What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Sat, July 28, 2012 by Slow Food USA
What do “The Central Role of Food”, Slow Money, and “The Food Dialogues” have in common? Stephanie Georgieff went to Los Angeles to find out.
Written by Stephanie Georgieff, President and Co Founder of Slow Food Redlands, California
I was recently invited to attend an event hosted by the newly formed US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance(USFRA) entitled “The Food Dialogues”. As I made my way down to Los Angeles, where the event was being held, I could help but think of the dialogues that I had recently had within my Slow Food Chapter during our monthly book discussion group. The topic of discussion we chose was Slow Money by Woody Tasch, a passionate plea for reorienting the economy in terms of what is good for food, farms and fertility. This, coupled with the release of a document from Carlo Petrini and Slow Food International entitled “The Central Role of Food,” which was recently sent to Slow Food leaders from around the globe and is designed to promote a major world debate outside and inside the Slow Food and Terra Madre network ahead of the World Congress on October 27 – 29, 2012. These topics, along with the massive event I was about to attend, had me thinking, more than ever, about the role food plays in every aspect of our lives.
Our hosts for the event, USFRA is an alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent famer and rancher led organizations and agricultural partners. “The Food Dialogues” was their second attempt to intersect with popular culture to create awareness around how our food is produced. To their credit, the four panels were populated with representatives from the full spectrum of food interests. Small organic farmers, growers for large corporations, representatives from major food interests, scientists, members of the media and non profits were live streamed in webinar format to anyone who desired to participate. I met representatives from the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the National Pork Board.
Posted on Wed, July 25, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A plot of land for $1?! A small investment by Chicago’s Growing home has been transformed into a full-scale organic urban farm & helped transform the neighborhood as well.
Written by Michelle Stearn, Real Time Farms Food Warrior
What can you buy with a dollar? An apple, a small fry from McDonald’s, 4 gumballs, a Coke, or… a plot of land fit to bloom into a revolutionary urban farm on Chicago’s South Side. Yep, it’s true. Six years ago, the City of Chicago sold the 2/3 acre plot in Englewood to Growing Home for one measly buck. And now, not only has the land transformed into a full-scale organic farm, but it has helped transform the neighborhood as well. Their mission is to utilize organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development. In other words, they are uplifting Chicago’s neighborhoods, one vegetable at a time. All of this is made possible with the hard work of interns seeking transitional employment – many of whom had troubles finding a job, sometimes due to former incarceration, a history of homelessness or substance abuse, or even simply a lack of education.
You might be thinking… This will never work. How will the harvest ever get picked? Those people are not trained in gardening – they have no experience as farmers. Well, consider this: in 2010, Growing Home’s Wood St. Urban Farm (the one I visited) grew and sold over 11,000 pounds of organic produce and brought in over $45,000 as income for the interns! They sell CSA Shares to community members, have a weekly market on Wood St., market their goods at Green City Market, and even sell their goods to Chicago restaurants like Big Bowl. If that’s enough to change your mind about the effectiveness of the program, you can stop reading now. But you probably shouldn’t, because there are so many other things that Growing Home is doing to help the community, it’s mind-boggling.
Posted on Sat, July 21, 2012 by Slow Food USA
From $500 grills to 100 year old fish boils, the tradition of outdoor cooking survives as a summer staple in the U.S.
Written by Slow Food USA Associate Director of National Programs, Angelines M. Alba Lamb
If you ever find yourself driving up the Bronx River Parkway in New York City on a weekend evening after 6pm, try to make a detour off the 233rd Street exit. If you eat meat, I promise you won’t be disappointed. A crew of Trinidadian men set-up two smokers and a variety of grills and cook jerked chicken, pork, beef, and fish until dawn, relying on the after-party crowd to flood the block despite the early hour. The food is deceptively simple and delicious. Relying on family recipes and pure instinct for flavor these men carry on a tradition that spans all if not most cultures, ethnicities, nations, and families: cooking outdoors.
Outdoor cooking is most celebrated here in the U.S, during the summer. We’re encouraged to buy grills for our fathers on Father’s Day, are accosted by displays of hot dog and hamburger buns every time we enter a grocery store, and doesn’t it seem like every national holiday or birthday is celebrated with a BBQ? But there is more to outdoor cooking than just barbecue and $500 grills.
Posted on Tue, July 17, 2012 by Slow Food USA
We’ve teamed up with Daniel Klein and the folks over at Perennial Plate to deliver monthly video stories, our first dispatch features highlights from An American Food (Road)Trip.
Nearly two-and-half years ago, Daniel Klein and his colleague Mirra Fine over at Perennial Plate set out to tell the stories of real food in the United States. In their first two seasons, they filmed several terabytes of coverage and more than 100 episodes in nearly every state. This season, they will embark on a bold new journey—telling the story of food culture internationally! Beginning this month, we’ll by teaming up with Perennial Plate, as a video content partner, for a regular monthly feature here on the Slow Food USA blog, lifting up new and interesting food stories told through video. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking back at some of our combined highlights. So without further ado, here’s one of their season recaps. And don’t forget to tune in next month for more fun from the road!
