What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, September 12, 2011 by Intern
Slow Food NYC has gotten its hands dirty in school gardens throughout the city with its Urban Harvest program. This summer they took those organizing skills to South Africa to partner with a local school to build a garden that gets more fresh fruits and veggies into the cafeteria.
by interns Sasha Hippard and Alaena Robbins
Artworks for Youth, a volunteer driven not-for-profit based out of New York City, provides year-long after school art instruction to under-served students across South Africa. Last year, they became interested in starting school gardens due to a necessity they saw when the school district could no longer feed a meal to the children during the day. Instead of just continuing to provide meals to the students, Artworks for Youth approached Slow Food NYC’s chapter leader Sandra McLean to take on a garden project at one of the South African schools. Sandra’s mission was to travel to Joe Slovo primary school, located in the Joe Slovo township, and help develop a school “feeding garden” that would serve both educational as well as practical purposes. With the help of $800 from fundraising and anonymous matching donor, Sandra was able to get to South Africa and collect the supplies needed to get the project started.
Posted on Mon, August 15, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA officially joined several other food & farming organizations in support of the plaintiff farmers in the recently filed lawsuit against Monsanto.
In June we shared an interview with farmer (and Slow Food leader) Tom Willey (click here to read). Tom is one of many plaintiffs in a landmark case against Monsanto.
Monsanto has a history of taking farmers to court if they’re found to be in possession of patented plant material without permission, even if the plant material came to their fields inadvertently. Tired of living in fear of lawsuits that they claim are unjust, a group of farmers, seed savers, and farm advocates is challenging the agribusiness giant’s right to continue the practice.
In solidarity with the plaintiffs, and in collaboration with several other food and farming organizations, Slow Food USA has signed an “amicus brief” that expresses why we feel that patenting of seeds is bad for farmers and bad for farming.
To read the entire brief click here.
Posted on Thu, July 28, 2011 by Intern
The second in a series of slow food recipes and the stories that inspired them. This week young cooks take the spotlight.
by intern Kelsey Wickel
This week’s featured Table Talk contest category is “Young Cook,” where cooks under 25 were encouraged to submit their personal recipes. These young chefs share a common value in creating good food inspired by taste tradition and local flavor and sharing it with friends and family.
Rachel Nichols’ first place-winning pickled heirloom tomato recipe comes from her time working as a Youth Educator in Chester County Pennsylvania CSAs. In her first week of work, the Assistant Director of the Program and local farmer handed her an heirloom tomato seedling. Originally, she claims, “I had no idea what to do with the thing,” but after some experimentation making sauces, salads, and pickles, Rachel settled on her favorite recipe for pickled heirloom tomatoes. “This is the pickled tomato recipe I experimented with after growing my first garden. The heirloom tomatoes I inherited from a young organic farmer were a life changing experience, as I am now working as a full-time cook and nutrition educator.”
2nd and 3rd place winners after the jump
Posted on Wed, July 27, 2011 by Slow Food USA
In California, the most productive and diverse agricultural economy in the country, the lines between the urban and rural are blurring.
by Slow Food Delta Diablo chapter leader Gail Wadsworth
All communities are dynamic. But there are shifts in rural California that are unique among all agricultural states in the US. Recently, I heard Kathleen Merrigan (US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture) speak about the de-population of America’s rural regions and its results including: food insecurity, economic distress and community dissolution. This is the reality for much of rural America. Conversely, the Golden State is experiencing development in rural regions to the point that many, if not most, of our rural counties are no longer classified as “rural” by the federal government.
In the 1970’s there was a quiet revolution taking place in rural California. Non-profit organizations involved in sustainable agriculture envisioned a place where rural and urban communities were allied in the goal of creating an alternative food system. As a result of this movement, people in urban areas are more aware of how their food is produced and they are clamoring for locally grown, organic food. They want to know their farmers. Some want food that is humanely produced while others want food that is “fair.” Glancing at coffee bags in my local grocery, I see shade grown, bird friendly, fair trade, organic and more. It can be confusing.
