What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, May 31, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA officially endorses the Nourish 9 Billion campaign and encourages you to sign on as well
Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Business as usual is not an option.” This is the main assertion of The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Education and Science Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environmental Organization (UNEP), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the World Bank.
“Business” in this case is industrial farming and the current global food system. This blunt claim came as a result of a 4 year assessment involving 400 scientists around the world who came to the conclusion that nations must embrace agroecologoy (the science of sustainable agriculture) in order to survive in an ever growing-every changing world. Since the report was relased, 59 countries have endorsed the report (the U.S. has not), but none have been able to follow through on their promises to improve their countries sustainable farming practices.
Posted on Tue, May 29, 2012 by Slow Food USA
How Slow Food grew from a sparsely attended student group to the center of all things food-related on the University of Rhode Island campus.
Written by Deirdra Stockmann, formerly of Slow Food Huron Valley (MI)
What does it take to grow a small Slow Food on Campus chapter into the go-to organization for all things local food-related at the university? In the case of Slow Food University of Rhode Island, it takes dedicated, energetic student leaders who make the most of partnership opportunities, and who know the way to college students’ hearts: really good street food.
Alyssa Neill is passionate about food. As a teenager, she kept a garden and chickens in her backyard and worked at a health food store in her hometown. A rising college junior and nutrition and dietetics major, Neill hopes to put food at the center of her career. “I believe that food is medicine,” she said in a recent interview squeezed in between final exams and term papers. Through her work, she wants to help others celebrate the pleasure and healing powers of good food.
When Neill enrolled at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 2010, she was thrilled to learn that the campus had a Slow Food chapter. She was familiar with Slow Food’s mission and eager to join the movement. But upon arriving at a Slow Food URI meeting, she was disappointed to find it a small organization with low visibility on campus. The few events they planned each semester were sparsely attended.
Neill continued to attend the meetings. Soon, she was planning them. Today, she is the president of the chapter. Over the last two years, Neill and a growing group of Slow Food URI leaders have worked to raise awareness and enthusiasm for local and sustainable food across campus. “This year has been really exciting as people start to recognize who Slow Food is, we’ve gotten a good response from the whole campus community. People email and ask about how they can get involved.” This spring, the faculty coordinators of a high profile honors colloquium on campus approached Slow Food URI about partnering on a weekly series of events in the coming fall.
How did this transformation come about in a couple of years? The student group started a garden on campus where they host occasional grilled pizza parties and they organize a food and sustainability film series. These events attract a few dozen participants each. But one event in the fall of 2011 catapulted Slow Food URI to a new level of campus visibility.
The big break came with the opportunity, and the responsibility, to organize a one-day local food fair as part of a “sustainability module” based on the book No Impact Man. The book, written by Colin Beavan, was selected as the “common reading” assignment for first year students. In conjunction with the book, an interdisciplinary committee of students, faculty and staff planned seven weeks of films, lectures, tours and fairs for students to further explore many dimensions of environmentally sustainable living. (The schedule of URI sustainability events is here.)
Slow Food URI organized the local food fair during Local Food and Agriculture Awareness week. Neill sent out dozens of emails and visited area farmers markets to recruit vendors to the local food fair. It took a lot of time and a lot of patience. Only a handful of vendors were willing to take the risk and time to do a one-day, first time event. Tallulah’s “farm to taco” mobile cart and Bravo Wood Fired Pizza anchored the food fair. Both vendors feature vegetables, meat and dairy from Rhode Island farmers and artisans. Their enthusiasm, willingness to work with students, and delicious food made the event a hit.
Word traveled fast around campus about the delicious tacos and baked-on-site pizza available on the Quad. In a few hours, the vendors sold out. “We saw food do exactly what it is supposed to do, create community and awareness,” Neill said, noting that the enthusiastic response of the students was her favorite part of the event. Bringing local food to campus in well-prepared, ready-to-eat form was just the way to lure students, many of whom don’t have cooking facilities or refrigerators in their dorm rooms.
