What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, November 30, 2011 by Slow Food USA
A carnivore confronts the morality of meat by getting his hands bloody.
by Slow Food USA intern Lloyd Ellman
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the following graphically describes the slaughter of a live animal.
“I kind of hold their heads in my hand as the bleed out.”
“I don’t know. I guess to comfort them.”
One of the farmers confessed this as I stood, drenched in the unforgettable perfume of singed feathers and coppery death, contemplating the bittersweetness of a most American ritual. In all, I held nearly 50 heads over the course of that day.
Today, it’s become easy to ignore the fact that an animal was killed to provide me with meat. Just consider the store-bought-sterile prepackaged chicken cutlets found in most supermarkets that resemble a chicken about as much as I do. This emotional disconnect, sometimes termed carnism, prevents real compassion for farmed animals and is something, I suspect, introspective eaters struggle with frequently. I decided to tackle the problem head-on in an ongoing quest to settle my conscious and discover some truths about how meat can be good, clean, and fair.
Each year the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a Hudson Valley farm close to my heart, raises two flocks of turkeys for Thanksgiving. One breed is the commercially common Broad Breasted White, a creature that embodies the perils of Frankensteinian hybridization (its legs are too short to allow it to breed naturally), but it remains tasty and, more importantly, buxom.
The second flock comprises the gamey and wild Bourbon Red, a majestic heritage breed that fell out of favor in the 1930s and has experienced a revival in popularity, spurred by the deep flavor of its well-used musculature. These would be our quarry.
How do you slaughter a turkey? It was the first question that I asked and, depending on the answer, it is one that can speak volumes. There are any number of horrible stories and videos of mega-farms abusing helpless, suffering animals. These are unforgivable transgressions, but provide a useful contrast to my experience.
The real work of the slaughter, I discovered, is done by hand, with a blade no bigger than a paring knife and the assistance of a stainless steel cone that holds the turkey securely. Following the well-practiced example of my tutor I cupped the back of the bird’s neck and pinched between the spine and the trachea, creating a depression of pocked skin soft enough to slide the knife through without damaging the animal’s air supply. It takes two cuts, one on either side of the neck, to sever the two carotid arteries and release a disconcertingly warm stream of red.
After a few minutes the turkey, looking more and more like meat at each step, was scalded, plucked, and sent off to be disemboweled, cleaned, and finally packaged for sale.
Posted on Sat, November 19, 2011 by Hnin
“Nothing is certain but death and taxes”—but who said anything about using our tax dollars to support the foods that make us sick?
The last time we sent off our W-9s and cast our ballots, we don’t remember consenting to Congress aiding and abetting an industrial agriculture system that pollutes our land, pumps our food with harmful chemicals, and puts family farmers out of business. And we certainly didn’t consent to them botching the budget or undermining the American Dream. Yet, Congress continues to legislate the 1 percent’s policies without listening to the people. One might wonder if they still believe in the democratic process? Did they forget their dismal 9% approval rating? And are they completely ignoring the hundreds of “We are the 99 percent” protests across the country? Seems like Congress needs to be checked—big time.
Recognizing that these are pretty strong words, here’s a short list of why we think it’s important to tell it like it is, sans the subsidized sugar-coating:
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Posted on Fri, November 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a complex food system with a new cookbook, Eat Good Food.
by Slow Food USA intern Kate Northway
As our food system becomes more complex and consumers are taking an interest in the politics of production, supermarket aisles become more perplexing to navigate. Thankfully, Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a new cookbook, Eat Good Food. Alongside delicious meal ideas, Sam provides a commentary on how to shop for the highest quality foods. From produce to meat to breads and beer, Sam covers every part of a meal.
With the book in tow, I headed to my local market to see how the Bi-Rite book could help me craft a meal for a few friends. Throughout the book, Mogannam and Gough push the reader to become an active shopper, asking grocery store staff questions about where each product originates. The authors stress the importance of becoming a more conscious shopper as a way to become a better chef in the kitchen. After scanning the book, I had picked out three recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caper Lemon Butter, the Pescado Veracruzana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Glaze. All three recipes used simple ingredients easy to find at most stores.
Brussels sprouts have never been at the top of my list of favorite vegetables, so I wanted to see if Mogannam and Gough could turn me into a sprout fan. Using their advice, I looked for sprouts that were smaller, as they would produce a sweeter and more tender dish, and roasted the sprouts to obtain the most flavor.
While my local market has a bounty of produce, high quality cheeses and unique canned goods, the fish selection is sparse, selling mostly salmon and tuna. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t find the rockfish called for in the Pescado Veracruzano recipe. Instead, I decided to put the rest of the ingredients on top of farfalle, allowing me to use the authors’ tips for serving up some delicious pasta.
I already had most of the ingredients for the chocolate cake, but was missing the star of the show: chocolate. The sweet aisle in the store had plenty of organic, artisan bittersweet chocolate, but all were not in my price range. Sam and Dabney note that most grocery stores have large, random-weight pieces in the deli section that they weigh and price themselves and are almost always a better value than the bars or chips in the baking aisle. Plus, the large blocks of chocolate have a longer shelf life.
Posted on Mon, November 14, 2011 by Slow Food USA
An inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues.
by Slow Food USA intern Becca Chelton
At this time of year we are right in the middle of the harvest, and we will soon have a long winter to get through. However, it’s never too soon to start looking forward to the spring, especially if you have a new school garden to plan. One Slow Food NYC member has a new school garden project in the works that will bring a much needed school farm to Brownsville, Brooklyn. It’s an inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues. The project is being spearheaded by Nora Painten, who spent this summer running a very successful summer garden program for the local children. Seeing the overwhelming support of the community inspired Nora to start a new farm in a vacant lot near Public School 323.
