What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, March 29, 2012 by Slow Food USA
By any measure, the local food movement is booming with everyone from Wall Street execs to start up non-profits getting involved. But how can you tell if your food is truly local?
Written by Jeffrey Gangemi, Director of Partnerships and Communications at FarmPlate.com
The numbers clearly show that demand for local food is growing. According to the USDA, the market for local food “sales to intermediaries, such as local grocers and restaurants, as well as directly to consumers through farmers markets, roadside stands and the like” could reach $7 billion this year, up from about $5 billion in 2008.
There are lots of ways to support the local food movement. Of course, starting a farm, investing in sustainable food businesses – even buying organic – all require relatively significant financial resources.
Increasingly – and particularly through the use of technology – people from all sorts of backgrounds are able to do their part to support the small farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs that are remaking how we eat in this country. Their message is clear: we can all do something to help fix what’s broken about our food system.
At the top of this local food “hierarchy,” there is an growing group of transplants from traditional corporate cultures – Wall Street, for example – who have reinvented themselves through food production.
Posted on Tue, March 27, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The Manioc root can be found in many of your favorite dishes, but not on anyone’s bookshelf. Sara Franklin hopes to change that with a new book taking on this ubiquitous, versatile food and its its gastronomic importance.
Written by Sara Franklin, independent writer, multi-media producer, co-author of the forthcoming book, The Manioc Route: Exploring the Foundations of Brazilian Cuisine with Teresa Corção
Maybe you’ve had stewed yuca in a Cuban restaurant or pounded fufu in a West African joint. Tapioca—you’ve seen it in gluten-free breads, in the pearls in your bubble tea, or, of course, in pudding (the molecular gastronomy crowd can’t get enough of the stuff and its magical stabilizing powers!). And if you’ve been to Brazil (or a Brazilian restaurant, for that matter), you have, no doubt, come across pão de queijo—those chewy little cheese breads—and sprinkled farofa on your meat, fish, rice and beans. But did you know that all of these foods come from a single plant?
Manioc root—also commonly known as cassava, yuca and tapioca—is originally from the Amazon region of Brazil, and today is the fifth most important staple crop in the world (maize, rice, wheat and potatoes are ahead on the list).
Posted on Fri, March 23, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Panelists, including Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel, discuss “The Future of Food”, the landmark speech and now book by Prince Charles.
Written by Lizzy Ott, Slow Food USA intern
Earlier this month, Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel participated in a panel discussion on His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales’ landmark book, On the Future of Food (see clip below). The book is based on a keynote speech Prince Charles gave at Georgetown University’s 2011 conference, “The Future of Food.” Released in February, the book addresses key issues in moving towards a more effective global food system. Simply put, HRH’s vision is that our food supply needs to resolve world problems rather than create them.
Prince Charles has been advocating a more sustainable approach to agriculture for over 30 years. However, he is committed not only to revolutionizing the way food is produced, but also to making us more aware of our individual relationships to it. And in his speech, he called on the general public to implement their own sustainable models of food production.
Posted on Wed, March 21, 2012 by Slow Food USA
In an effort to defend Colorado’s North Fork Valley from a “land attack”, Slow Food Western Slope organized the Rocky Mountain region to save the Slope.
Written by Jim Brett, Slow Food Western Slope (CO) Chapter Leader
On December 7, 2011 (a day that will live in infamy again) western Colorado’s North Fork Valley received an early holiday gift from the Bureau of Land Management’s Uncompaghre Field Office, which announced that 22 parcels of over 30,000 acres will be up for oil and gas lease sale set for August 2012. Looking at the BLM map, we could see that the North Fork Valley is completely surrounded by these parcels.
This Valley is an agricultural gem that embodies Slow Food’s principles of envisioning a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for those who produce it.
There are over 70 winemakers, farmers, orchardists, ranchers and agricultural businesses in North Fork Valley - all of which depend on good and clean water, air and soil. If oil and gas interests start production on these leases, the very lifeblood of the agricultural producers will be seriously threatened and probably ruined since the parcels include the watersheds of the entire Valley. And just as damaging, air pollution will engulf the Valley. These circumstances are totally unacceptable to us.
Posted on Sat, March 17, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A first attempt at corned beef, a quest for authentically preserving cultural tradition.
Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Last night I made corned beef and cabbage for the first time in my life. To be honest, it was the first time anyone in my family has made the dish, to my knowledge. This will come as some surprise to those who know me as someone who fully embraces his Irish-American heritage, but carrying on the Irish culinary tradition has never been a priority in our kitchen. That’s not to say we were without our ancestral culture. It’s hard to avoid it growing up Irish-Catholic in a working- class Irish neighborhood in an incredibly Irish city, but it was never something we sought out.
There certainly were little things, though—my mother, the daughter of an Irish immigrant from County Cork, drilled into my head that each dinner must include 3 things: meat, potatoes, and milk. This caused some confusion when I was introduced to the food pyramid in school and saw no potato section. My grandfather brought these “Irish food groups” from the farm in Cork to his family in the US and left most everything else there, but I yearned for something more authentic – I wanted brown bread and jam, the Dubliners on soundtrack, and whiskey in the jar. What I got was supermarket-brand bread, the Monkees, and two parents who didn’t drink.
Posted on Thu, March 15, 2012 by Slow Food USA
All you hear about these days is going green. On St. Patrick’s Day this Saturday, you’ll be called on to wear green. Now, Slow Food USA member and author, Cheryl Sternman Rule, shows you how to eat green, literally.