The fair was such a success, that the Slow Food URI leaders were encouraged to establish a more regular local food market on campus. This past spring, they organized several events featuring the popular taco, pizza and coffee vendors, as well as a few farmers selling fresh microgreens and mushrooms. The produce offerings attracted more staff and faculty to the market. One professor requested that the event become weekly so he could do most of his produce shopping there. Through the market, Neill said, “we’re introducing students to the local food movement, whereas with the staff, we’re encouraging a behavior that they already do or would like to do.” The market has begun to attract the off-campus community as well. One day, a local elementary school made a field trip out of it; 100 kids enjoyed their picnic lunches on the URI Quad while college students lined up for tacos and pizza.
Many more farmers will sell a wider variety of fresh produce at Slow Food URI markets this fall. The group will coordinate the markets with the honors colloquium, a weekly public lecture series. This year’s colloquium theme is Health Care Change? Health, Politics and Money. “We wanted the Farmer’s Markets to be held on the same day as the Colloquium to extend the themes into the entire day. We are hoping that some of the vendors from the Market will supply us with healthy refreshments for the evening instead of the usual cookies,” nursing professor Mary Cloud said.
The partnership with the colloquium will help address one of the main challenges Slow Food URI faced this year: publicity. Organizing farmers markets is a lot of work, especially on top of full-time student responsibilities, and the small organization found it difficult to get the word out about the markets on campus let alone in the surrounding residential community. In exchange for the Slow Food chapter organizing markets on lecture nights, the honors colloquium will include the markets in their broad public promotion.
Working with the Slow Food URI farmers market has helped Alyssa Neill think about life after college:
“I have always been interested in nutrition, but I guess my idea of what nutrition is has definitely morphed as far as the time I have put into the markets and watching people eat and watching people react to different kinds of foods. … Watching people come together around local food has inspired me to want to study a holistic diet and food cultures.”
As a Slow Food USA chapter, Slow Food University of Rhode Island provides opportunities for neighbors and citizens to build community through enjoyment of and dialogue about our food system and culture. As a Slow Food on Campus chapter, the URI group goes beyond, it creates transformative opportunities for young leaders to shape their future, and ours.
Posted on Fri, May 25, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Founder and President of the International Slow Food Movement, Carlo Petrini, paid the Slow Food USA office a visit and took time to answer your questions from Facebook.
Recently, upon learning that Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini would be coming by the Slow Food USA office, we asked our Facebook community what they would ask Carlo if they had the chance. As usual, you responded with some real gems and we put Carlo on the hot seat with a few of our favorites. We have transcribed his answers below, but if you would like to hear more from Mr. Petrini, check out the speech he gave to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (the main reason he was with us in New York City). It was the first time the Forum had invited an outside speaker to address the floor, quite an honor for everyone involved in the Slow Food Movement. But back to your questions and Carlo’s answers. We’ve listed a few below, but we still want to hear from you, let us know what you think in the comment’s section below.
Posted on Tue, May 22, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The Slow Food USA community recently spent some quality time in Louisville, KY, a food-savvy city with many organizations, businesses, and advocates to highlight. Today we high light one such organization—Louisville Farm to Table.
Written by Sarah Fritschner, Coordinator of Louisville Farm to Table
When Slow Food USA chose Louisville as its 2012 National Congress location, ears perked and anxiety rose. We in Louisville consider ourselves a food-savvy city, with a high proportion of independently-owned restaurants, a culinary school, a variety food-oriented non-profits including Slow Food, and our own municipal Food Policy Advisor. We wanted everyone from Slow Food across the country to know our commitment to local, good and accessible food.
Time constraints make it impossible to know everything, of course, but I wanted to expand a bit on Slow Food member, Kim Bayer’s recent comments on AnnArbor.com about Louisville’s approach to food strategy.
Bayer mentioned the report that summarized Louisville’s $3 billion food market. One program that has come from that report is Louisville Farm to Table, which works to bring Kentucky food into the lucrative city marketplace while it works to raise the capacity of Kentucky farmers.
Posted on Fri, May 18, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Want to impact the food system? You can! The House Agriculture Committee is accepting comments until May 20th. Learn more…
If you could radically change the food we grow and eat in this country, would you? Would you ensure all children, elders, and adults had enough nutritious food to eat? Would you make it easier for young people, women, and folks of color to start their own small farms? Would you stop funding the devastating mess created by factory farming?