Posted on Fri, July 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Good and Clean becomes more Fair for everyone
Written by Janette Wesley, Slow Food Upstate Chapter Leader
After a long and detailed application process with completion of a required training session, the Slow Food Upstate Board who manages the Earth Market Greenville, celebrates the approved EBT status in June of 2012 and will be able to accept EBT or SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, as payment for food products, (also plants and seeds that bear food), an essential part of the goals in the philosophy of “Good, Clean and Fair” food.
E.B.T.-Electronic Benefits Transfer, the newer version of food stamps, is an electronic system in the United States funded by the Federal Government, which allows government’s states benefits departments to issue money, accessible via a plastic debit card or a paper voucher in exchange for food or seeds and plants which produce food.
Posted on Tue, July 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Philadelphia’s collaboration luncheons bring local organizations together over a meal to meet, greet, and discuss ways to work together towards common goals.
Written By Deirdra Stockmann, former leader of Slow Food Huron Valley
In April 2012, Slow Food Philadelphia convened its second Collaboration Luncheon. This fall, they’ll host a third. The goal of these meetings is to bring leaders of Philadelphia area food movement organizations together in an informal, conversational atmosphere (with food, of course!) to meet, greet, and find ways to work together and advance shared goals. By hosting these events, Slow Food Philly is playing a vital convening and connecting role in an active, but not always coordinated, food activism landscape.
Philadelphia has long been a hub of the good food movement. Chefs, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, community members, and urban farmers have been hard at work for decades simultaneously honoring Philly’s food traditions and pushing the city forward through innovations in urban agriculture, fresh food access and food policy. Philadelphia is renowned for its markets, artisanal food products, farm-to-table restaurants, and microbreweries. And the city is home to dozens of organizations known regionally and nationally for their work on hunger, food justice, sustainable agriculture, community gardening and food policy.
But the busy leaders of these groups rarely have the time to meet, catch up on the latest activities and welcome newcomers to the lively scene. Slow Food Philadelphia decided to devote some of its resources to creating the time and space for this to happen.
“When we put this together, we had an idea, it was purely an idea, not a plan,” said Joe Brandolo, Slow Food Philadelphia president. The idea was to bring representatives of likeminded organizations who may not know each other and sometimes feel like they compete with each other, together to talk about how they can help one another. The plan was simply to get the right people in the room and then let the meeting develop organically. Brandolo provided light direction to the group, but the focus was on participants talking with each other. “Joe is a very good convener and a very good sharer of information,” said Bob Pierson, president of Farm to City, an organization that has been bringing regionally grown produce into the city through markets, CSAs and buying clubs since 1996.
In preparation for the first meeting, Brandolo asked participants to identify an area of need in their organization where they could benefit from collaboration with another group. At the meeting, participants had five minutes to talk about their organization, what they are currently working on and how they would like to connect with others. The first couple of presentations, Brandolo recalled, were a little awkward as the group was getting a sense of the tenor of the gathering. But it quickly became a dynamic and animated conversation, with people connecting on common interests and commitments to change in the regional food system.
After the introduction round, attendees paired with someone in the room with whom they wanted to talk further. Some pairs chatted about opportunities to work together. Some used the time to catch up with old friends and colleagues. Afterwards, conversations continued over lunch. Slow Food Philadelphia provided the meal, using funds they raised through a monthly speaker series. Brandolo’s company donated wine. The first luncheon was hosted at the Inn at Penn, the second at The Restaurant School. The next will be held in partnership with Les Dames Escoffier Society of Philadelphia and their Green Tables initiative.
Participants felt that the relaxed, conversational feel of the meetings was a key part of their success. “It is always difficult to get all the local food movement people in one room where they can kind of relax and walk away for an hour or two from their very busy pace and know they are with likeminded people. It is very comforting,” Pierson recalled. Carey Morgan, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, compared the meetings to other, more formal regional food groups she is a part of: “the Slow Food [Luncheons] are more productive. When you go to the Slow Food event, you know you can have conversations and build relationships.”
When Morgan started as the director of the Coalition, she felt the hunger movement was disconnected from the sustainable agriculture movement despite how interconnected the issues are. She sees the Luncheons as one important way to link different aspects of the food movement together. “The lunches are great for education for both sides to see what is going on and how we can build a bigger movement that touches all of these issues,” Morgan said. She attended the events after getting to know Brandolo a few years earlier when their offices became neighbors. As a result, she connected with organizations she may not have met otherwise. For instance, the Coalition plans to partner with some groups on community gardens that will supply food pantries in the city.
One thing that made Slow Food Philadelphia an effective convener and facilitator was that it wasn’t trying to push its own “agenda” beyond promoting connections and building the movement. “We don’t really have a dog in the fight, we have everybody’s dog in this fight,” Brandolo noted. The chapter sees itself as the “glue” of the movement and serves as a “mouthpiece” by promoting the events and fundraising activities of all of its partners through Facebook and its large email list.
For Morgan and others, inclusivity was another essential component of the success of the Collaboration Luncheons. “We are at a time when none of us can afford to be working against each other especially with the Farm Bill coming up,” she emphasized. As the Slow Food Philadelphia website states and the Collaboration Luncheons show, “collaboration makes us stronger.”
Learn more about some of the organizations that have participated in the luncheons here: www.slowfoodphilly.org/organizations/