What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, August 31, 2011 by Slow Food USA
The new Backyard Bounty Co-op program supports micro-entrepreneurs by connecting aspiring urban farmers and market gardeners with local food markets.
By Maika Horjus
Backyard Bounty Co-op program coordinator
Urban Abundance Intern
Last February, over fifty people squeezed into the historic Minnehaha Grange Hall in Vancouver, WA to learn about a new opportunity opening up through local non-profit Urban Abundance: an “urban farmer’s co-op” geared towards greenthumbed city dwellers passionate about growing good food and looking to earn some income from their garden bounty. The new program, christened Backyard Bounty Co-op by its founding members, aims to support micro-entrepreneurs. It connects aspiring urban farmers and market gardeners with local food markets by pooling resources, sharing costs, building capacity, and providing a range of services to its members. Backyard Bounty offers support with marketing, accounting, market logistics, and—not least—a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and a vibrant sense of community.
During its first season, Backyard Bounty members have worked closely with one another and with Urban Abundance staff to operate market booths at venues throughout Clark County. Growers’ products are aggregated and sold side-by-side or intermingled at the market booth. A 20% consignment fee goes towards Co-op operating costs and the rest of the profit is divided proportionally based on each grower’s contribution. Responsibility for setting up and staffing the booth is shared among growers and volunteers and regular meetings offer an opportunity for discussion, collective decision-making, and community-building. Throughout the process, the goal is to help growers enter and thrive in the marketplace—a task that can be daunting or even impossible for small-scale growers working on their own.
Posted on Fri, August 26, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
“In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?” the author asks.
Earlier this summer, as I was hauling a bag of farmers market produce home 15 blocks and up four flights of stairs, sweating bullets, cursing my choice to buy a melon (they’re heavy!), I stopped mid-step.
“Does it really have to be this hard?” I asked myself.
My story is particular to me, of course, but all over the country there are people trying to put food on the table and asking themselves “does it really have to be this hard?”
I was living, at the time, in a neighborhood with few supermarkets. The ones within a long walking distance were either very expensive or lacking the seasonal produce I craved. So on weekends I would hike over to the big farmers market. But at the farmers market I always find myself of two minds. In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?
When people ask me: “Doesn’t the food you eat (some mix of local, sustainable, organic, etc.) cost so much more than “regular” food?” I protest and agree at the same time. When they say “Doesn’t cooking from scratch take a lot of time?” I remember the awesome pasta I cooked the other night that took 7.5 minutes. But also the weekend of foraging I did going from one store to the next.
I live in New York City; I make a living wage; I am not trying to feed a family; I work on these issues for a living. If I find it hard/tiring/expensive sometimes, what must other people feel?
In the spirit of this conundrum, Slow Food USA launched the $5 Challenge last week.
Posted on Wed, August 24, 2011 by Hnin
Written by 125 teens, the Youth Food Bill of Rights is a declaration for justice in the food system and beyond.
Last month, my buddy Corey from GOLES and I joined 125 youth and 45 adult allies from across the country at the Rooted in Community (RIC) Leadership Summit in Philly to draft and launch a “Youth Food Bill of Rights”. Written by teens, the YFBR is a living document that is a declaration for justice in the food system and beyond.
As someone who became politicized about food system issues after reading Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation at 17, it was amazing to bear witness to so many youth coming together around their shared values and vision for a more just food system. When I was growing up, “sustainable food” or “food justice” wasn’t a part of anyone’s vocabulary in school or out of school—especially not in my immigrant, working class neighborhood in Brooklyn. The only words I ever saw attached to “food” was “stamps”.
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Posted on Fri, August 19, 2011 by Slow Food USA
How a community paid their respects to a dear farmer by ensuring others could share his inspiration.
By Intern Howard Lanney
Josh Levine left New York City and his career as a real estate broker to follow his dream of becoming an organic farmer. Josh began as a volunteer at Quail Hill Farm in the summer of 2008, before progressing to a summer apprentice the next year, and finally accepting a full time position in the spring of 2010. In a tragic farm accident on November 30th, Josh’s dream was cut short. Josh’s legacy however, and his passion for farming and education will live on through the Levine Farming Internship, a project of Slow Food East End.
“It was a sudden and tragic thing and our community needed to do something,” says Slow Food East End Education chair and local chef Bryan Futerman. The Levine family decided the best way to honor Josh would be through an internship for young farmers that would carry along the spirit of the work that Josh was doing. From that point “people really jumped on it,” Futerman says. A Slow Food dinner was held in Josh’s honor, with many restaurants donating to the cause.
After a successful fundraiser, Slow Food East End formed a group through their education subcommittee to determine how to structure the Josh Levine Farming Internship. Eventually two internships were awarded at the Sylvester Manor farm on Shelter Island. “We wanted to honor individuals and not an organization,” says Futerman, “we decided Sylvester Manor would be a great place to carry on the Slow Food tradition.”
On June 15th, community and Slow Food members gathered at Sylvester Manor to present the Levine Farming internship to Nate Kraus-Malett and Bobby Walden. Walden, who plans to be on the farm for at least two seasons and has an interest in livestock development was excited about the opportunity. “I feel blessed to be part of a movement that is actively working to address some of the important problems surrounding food production in this country,” says Walden, who is already active in Slow Food as a 2008 Terra Madre delegate. Walden continues, “the support of Josh’s friends and family…instills in me all I will ever need to know that I am making the right choice in pursuing this life…The world needs us.”
“Education was [Josh’s] passion,” says Futerman, “teaching farming is an important thing and it was an honor to be able to participate.” The chapter hopes to continue their efforts in the future and for Josh Levine’s legacy to live on through the education of many young farmers.