Well, you can.
Posted on Mon, May 14, 2012 by Slow Food USA
For the first time, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will have a guest speaker address its members—Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini.
Slow Food President Carlo Petrini will address the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) today, during the half-day session on the right to food and food sovereignty. His invitation to join the New York meeting at the UN headquarters, as a valued “friend and supporter of Indigenous Peoples”, marks the first time in the ten-year history of the Forum that an external guest has been invited to take the floor.
Petrini will be joined in the discussion by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, and representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization and Indigenous and governmental groups. Previously the Forum was only open to Indigenous, governmental or UN representatives.
Posted on Fri, May 11, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Thanks, in part to the efforts of Slow Food Western Slope, 22 parcels of land that was up for oil and gas sale in the North Fork Valley region has now been deferred.
Back in March, we told you about the efforts of the Slow Food Western Slope & Rocky Mountain region chapters to defend the North Fork Valley, 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. The Valley, they said, was “under attack” due to an announcement that 22 parcels of land (over 30,000 acres) would be up for oil and gas sales. They went on to explain how this would directly affect over 70 winemakers, farmers, orchardists, ranchers and agricultural businesses in North Fork Valley who depend on good and clean water, air and soil for their businesses.
We are happy to report that the agency overseeing the sale, the Bureau of Land Management, thanks, in part, to the of comments submitted by Slow Food members across the Rocky Mountain region, has decided to defer all sales in the region. This is a major win for Slow Food Western Slope and the region at large, but this story is certainly not over. To learn more, see the BLM Press release below:
Posted on Wed, May 09, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Peggy Markel reflects on her years of connecting food, culture, people and travel with the principles of Slow Food.
I first encountered Slow Food in the small Village of Scansano, in southern Tuscany, on a crisp spring day in 1993 with the countryside painted pink in olive tree blossoms. My friend Janet Hansen, an American who had lived in Italy for 30 years, had just finished surveying her olive trees and harvesting a few artichokes for lunch when I pulled up. I knew my way around Tuscany well at this point, perfecting my Italian enough to ask questions and understand the answers. I’d witnessed my own culinary travel program in the hills outside of Florence flourish that year. I’d met farmers who made fresh pecorino (100% sheeps milk cheese) with an old stirring stick, forming it into straw basket molds. I’d seen firsthand the curious relationship between farmer and animal, and the affection with which a small enough farm treats the flock. Tillo could just call his sheep back to the barn in the evenings, no dog necessary. To fatten the pigs with something hearty, Signor Valentini fed them chestnuts.
Italy remains a place of preserved traditions, especially with Carlo Petrini and his friends bringing attention to the importance of protecting these old ways. In the last twenty years, I have noticed the terrible beauty of transition from the traditional to the contemporary. Cars now fill ancient piazzas with exhaust and noise. Urban sprawl has forced farmland to become scarce. We make room for commerce, shipping food from large agro farms and forfeiting the possibility of growing our own. We work too hard, eat on the run and complain to our doctors that we don’t feel well. Families break down. There is also this painful truth.
Posted on Thu, May 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Real Time Farms Food Warrior, Lauren, explores biodynamic farming in her community.
Written by Lauren Telfer, Real Time Farms Food Warrior
On my weekly trips to the grocery store I transform into an avid food inspector for a short period of time: I look for different certifications, growing practices, and any other pertinent information about my food. I am on a constant quest for food that is not only nourishing for my body but also for the earth. Until recently, I thought that organic farming practices was the be-all and end-all answer to this quest; on a recent enlightening (and very rainy) trip to the Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market in downtown Berkeley, I was informed that this is not the case. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about biodynamic farming – a practice that actually surpasses organic farming in sustainability and environmental awareness.
I was first introduced to biodynamic farming at this farmers market through a vendor from Flying Disc Ranch, a date and citrus farm located in Thermal, California. I inquired about their practices and was surprised when the usual response of “certified organic” didn’t come, instead his reply was, “We are a biodynamic farm.” Biodynamic? This sounded intriguing and innovative, I was immediately captivated and rightfully so.