What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, June 22, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The Senate has passed their version of the Food and Farm Bill, so who won?
Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Last week, Washington became the food capital of the country as the Senate debated the 2012 Food and Farm Bill, culminating in the passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 yesterday afternoon. Like most people in the country, your next thought most likely is: what does this mean for me?
Well, it means that we are one step closer to approval of the single biggest piece of legislation that governs what we grow and eat in this country, and how it is distributed. It is a 5-year, $969 billion bill that touches every single person’s life in this country. Every farmer, parent, cook, eater, student, and activist is impacted by the policies the Bill addresses and we only have one chance every five years to influence it. Now that the Senate has passed their version, it is up to the House of Representatives to pass their own version before the bill can officially become law.
Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, you’re probably wondering: is the Senate Bill a good thing or a bad thing? Well, I guess that depends on what you’re priorities are. Back in March, Slow Food USA sent a letter to the leaders of both the Senate and House Agriculture committees outlining our priorities and asked for a good, clean, and fair Food and Farm Bill. You can read the letter here for more specifics, but we basically boiled it down to three key points:
Posted on Tue, June 19, 2012 by Slow Food USA
How escaping the supermarket and finding a more pure form of beef transformed a non-meat eater into a beef conisior
Written by Lynne Curry, co-chair Slow Food Wallowas and author of the new cookbook Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut
In 2001, I moved from Seattle to the remote Wallowa Valley in eastern Oregon. I was drawn to the lifestyle of a small town mixed with artists, self-starters and ranchers and easy access to the wilderness. Cows and their newborn calves populated the landscape that spring, but I didn’t give them a second thought.
At the time, I didn’t even eat meat, and I certainly never expected to devote over two years to researching and writing about beef. Back then, beef was beef was beef. In the supermarket, all of it came from a single, centralized commodity supply chain controlled by four corporations.
In 11 years, beef has diversified into many niche markets—natural, organic and grassfed. Across the country, high-end restaurants now feature grassfed steaks, grocery chains sell a variety of natural and organic brands, and we all have more decisions to make at the meat counter.
Posted on Wed, June 13, 2012 by Slow Food USA
For the first time, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre will be held at a joint even and will be open to the public.
The programme of the 2012 edition of the international Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre world meeting of food communities has been released, giving comprehensive information about the event that, from October 25-29 in Turin, Italy, will display the extraordinary diversity of food from all continents and unite small-scale farmers and artisans from around the world who follow the principles of good, clean and fair.
Posted on Mon, June 11, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Dan Imhoff & Michael Dimock argue that after 80 years, the time has come to rescue agriculture from the farm bill — and to improve the health of Americans in the bargain.
Written by Dan Imhoff, author of Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill and Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change and chairman emeritus of Slow Food USA
This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times
In 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the very first farm bill, formally called the Agricultural Adjustment Act, he told the nation that “an unprecedented condition calls for the trial of new means to rescue agriculture.” That legislation, passed as the country struggled to emerge from the Depression, was visionary in the way it employed agricultural policy to address significant national issues, including rural poverty and hunger.
It may not seem obvious while standing in the aisles of a modern grocery store, but the country today faces another food and farming crisis. Forty-six million people — that is, 1 out of 7 Americans — signed up for food stamps in 2012. Despite some of the highest commodity prices in history, the nation’s rural regions are falling deeper into poverty. In 2010, according to theU.S. Department of Agriculture, 17.8% of those living in rural counties fell under the poverty line. Unemployment in Fresno County, the nation’s top agricultural producing county, stood at 17.4% in March of this year. Industrial agriculture has become a leading cause of soil and water pollution. In California, for example, fertilizer and manure pollution have so contaminated the Salinas and lower San Joaquin valleys that the groundwater will be undrinkable for the next 30 to 50 years.
After 80 years, the time has come to rescue agriculture from the farm bill — and to improve the health of Americans in the bargain.
Posted on Thu, June 07, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Fish, Slow Food’s campaign for sustainable fish on how to get the catch of the day every day.
Written by Slow Food International
The fresher the fish, the better, for taste and health.
Unfortunately, labels are not particularly helpful. For example, in the European Union it is not currently required to indicate the catch date, though the possibility of making it obligatory is being discussed by the European Commission. For now, how could the European consumer know that the fillet of Nile perch sold as fresh was actually caught in Central Africa 12-16 days earlier? How many people are aware that many fish species from Asia are sold in Europe and North America as fresh, even though they may have been frozen and defrosted more than once?
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.