What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, December 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Farm to School grants will go a long way towards reshaping the interplay between our children, the schools that teach them, and the local farmers that feed us all.
By Eric Himmelfarb
On November 14th, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the first-ever USDA Farm to School grants, which totaled more than $4.5 million for 68 different projects around the country, and will go a long way towards reshaping the interplay between our children, the schools that teach them, and the local farmers that feed us all.
The grant money will be used for projects serving a wide range of functions, including building school gardens, developing new partnerships between school districts and local farmers, and hiring staff to coordinate farm to school programs.
These USDA grants seem to be taking school food policy in a healthier, more sustainable direction, and this is why we should be excited about this as both a statement of policy and a philosophical shift in how the next generation will relate to its food. Add these grants to the new school food guidelines initially established in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and then implemented this school year, and you have a clear shifting of the school food landscape.
When we think about the task of changing the way our food is grown and prepared in a substantive way, it can often seem like a daunting, Sisyphean task. Federal agricultural policies are firmly entrenched, to the point where the Farm Bill has become a 700-page monstrosity that is about a whole lot more than agricultural policy. Stakeholders who enjoy the status quo will defend that status quo at almost any cost (see: the $46 million spent against Prop 37 in California last month). Enormous systemic and political inertia can be hard to overcome.
Yet we can take small steps each day. We can always find ways to begin repairing our society’s relationship to its food. In our younger generation we can plant the seeds for a cultural shift, for a renewal and reinvention of the Slow Food values of good, clean and fair food for all. This unsustainable system was not built in a day, but every day we do not work to repair it is a day lost to inertia. It will take a long series of incremental shifts to put us on a more sustainable path.
Here in New York City, the cultural shift is happening right in front of our eyes in real time. As announced in the New York Times in November, the number of school gardens registered with the city has increased in the last two years from 40 to 232. I was an apprentice at Battery Urban Farm this fall and got to see firsthand the power of kids having their hands in soil and the ways this farm to school connection is much more than a simple exchange of food.
The experience for the kids on the farm is profound, as it gives them a way to connect to the earth that is unusual for city kids; to connect to the source of their continued livelihood; and to understand how the food that ends up on their plate begins its life.
More projects like this one – through the myriad connections to land, self, and community that they can create – will go a long way towards laying the groundwork for a culture of healthier and fairer food.
When I hear 7 year-old kids, on the way to the eggplant beds, excitedly calling out the names of other crops (“carrots!” “basil!”) that they spot along the way, I can’t help but feel that we are off to a good start here in our repair work. The new USDA grants bring us that much closer to the actualization of a healthier, fairer way of growing, preparing, and consuming our food.
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Posted on Wed, November 21, 2012 by Slow Food USA
By Kate Krauss, Slow Food USA
Turkey has always been a Thanksgiving ritual for my clan. We’ve experimented with steaming, frying, salt rubs, and many varieties of stuffing. And in recent years it’s become very important to me that my turkey be raised in a way that nourishes rather than depletes the land and one that is humane both for the turkey and the people who farm it. I purchase heirloom breeds where and when I can.
But I haven’t spent all that much time reflecting on my turkey as a creature that died to grace my Thanksgiving table. I have, however, had many philosophical conversations – both with other people and with myself – about the moral and environmental integrity of eating meat. I’ve chosen to remain an omnivore, though I’ve also worked very hard to ensure the quality and integrity of the meat I consume. In these conversations, I’ve often told people that I feel I should be able to kill the animals I eat – something I’ve never really had the opportunity to do. The conversation often moves toward wondering what that would be like and whether I could actually do it. This past Sunday, I found out.
That’s when my sister, her colleague and I found ourselves at the home of freelance writer Tamar Haspel, who with her husband has been raising animals for meat – as she says, to “love them, kill them and eat them” – and chronicling her experiences at http://www.starvingofftheland.com Here&.#8217;s her own account of the weekend’s events http://starvingofftheland.com/2012/11/our-third-annual-turkey-slaughter/.
