comment period is open until April 13th.
Help schools serve healthy food: email the USDA with your suggestions for implementing the Child Nutrition Act. We’ve got suggested comments here that you can simply copy and then paste onto the USDA’s form. Of course you should also feel very free to write in your own words.
Simply CLICK ON THIS LINK. Then you paste/type your comments into the comment box. Easy!
We commend the USDA for updating school standards—we just want to make sure that school food directors are empowered to make these changes, and given the support they need. These updated standards should be allowed to succeed rather than becoming unfair burdens to the schools as they try to implement them. We’re following the lead of our partners at School Food FOCUS, who work with school nutrition directors, and understand the on-the-ground challenges they face. We think it is vitally important to support school cafeterias so that they can bring healthy, delicious, local food to the lunchroom.
We urge the USDA to: