What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
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.
Posted on Fri, April 27, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Looking for a more tangible connection to her food, Lizzy spent a summer Wwoofing in Sonoma County, CA and found a food system based on quality and community.
Written by Slow Food USA Intern Lizzy Ott
In this age of take out containers and fast food chains, the gap between food and consumer has become wider than ever. With hopes of establishing a more tangible connection to my food, I decided that I wanted to volunteer on an organic farm. But how? And where? I typed “volunteer on an organic farm” into Google and found my answer—World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Wwoof for short). Wwoof serves as a platform for connecting organic farmers with volunteers just like me. For $30 members are given access to farms throughout the entire world, ranging from the far reaches of Asia to your next-door neighbor. With over 1,300 farms in the US alone, the possibilities seemed endless and I found the long farm lists insanely daunting. How to narrow down the choices?
Posted on Wed, April 18, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A high school science project becomes a community mission for local food; leads to a cafeteria rooftop greenhouse and the community’s first produce market.
Written by Kate Soto, Slow Food USA member who can also be found at her blog, DomestiKating
Humboldt Park is one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhood areas, just west of trendy Wicker Park. It’s known for its beautiful 207-acre park, as well as its deeply rooted Puerto Rican community. Every June, thousands descend upon California and Division Streets to celebrate the Puerto Rican People’s Parade, where you can buy corn and arepas and any number of delicious foods. Yet, this neighborhood, comprised of a community with strong ties to cuisine, is considered a food desert.
The term food desert has been buzzing around Chicago since Mayor Emanuel declared it one of the key issues of his tenure. Approximately 40 percent of the city lives in a ‘food desert’, characterized by a lack of access to fresh, healthy food and grocery stores. These areas happen to occur exclusively in low-income African-American and Latino neighborhoods—like Humboldt Park.
Long before Mayor Emanuel took office, groups had been exploring the implications of food deserts on health and community. In 2006, Mari Gallagher produced a notable report examining their negative impact on public health. Around the same time, Sinai Urban Health Institute did a study that identified Humboldt Park’s obesity rate as considerably higher than the city average: 50 percent of Humboldt Park’s children were found to be obese.
Posted on Fri, April 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The Thousand Gardens in Africa project has already engaged 608 communities in developing sustainable food plots. Through funding from Slow Food’s international network, 561 gardens have been adopted so far.
Written by Slow Food International
In Africa, the local coordinators of the Thousand Gardens project have already engaged 608 communities in developing sustainable food plots. In the rest of the world, Slow Food’s international network has sprung into action to collect the funds and 561 gardens have been adopted so far.
In the lush green highlands of northern Malawi, the Slow Food network has been busy creating 10 sustainable food gardens with schools and communities, assisted by experienced horticulturalist Frederick Msiska. Around the town of Nchenachena, 500 kilometers north of the country’s capital, Msiska is known as “the plant doctor” for his vast knowledge of sustainable agriculture. Together with the Terra Madre learning community in Nchenachena, he’s organizing seminars to teach local farmers how to make bokash (a solid natural fertilizer made from soil, grass, eggshells and paper) and to build rainwater collection tanks for irrigation. Msiska moves tirelessly from one garden to the next, overseeing schoolchildren, teachers and farmers as they cultivate traditional varieties, like those known as ziku, malezi and kamughangi in the local chitumbuka language.
In South Africa, more and more emerging farmers are returning to land that was taken away from black people during apartheid. In a context in which big farms are benefiting from cheap labor, incentives for young people are lacking and access to land is still a burning issue, even a small garden plot can be of great importance. In the wide valleys of the Western and Northern Cape, the Surplus People Project, the organization coordinating the Thousand Gardens in Africa project on a national level, is working with emerging farmers to plant agroecological food gardens that can satisfy the food needs of their families and serve as educational showcases. Farmers in Porterville, a small town north of Cape Town, for example, are cultivating a site to inspire households and schools in the community to plant their own food gardens. “How can we fight poverty? How can we help people be independent of social welfare?” asks Anthony Cloete, the coordinator of the Porterville community garden. “Teach people how to produce seeds and to plant them each new season.”
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.