For my part, I’ve discovered I can kill (and process) the food I eat, that it doesn’t make me want to be vegetarian, and that I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience such an intimate connection with my food. Sunday wasn’t fun, but it was intimate and even warm and nourishing. I have Tamar and Kevin to thank for that – they could not have been more welcoming and supportive – and also their wonderful circle of friends. We swapped life stories and reflections, first over a delicious meal and then over the shared projects of de-feathering and then gutting and cleaning the turkeys. While I recognize the necessity of larger animal farms and processing facilities (as long as they’re humane), I’m glad I was able to experience a harvest that had such a deep connection to and respect for the turkeys themselves.
I’m not a vegetarian, but I have already found that I am purposefully eating less meat – something that is probably useful for all of us and certainly for our planet. And I am even more committed to knowing the provenance of my animals, and to buying whole birds and consciously using all of them as often as I can.
So – thank you Kevin and Tamar – and to your turkeys – for sharing with me a part of your turkey experiment. I’m a better and more responsible turkey eater as a result.
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Posted on Tue, November 20, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A pepper’s voyage from Apatin 1912 to retail shelves in the US 2012
By M. Lee Greene, Owner, Scrumptious Pantry
Joe Hussli tucked the seeds of his favorite pepper into his garments before he glanced one last time over the land that has been his home. He took his bags and left, towards the new land that seemed to promise a better future in light of the political tensions that were building in Apatin in 1912 (then the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, now Serbia).
Last month – exactly 100 years after Joe left for the new world – the pepper traveled back to Europe, to the Salone del Gusto in Turin. It traveled as an Ark of Taste passenger, as a pickle in the Scrumptious Pantry’s line of heirloom foods: an effort to revive interest in this delicious heirloom varietal and preserve it. A lot has changed in agriculture over the last century, and with the advancement of hybrid varietals, cultivation of the pepper has been pretty much abandoned. What would Joe think of this?
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Posted on Wed, November 07, 2012 by Slow Food USA
As many of you know, the Slow Food USA national office is located in Brooklyn, NY near an area hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We are thankful to those who reached out to us.
As many of you know, the Slow Food USA national office is located in Brooklyn, NY near an area hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We are thankful to those who reached out to us. Our staff and office headquarters are all fine, but the damage to our neighboring communities is palpable.
The human response has been inspiring in our area. People have opened their homes to those in need of lodging and community groups have been organizing to deliver food, clothing and resources to those who need it most. Still, there is more to do and far too many people will be displaced for months to come.
Below is a list of resources we hope is helpful to have in one place. If you have additional suggestions, please post in the comment thread for others to see.
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Posted on Thu, November 01, 2012 by Tim Smith
The Food Movement has inspired college students to take action on their own campuses!
Written by Katelyn Montalvo, Slow Food USA intern
The Food Movement has inspired college students to take action on their own campuses!
Posted on Fri, October 19, 2012 by Slow Food USA
7 US delegates tell us about their hopes for Terra Madre and International Congress 2012
Slow Food seeks to help us connect to the story behind our food –its cultural and historical context, the politics of its production, and the diversity of our ecosystems and communities. As 2000 delegates from 130 countries prepare to attend Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre and the International Congress in Torino, Italy from October 25th to October 29th, we thought we’d check in with some of our delegates to hear what’s on their minds. The delegates we interviewed, like so many others who will be at the global gathering, are the everyday food movement leaders who are “feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way”, this year’s theme for Terra Madre.
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Slow Food Connection:Mid-Atlantic Regional Governor, farmer (Ark of Taste)
Hometown: Savannah, GA
Slow Food Connection:Slow Food Savannah Board of Directors
Lauren Lin Howe
Hometown: Easthampton, MA
Slow Food Connection:Co-Founder and Co-Leader of Slow Food Hamilton College
Hometown: San Francisco, but has resided in Oakland, CA for 8 years
Slow Food Connection:My connection to Slow Food is in the work that I do and my colleagues. I work for Oakland Food Policy Council where we work to establish an equitable and sustainable food system. Personally I believe one of the most powerful ways to affect food choice is to awaken, explore and practice one’s food heritage. I appreciate the message of Slow Food yet also see an opportunity to bridge the dialogue of food injustice to the message of sustainability.
Age: I am 63 years old but I represent 2 million years of human evolution, 4.5 billion years of Earth evolution and 14 billion years of Universe evolution…so I am as old as dirt!