Written by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Slow Food USA member and author of the new cookbook, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables
Green as a word has become so closely aligned with notions of environmental stewardship that we’ve forgotten its most common meaning. Before it promised that your detergent was nontoxic and your dry cleaner renounced plastic death-sacks, before it denoted sustainability, responsibility, and eco-friendly-ability, the word green meant, you know, green. As in, the color of moss, that dollar in your wallet, and a big, shiny Granny Smith apple, the one just waiting for a smear of peanut butter or a fat hunk of cheese.
It’s time to celebrate the best and, literally, greenest offerings to come—at the farm stand, in the produce aisle, and in your own garden. With the approach of St. Patrick’s Day and spring waving hello, let’s momentarily sidestep the corned beef and give almost-here green vegetables their due. (Cabbage will get plenty of love this week, so I’ll skip it below.)
Posted on Thu, March 08, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Yolo co-leaders Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans new book details their efforts to cook in California school system with California foods.
Written by Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans co-leaders of Slow Food Yolo and coauthors of the 2011 book, “Cooking with California Foods in K-12 Foods”
The birth of a book has multiple backstories, as does this one. It began in a small, college town across the Sacramento River from California’s state capital. Davis, a middle class, well-educated, progressive community with a unified school district of 8,500 students, had not given thought to school lunch until a small group of disgruntled moms got together, horrified by “lunchables” served as a treat. Ann, former Mayor of Davis, was one of those moms.
Seven years later, there was a central kitchen, salad bars, gardens in every school and a waste reduction program at the elementary level. The school food service director, along with the community, which by then had formed into a school lunch booster club commonly called farm to school, wanted more.
On a chef’s walk through the Davis Farmers Market, school food service staff joined regional restaurant chefs in their chef whites strolling through the market, marveling at the fresh fruits and vegetables. A new vision was born. Rafaelita “RC” Curva, Food Service Director, said, “I wish someone could come and show us how to cook with all of this.”
Georgeanne, an award winning cookbook author and cooking school proprietor, said, “I can.”
Posted on Tue, March 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Four of the youngest leaders in the Slow Food movement walk us through how they founded a Slow Food chapter at their high school in Iowa City.
Written by Bennett Thompson, Benjamin West, Elizabeth Vandenberg, and Joseph Malanson
We are students from Iowa City West High School, and Slow Food USA’s youngest members. Surrounded by the corn and soybean fields of southeast Iowa, we’ve all grown up in the spirit of agriculture, but with varying visions of what a farm should be. Over the past two years, our activities as a part of Slow Food have formed our understanding of sustainability and good food.
The first time I heard about Slow Food was September 2010, when I listened to chef Kurt Friese speak at his restaurant, Devotay. I asked him what high-schoolers like me could do to help the cause. He said it’s simple: start a Slow Food chapter at our school.
So, that’s what we did. We got in touch with Slow Food USA & through the Slow Food on Campus program, our fledgling club become a proper chapter—the first and only High School Chapter in the country. Just like that, the West High Slow Food Chapter was up and running—described to the rest of the student body as one part environmental, one part culinary club. At our first meeting we decided we wanted to do something big, something that would not only tell students, but show them how proper food should grow and taste. Naturally, the solution was to start a garden. To tell that story, I’ll pass it on to Benjamin, another West High Slow Food leader.
- Bennett Thompson, ‘12, West High School Slow Food (WHSF) Leader
Posted on Thu, March 01, 2012 by Slow Food USA
In Sonoma County, California, Slow Food Russian River has helped local growers bring a famed apple back into production.
Written by Deirdra Stockmann, formerly of Slow Food Huron Valley (MI)
Sonoma County, California, is known the world around for wine. But for over 100 years the region was praised for its tree fruit, and its apples in particular. Arguably the most hallowed of the apples grown in the region is the Gravenstein. As one of the first apples to ripen in late summer, a fresh Gravenstein signals the coming of fall and marks the beginning of the autumn harvest.
Russian settlers brought the Gravenstein to California in the mid-19th century. Its genetic roots run even deeper into the soils of northern Europe where it was likely developed a century earlier. In and around Sebastapol, California, in the heart of Sonoma County, schools, streets, even a highway bear the name of the crisp, sweet apple. These landmarks are evidence of the Gravenstein’s prominent place in the (agri)cultural and culinary history of the region. (Learn more about the history here.)
At the turn of the 21st century, however, the Gravenstein was disappearing. Grapes, which also grow well in Coastal California, have become far more profitable than apples and other tree fruit. As David Masumoto’s memoir, Epitaph for a Peach, recounts, many farmers have been all but forced to plow under their generations-old orchards home to scores of varieties of apples, peaches, and plums to grow grapes, primarily for large-scale wine production.
Unwilling to accept the destruction of the orchards, Paula Shatkin and fellow volunteers at Slow Food Russian River stood up to defend the Gravenstein. In so doing, they defined what it means to be a co-producer in our food system. They harnessed the power of eaters to support Gravenstein growers and encourage diversity in the landscape and on our plates.
Saving the Gravenstein
Shatkin felt compelled to speak up on behalf of the Gravenstein and its growers because, in her words, “they are iconic here. Because they are such a visible part of our identity and our cultural history. Because our economy has in the past revolved around them. Because they are SO beautiful. And because we have to fight to preserve biodiversity.”
Shortly after Shatkin moved to Sebastapol, she attended a Slow Food Russian River meeting and proposed that they take action to save the Gravenstein. In empowering Slow Food chapter leader fashion, the leaders replied, “Why don’t you?” And she did.