“I was working in Brownsville this past summer, and every day I would bike past a lot of vacant lost, but this one stood out because it was big and sunny, so I looked it up and it turns out that it was owned by the city. I wasn’t totally sure that I would be this supported and encouraged, but since I have, it’s been moving really fast and snowballing. There is a public school about half a block away, which I had never noticed, but once I found the space and started looking into the school, it was just the perfect marriage of ideas.”
Nora’s plans include a new water system (as there is currently no water running to the property), growing beds, and fencing. These three basic elements will allow them to start sowing seeds, planting flowers, fruit trees and perennials, and installing a chicken coop.
If everything goes according to plan, classes will start in May 2012. Teachers of all subjects can teach aspects of their curriculum in the garden. A core group of older students will become garden stewards, who help tend it over the summer and distribute fresh food throughout the community. This project is just one example of how an individual member can make a huge difference to a community in need. Nora spoke to us about how she got inspired.
“The most important part of the project is to bring food education and fresh produce into a neighborhood where there is very little of that. Diabetes and other health problems can be avoided by a decent food education. I think it’s important to consider all neighborhoods in NYC when thinking about greening cities and gardens. Often it’s done in places where people can afford to spend time thinking about these things. It’s about getting to all kids early and turning them into life long healthy eaters. If they become healthy eaters as kids, that turns into demand and buying power at the farmers market and for local food products.”
Posted on Thu, November 10, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Check out our Thanksgiving guide for recipes, tips, tricks, and more.
This Thanksgiving we’re giving thanks to each and every person who works to make for a good, clean, and fair food available to everyone. Whether you’re packing your daughter’s lunch every day, managing a school garden, holding an endangered foods potluck, or reading Fast Food Nation together with friends, we’re moved and inspired by the surge of interest this movement has seen in the past year and the extraordinary work being done around the country and around the world.
We wanted to give something back, so we thought about what kinds of things people ask us for most and the number one thing is information about how to “go slow.” Cooking with fresh, local, seasonal, and heirloom foods is exciting and delicious, but it can be hard to know where to start. “What’s so special about heritage turkeys?” “Where can I buy them?” “I like the idea of using heirloom foods but I don’t know how to cook with them.” “Can I have a Slow Food meal that doesn’t cost a fortune?”
Our Thanksgiving 2011 Guide is here to help. It’s meant to help you:
We hope this is helpful, and if you have questions or suggestions email thanksgiving [at] slowfoodusa.org
Thanks again, and we wish you and your loved ones a holiday full of cheer and good eats.
Posted on Wed, November 09, 2011 by Hnin
Slow Food UW, the Slow Food on Campus chapter that inspired our $5 Challenge is up for a Real Food Award! Today’s the last day to vote—so let’s rock that while we can for our friends at UW.
Slow Food UW Madison has been tearing up the good food scene ever since the chapter opened in 2007. With several successful projects in operation, they continue to redefine student power in the campus food movement. When they’re not getting mad love and recognition with a Real Food Award nomination, they’re keeping busy with:
It’s no wonder that Slow Food UW is up for an award that’s meant to shine a spotlight on the people who represent the best of college food. By pairing Slow Food values with some sharp entrepreneurship, they’re able to offer their campus and community real food that’s both affordable and simply off the hook. It’s a radical recipe for change that’s introducing a young generation of eaters to a new vision for our food system and keeps them coming back for more! If you’re down with making good food with good values at good prices, don’t forget to vote for Slow Food UW for a Real Food Award!
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Posted on Mon, November 07, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Denver supports their local farmers and makes it fun!
What can a “Crop Mob” do for you? Actually, a lot! What is a crop mob? A crop mob is a group of individuals who gather to work on small, sustainable farms to help with everyday tasks assigned by the farmers! With the help of a group of supportive organizations, Laurie Schneyer of Slow Food Denver was able to create a series of Crop Mobs in the Denver area to assist sustainable farmers.
The project got started when Laurie came across Crop Mobbing in Urban Farm Magazine; Laurie perused the Crop Mob website, learning about the model. She took it, made a few adjustments, and used the system to help small farmers in the Denver area. She began networking; creating a coalition of concerned citizens with the goal of creating Crop Mobs of their own. Although the Crob Mob website suggests that any group only undertake one mob a month, Laurie decided to up the ante and in the first couple of months she had already organized 4 events, 2 of which occurred on the same day.
These events included successful Crop Mobs at Ekar Farm, the mobile farmers market known as The Gypsy Farm Bus, and the Urban Farm at Stapleton. Trees were planted at the Urban Farm courtesy of donations from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and the volunteers included students from the local schools. Other successful Crop Mobs were held at one of Grow Local Colorado’s park gardens, and the vegetable gardens at the Governor’s Mansion. Each event had a turnout of 10+ volunteers, and the larger events had 20-40 people to help mulch, plant, turn soil, and weed. The volunteers are almost never repeats, as the group gives people the opportunity to help out without a long-term commitment.
Laurie and Slow Food continue to gather forces in Denver, with the hopes that each month there will be more Crop Mobs and greater turnout. With the sponsorship and help of local organizations such as Slow Food Denver, Grow Local Colorado, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and Greater Denver Urban Homesteaders, the Crop Mobs continue to grow and sustainable farms continue to flourish.