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Slow Food Connection:I have been a member of Slow Food Bluegrass since 2008, a Terra Madre delegate in 2008 and 2010, delegate to the International Congress in 2012, supported hosting the Slow Food USA National Congress in Louisville, KY this past April, and speak about Slow Food in some 40 talks each year.
Vince Vang Lee Xiong
Hometown: Plymouth, MN
Slow Food Connection: Minnesota Food Association (a friend of Slow Food Twin Cities), farmer
Hometown: East Coast of the United States (NJ, NC, and VA)
Slow Food Connection:SAAFON, SoGreen Network, Slow Food Atlanta, and I want to start a campus Slow Food chapter at Spelman College
Posted on Mon, October 15, 2012 by Nathan Leamy
SAAFON (Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network) will host this historic meeting of African and African American farmers at Terra Madre.
SAAFON (Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network) will host this historic meeting of African and African American farmers at Terra Madre. Never before has a Black grassroots organization had the opportunity to connect to the African diaspora and African Farmers on the Terra Madre global platform.
This global meeting will unite farmers of African descent for a discussion on food access; climate change and its impact on farmer’s ability to grow, deforestation, and the importance of maintaining seeds and ancient African growing techniques that continue to thrive in the 21st Century.
Read below about two delegates to Terra Madre from SAAFON!
Posted on Fri, October 12, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Learn about Slow Food Vermont’s unique form of governance.
By Deirdra Stockmann, Slow Food USA volunteer
For many of us, mention of Vermont fills our mind with nostalgic visions of verdant hills dotted with small farms and sugarbushes and populated by cheesemakers and seedsavers. Of course, there is much more to Vermont than fall colors, maple syrup and artisanal cheese. But according to the chapter leaders I talked to, most of whom are also farmers or chefs, Vermont’s food culture and identity has only been growing stronger in recent years. This is great news for the state, and for Slow Food Vermont. The only trouble is that movement is so pervasive that it is hardly possible for the chapter to connect with all of the passionate growers, producers and eaters who want to be a part of it. Hardly possible. Over the last year, the Vermont chapter found a way to empower leaders, build networks, and expand its reach
Leaders in Vermont agree that the slow food philosophy, the commitment to growing and supporting local food traditions and economies, runs deep in the veins of many Vermonters. There is a lot of interest in Slow Food Vermont’s full calendar of classes, tastings and potlucks. But over the last few years, local leaders became increasingly aware of a major barrier to engaging with current and potential members and friends of Slow Food in Vermont: geography.
Slow Food Vermont is based in Burlington, which makes sense because it is the state’s largest city (pop. 42,417). About one in three Vermonters lives in the greater Burlington area as do 60 percent of the Slow Food Vermont members. There is a strong critical mass of active members who help plan and participate in the chapter’s many activities. And yet, two thirds of the Vermont population, and 40 percent of chapter members are spread throughout the state’s many other small cities and towns and in every hill and valley.
Posted on Thu, October 11, 2012 by Nathan Leamy
Food Day, a nationwide celebration and movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food, is around the corner.
Food Day, a nationwide celebration and movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food, is around the corner. Food Day is October 24 every year, and is driven by a diverse coalition of national organizations and food movement leaders, including Slow Food USA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Farmers Market Coalition, and many others.
Posted on Fri, October 05, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food leaders from Maine describe the unique partnership that has made Maine what it is today, a Slow Food mecca for chefs, growers/producers, farmers, and anyone who loves good food.
Written by Michael Sanders, co-founder of Portland, ME’s Slow Food chapter
People “from away”—out-of-staters—often ask me, What’s up with Maine? How has such a cold and far away place grown such a vibrant food scene replete with farmers, fishermen, crazy-mad chefs and their restaurants, and farmers’ markets?
The answer is not so simple. First, Maine is a land of surprises. It has a coastline longer than England’s, more organic farms per capita than California, and a terrifyingly short growing season of just 125 precious frost-free days. Making the most of what we can wrest from the soil or fish from the sea or forage from the woods, this is what Mainers have always done, a rich tradition that, today, feeds the state’s vibrant and ever-evolving food scene, from our farmers’ market to our dinner and restaurant tables.