But the issues facing California’s rural regions may be even more confusing. During a research project, I asked an urban shopper about the landscape between San Francisco and Yosemite. How did she describe this region? She replied, “Oh, it’s just a blank space on the map.” It just so happens that the blank space, as she described it, is one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world. And the very nature of its rural-ness is changing.
Posted on Fri, July 22, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
The grand opening of the first-ever Earth Market in the United States was held yesterday in Greenville, South Carolina.
Slow Food Upstate chapter leader Jan Wesley explained why her chapter chose to start the market. “The Earth Market gives us a way to raise awareness and educate, as folks today are confused by the marketing messages that pass for knowledge.” The market is held one Thursday per month during the growing season.
How are Earth Markets different from traditional farmers’ markets? Slow Food International explains, “Earth Markets are farmers’ markets that have been established according to guidelines that follow the Slow Food philosophy. These community-run markets are important social meeting points, where local producers offer healthy, quality food directly to consumers at fair prices and guarantee environmentally sustainable methods. In addition, they preserve the food culture of the local community and contribute to defending biodiversity.” Furthermore, each vendor is required to have an educational component at his or her stall, and a no-GMO policy is strictly enforced.
Posted on Tue, July 12, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
2 sustainable seafood initiatives worth checking out: combating invasive fish species and reforming the “catch shares” system.
We’ve got two fish initiatives on the brain right now that we wanted to share with you.
1. Combating invasive fish species: Fish like Lion Fish and Asian carp are overtaking habitats and causing problems in rivers, lakes and reefs. How about this approach: eat them! As reported in the NY Times last week, “[Food and Water Watch’s] 2011 Smart Seafood Guide recommends for the first time that diners seek out invasive species as a “safer, more sustainable” alternative to their more dwindling relatives, to encourage fisherman and markets to provide them.” We are interested in this approach since it seems to achieve similar goals as he eater-based conservation Slow Food has promoted throughout its biodiversity work. In the case of endangered foods that deserve to be kept growing, we can create incentives to farmers and chefs by creating a demand for them (i.e. eat it to save it) in a way that actually increases their long-term chance of survival. This new push to eat abundant, invasive fish suggests eating can also work for species that are quite the opposite of endangered.
2. Balancing the environment and economics: Another issue we have been tracking closely is something called “Catch Shares.” This term refers to programs being implemented in coastal fishing areas that try to address overfishing by creating a system of quotas and distribution. i.e. the intent of the programs was to create a system of environmental stewardship, to keep fragile fish populations from being depleted by unsustainable, often large-scale, fishing companies that have started to dominate the waters. Although the intent of catch shares was positive, in effect, this natural resource has become privatized without ensuring the protections to fish populations that it sought to create, and meanwhile has pushed out the smaller fishing operations who were unable to secure sufficient quotas to stay in business. How did this happen? Click here to read more about the situation and take action.
The issue of how to ensure renewable, healthy fish populations without jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who bring us those fish, is a pressing concern to seafood fans nationwide and we’re committed to telling the story as it unfolds. Some other groups in addition to Food and Water Watch are exploring ways that these inequities can be corrected—we’ll keep you posted for additional ways to get involved.
One other article on fisheries caught our eye this week: an article in New York magazine about how fishermen on the Northeast coast are frustrated by bycatch and catch limit guidelines that are forcing them to toss dying and dead fish back into the water. It’s definitely an article with a strong point of view—what do you all think?
photo by loki_hound.
Posted on Wed, July 06, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food chapters around the world are embarking on an ambitious project: creating 1000 food gardens in 20 countries across Africa.
Slow Food members from all parts of the globe are partnering with African communities in order to cultivate more sustainable and healthy regions. Slow Food USA encourages you to get involved, as several chapters in the US already have.
Want to learn more? Here’s what Samuel Muhunyu, one of the people most responsible for getting the program started, had to say about the genesis of the gardens and the impact they’re already having. We’ll continue to tell the story of how Slow Food members are making a difference with this program through our blog. More contact information and web resources at the end of the post.
Posted on Thu, June 30, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
A Slow Food leader shares her observations about a recent trip to Cuba to study food & agriculture.
