What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
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.
Posted on Mon, February 27, 2012 by Slow Food USA
February 27th is Occupy Our Food Supply day of action. Dr. Vandana Shiva discusses why this day is important and why the “corporate takeover of the food system” will have “irreversible consequences” for all people.
Written by Dr Vandana Shiva, NAVDANYA
Today, Feb. 27, is an Occupy Our Food Supply day of action, a movement focussed on resisting the corporate control of food systems. Dr. Shiva has been one of the main supporters and voices in this movement.
The biggest corporate takeover on the planet is the hijacking of the food system, the cost of which has had huge and irreversible consequences for the Earth and people everywhere.
From the seed to the farm to the store to your table, corporations are seeking total control over biodiversity, land, and water. They are seeking control over how food is grown, processed, and distributed. And in seeking this total control, they are destroying the Earth’s ecological processes, our farmers, our health, and our freedoms.
It starts with seeds. Monsanto and a few other gene giants are trying to control and own the world’s seeds through genetic engineering and patents. Monsanto wrote the World Trade Organization treaty on Intellectual Property, which forces countries to patent seeds. As a Monsanto representative once said: “In drafting these agreements, we were the patient, diagnostician [and] physician all in one.”
They defined a problem, and for these corporate profiteers the problem was that farmers save seeds, making it difficult for them to continue wringing profits out of those farmers. So they offered a solution, and their solution was that seeds should be redefined as intellectual property, hence seed saving becomes theft and seed sharing is criminalized. I believe that saving seeds and protecting biodiversity is our ecological and ethical duty. That is why I started Navdanya 25 years ago.
Posted on Thu, February 16, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Armed with a little know-how and a $20 grocery budget, is it possible to think outside of the box meal?
Written by Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
When I finished the undercover reporting for my first book, The American Way of Eating, a couple of years ago I found myself with an unexpected problem. The first round of reporting was done, as was my modest advance, but the writing and secondary reporting remained. I was stuck: As low as my wages had been picking garlic in California fields, stocking Walmart produce bins outside of Detroit, and portioning sides in an Applebee’s kitchen in New York, there had been, at least, wages. Now I had a few thousand dollars in savings and a year’s worth of work to do; money, and my grocery budget, was going to be tight.
What this meant was a creative reengagement with the idea of what it means to be broke in America, and what it might mean for my meals. One of the things that saved me was a childhood favorite: Hamburger Helper.
I know what you’re thinking: Hamburger Helper? A box meal? But allow me to make my case: One-dish meals have long been the go-to food for cooks working with limited time and money. Think chicken and dumplings, any kind of stew, and even America’s great casseroles. And while today we might startle in surprise at meal based on a flavor packet, the concept it represents—eat well, quickly, and affordably—is something I wholly endorse. So I posed myself challenge: Could I beat the box? Could I, as a cook of some skill if not wealth, make a quality meal as quickly, and more cheaply, than a box of Hamburger Helper?
Posted on Tue, February 14, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A few bottom-of-the-barrel shallots and an act of kindness gives birth to a new sense of community.
Written by Jenny Best, Slow Food USA Chief of Staff
A couple weeks ago, I overslept and didn’t make it to my Saturday farmers market until well into the afternoon. And, as any regular market shopper will tell you, there’s slim pickins so late in the day. Which I knew. But if you are like me, not going to the market at all is akin to skipping coffee when you normally have it – you’ll be in a grumpy mood, and likely have a headache all day.
Many of the farmers were already packing up their trucks when I arrived at the market, getting ready for their trek back upstate. In fact, only a few stands remained. Stray root vegetables lingered, rejected from earlier buyers.
Feeling a bit silly with my big (and empty) woven basket bag, I walked up to the Bradley farmstand to see if anything was left. As I suspected, not much in sight. A few rutabegas, an onion or two. I approached Mr. Bradley – who had once jeered me out of his stand for wearing a t-shirt sporting the logo of a trendy pickle maker (Mr. Bradley sells his own pickles and swears they’re better) – and I asked him if he had any shallots left.
Posted on Fri, February 10, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Yoko Sudo, the Fukushima convivium leader, despite an earthquake and tsunami devastating her country, led the charge for “a new vision of agriculture” at Terra Madre Japan.
written by Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
When the young Fukushima convivium leader finished speaking at the plenary dinner of Terra Madre Japan, held in Unzen last December 2-4, the attendees were visibly moved. Yoko Sudo, who comes from a farming family, has been living a nightmare since the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami hit last March. But she didn’t come to the Terra Madre meeting to ask for help. Her message was very clear: “We will keep fighting for good, clean and fair food and a new vision of agriculture, even though this will mean huge sacrifices and enormous effort for all of us from the devastated area.”
Her speech set the perfect seal on the Terra Madre event, highlighting the vitality of the Slow Food movement in Japan and its most critical issues. Over three days, producers from the slow network across the country came together to participate in meetings and present their products in a public fair, with the Japanese Ark of Taste products presented in a special display of wooden panels designed by the renowned designer Kosei Shirotani.
All the producers participated not only to sell their goods, but to collectively send a message to the media, authorities and consumers that environmental disasters do not come from bad luck or chance, but are a direct consequence of a flawed way of managing soil, agriculture, resources, energy and water. The second important part of their message was to show that another path is possible.
Among those showing the diversity of good, clean and fair food production were the remarkable local group of women from the Unzen Takana Vegetable Presidium, led by the legendary Setsue Baba and the Nagasaki convivium leader, Masatoshi Iwasaki, one of Japan’s organic agriculture pioneers.
The general assembly of Slow Food convivium leaders was held simultaneously with Terra Madre Japan and installed a new leadership, headed by the young new president Tsuyoshi Goto. Attendees included Yoko Kurokawa, long-time member and supporter of biodiversity projects; Akihiko Sugawara, convivium leader for Kesennuma, a town destroyed by the tsunami; Yujin Yusa, the general secretary for the Fukushima convivium, home of the damaged nuclear power plant; Katrine Klinken, Dutch convivium leader of Copenhagen Convivium; and Luigi Romani, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Osaka.
We hope that the new leaders will be able to give Slow Food’s ideas and projects the opening and public resonance that they deserve, so that the Japan’s consumers can begin to fully understand the positive implications of good, clean and fair production.
Terra Madre Japan was made possible with the support of the Unzen municipality, the biggest sponsor of the event, represented by Hidetomo Shibata at the event.
Designer Kosei Shirotan – who runs a ceramic school in Unzen that is creating innovative utensils for food and designs new forms of communication - is assisting the development of Slow Food in the Nagasaki area by providing his design services for free.
This blog was originally posted on the Slow Food International website, www.slowfood.com.
Immediately after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, Slow Food began collecting donations through its websites and international network. Visit www.slowfood.com/donate to find out more or make a contribution.