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Posted on Thu, August 18, 2011 by Hnin
Celebrate eating on a budget because good food shouldn’t cost more than $5 a meal.
Most of us can relate to eating on the cheap. When your bills keep piling up and your bank balance is approaching broke, food tends to be the first budget item on the chopping block. Even when the economy isn’t in the slumps, eating well should always be affordable. This week’s recap of our Table Talk recipe contest features stories from the “Best on a Budget” category, which celebrates meals that cost $5 or less per serving.
First place winner Jenny Sherman’s Minnesota Fish Tacos were inspired by her experience fishing in the wilderness and her passion for eating locally. “Every ingredient in this recipe was caught or gathered, handmade or farmed locally in Minnesota; the two main ingredients grow there wild and were sustainably harvested.”
Read Jenny’s recipe for Minnesota Fish Tacos here.
2nd and 3rd place winners after the jump.
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Posted on Wed, August 17, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Today, Slow Food USA launches the $5 Challenge, our campaign to take back the value meal.
Posted on Mon, August 15, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA officially joined several other food & farming organizations in support of the plaintiff farmers in the recently filed lawsuit against Monsanto.
In June we shared an interview with farmer (and Slow Food leader) Tom Willey (click here to read). Tom is one of many plaintiffs in a landmark case against Monsanto.
Monsanto has a history of taking farmers to court if they’re found to be in possession of patented plant material without permission, even if the plant material came to their fields inadvertently. Tired of living in fear of lawsuits that they claim are unjust, a group of farmers, seed savers, and farm advocates is challenging the agribusiness giant’s right to continue the practice.
In solidarity with the plaintiffs, and in collaboration with several other food and farming organizations, Slow Food USA has signed an “amicus brief” that expresses why we feel that patenting of seeds is bad for farmers and bad for farming.
To read the entire brief click here.
Posted on Mon, August 15, 2011 by Intern
Participants of the Willamette Food and Farm Coalition’s Farm to School project make frequent trips to local farms to learn and see first hand where their food comes from.
by intern Sasha Hippard
The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition’s Farm to School project just finished their spring season with great success! Through lessons both on the farm and in the kitchen, students left with an increased knowledge of where their food comes from, how to prepare it, and the benefits of eating local and healthy ingredients.
The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition is a community based non-profit based in Lane County, Oregon. They represent a diverse group of stakeholders in the local food systems, from farmers and producers to restaurateurs and consumers. The Farm to School project is aimed at educating Lane County kids about where their food comes from and working to incorporate locally grown produce into the meals served in schools.
As participants of the Farm to School project, students make frequent trips to local farms to learn and see first hand where their food comes from. However, thanks to the recent Anolon donation which included veggie peelers, cooking pots and pans, measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas, students can take this experience one step further. Not only can students see where their food comes from, but learn how to use it as well. From the farms, fresh fruits and veggies are harvested, and eggs gathered. Once in the classroom, students get busy cooking in small groups. By cooking up a snack with the food they’ve harvested themselves, students not only learn valuable lessons on food production and farming, but also tasty ways to use the ingredients they just saw produced.
With help from adult volunteers, kids have whipped up corn cakes with fresh strawberries, green salad with veggies and home-made ranch dressing, and scrambled eggs with sautéed greens. In the fall, the groups will return to the farms to harvest. Plans are being made to extend the repertoire of recipes further and make things like fresh salsa, potatoes with leeks and broccoli, and veggie soup with noodles. Yum.
Having good cooking supplies makes cooking fun and easy and connects kids to the source of their food to inspire healthy eating habits. The next master chef or revolutionary organic farmer just might come from this group of inspired (and full) kids!
Posted on Fri, August 12, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Earlier this year, we called for immediate action on a pesticide that scientists believe is contributing to massive honeybee die-offs — and today we heard the EPA’s response.
Earlier this year, tens of thousands of Slow Food supporters came together to demand that the EPA keep its promise to investigate the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder. Their actions helped make a buzz about the devastating future that lies ahead if we don’t act now to save the bees that bring us one in every four bites of our food. They invited friends to sign a petition supported by a “swarm” of hundreds of handmade bees (see left), each representing 100 bee petition signatures. They shared the fact sheet we created about bees and food. And dozens organized screenings of the documentary “Vanishing of the Bees” in libraries and living rooms all around the country. We called for immediate action on a kind of pesticide that scientists believe is contributing to massive honeybee die-offs — and today we heard the EPA’s response. According to a spokesperson from the Office of Pesticide Programs:
Posted on Thu, August 11, 2011 by Hnin
Three homecooks show us that good food doesn’t require hours in the kitchen.
by Kelsey Wickel, Intern
Whether we’re holding down three jobs, working long hours, or knee deep in volunteer projects, we don’t always have the most time to cook. Luckily, for those of us trying to stay healthy in our busy lives, good food doesn’t require hours in the kitchen. This week’s featured Table Talk contest category is “Slow Food Done Fast”. Three homecooks show us how to whip up some great, quick and easy meals.
Sarah Mooney’s first place-winning Spring Gnudi takes advantage of Portland’s abundance of local producers. She buys raw milk to make her own ricotta for this recipe. “I am drawn to the simplicity of the meal and how fresh and spring-like it is,” reflects Mooney, who also believes that a lot of the recipe’s freshness comes from using the vegetables and eggs from her own backyard. Though gnudies usually call for fried sage and brown butter, Sarah likes to use whatever is in season – peas, asparagus, broccoli raab, and more.
Read Sarah’s recipe for Spring Gnudi here.
2nd and 3rd place winners after the jump.
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