Linda Slezak (Slow Food East End treasurer) and I recently visited Cuba on a food sovereignty study trip with Food First. A piece I wrote about Cuba’s approach to thrift and re-use was posted yesterday on Civil Eats. Linda shared her observations in the Slow Food East End newsletter, and we have reprinted them below. Food First offers Food Sovereignty tours to many other places—including Mali, Bolivia, Mexico and Spain—throughout the year.
Linda provided the following observations about her experiences in Cuba.
Cuba is a case in point about the unsustainability of monoculture farming.During Colonial times, Cuba was a plantation island providing export crops such as sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Food crops were largely imported and during the years between 1963 and 1989, chemical fertilizers and pesticides were heavily relied upon for agriculture. It was only due to the losses sustained by not having access to imported food and chemicals to grow their own, that Cuba “went green.”
Going green is another way of saying that Cuba’s agriculture underwent a major overhaul. Land has been redistributed and crops are being cultivated using natural and organic methods with sustainability as the goal. The farmers that we met at both large and small farms (urban and suburban plots are the newest form of community based agriculture) were so proud of their farms and their organic methods. Most of these farmers have developed their own innovative solutions to their climate and terrain challenges. Raised-bed farming, digging wells for water, terracing and covering fragile crops with black, overhead netting to provide shade are just some of the many solutions the farmers have devised. Farming cooperatives are another model that helps farmers to share equipment and help each other.
Posted on Fri, June 17, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food NYC members recently took an urban foraging tour with locavore botanist Leda Meredith. Here’s what leader Jena Eiden saw, smelled, tasted, and thought.
—by Jena Eiden
To hear Leda Meredith recall past foraging expeditions, you might think she was roaming the aisles of the famed Park Slope Food Co-op or a local farmers market. Hen-in-the-woods mushrooms, mulberries, wild black cherries, garlic mustard… wait, didn’t I just see that back on aisle three? If you are lucky enough to attend one of Leda’s foraging tours, you might just find a few similarities between your neighborhood market and Prospect Park.
Last Saturday our group of 11 foraging neophytes met at Grand Army Plaza to join local botanist, ballerina, locavore, and author Leda Meredith (author of The Locavore’s Handbook and the memoir Botany, Ballet & Dinner from Scratch) on a 2-hour foraging tour through Brooklyn’s largest green space, Prospect Park, followed by a trip to nearby Beer Table to sample Leda’s foraged snacks alongside a craft brew.
So what made this Saturday different than any other Saturday spent strolling through the park and grabbing a drink from a local watering hole? It was relaxing, educational, inspiring, but most of all—fun!
Posted on Fri, June 10, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Earlier this year 60 farmers and farming advocates told Monsanto enough is enough. Here’s the story of the lawsuit, and how one farmer got involved.
While a cow or goat may respect a property fence, pollen knows no such boundaries. Even if a farmer plants a field of non-GMO (not genetically modified) corn, she may still end up with some genetically engineered material on her farm if GMO pollen “drifts” over from a neighbor’s field. Monsanto has a history of taking farmers to court if they’re found to be in possession of patented plant material without permission, even if the plant material came to their fields inadvertently.
But now, tired of living in fear of lawsuits that they claim are unjust, a group of farmers, seed savers, and farm advocates is challenging the agribusiness giant’s right to continue the practice.
We’re inspired by this landmark case and today we’re happy to have more background and perspective to share with you from one of the plaintiffs, Tom Willey. Tom is an organic farmer in Madera, California and a Slow Food USA regional governor. Here are some highlights from our conversation about why this case matters to him, to his fellow farmers, and to consumers in general.
What is your role in the lawsuit? Why did you decide to get involved?
There are too many people in the agricultural community being picked off one by one over this issue of their crops being contaminated by genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Everyone on the suit is potentially liable to be sued by Monsanto. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) initiated this suit to deny Monsanto the right to sue farmers for being inadvertently contaminated with GMO genes.
If you stand by and watch your neighbors being abused and don’t do anything to back them up, there may not be anyone there to help you. It’s very difficult for individual farmers to defend themselves from legal onslaughts from Monsanto so we thought we best go after defending the whole farming community as a group. Luckily PUPBAT has the resources to help us make that happen and hopefully we’ll prevail.
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.