What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, May 16, 2013 by Slow Food USA
We chefs are blessed with the capacity to influence the public’s food choices. And our purchasing power is equally as influential among producers and purveyors. We will continue to push for ingredients produced and harvested with a passion for quality that matches our own; and we will continue to share the stories behind these ingredients with our customers, schoolchildren, public health professionals, the media—anyone, in fact, who will listen.
In the late 1980s, I was a cook at Square One in San Francisco, California, where the food revolution was already under way. While the word “sustainability” did not exist in our vocabulary as chefs, there was an overarching belief that to be the best chef—and to make the best meals—you needed to start with great ingredients. It was not uncommon for chefs in that area to search out the best farmers, ranchers, bread bakers and cheesemakers because we knew that they put just as much care into their work as we did.
When I returned to New England in 1996, I found a much different culture. The area was not as robust with farmers, fishers, and other food artisans who shared a commitment to grow and produce great food, and it was a struggle to find the caliber of ingredients I was used to working with.
By then, Chefs Collaborative had a presence in Boston, and the organization connected me to like-minded chefs and food producers. Through my participation in Chefs Collaborative, I had an epiphany that flavor, healthfulness, and quality of ingredients are intricately linked to the care that is shown to the environment during production.
We chefs are blessed with the capacity to influence the public’s food choices. And our purchasing power is equally as influential among producers and purveyors. We will continue to push for ingredients produced and harvested with a passion for quality that matches our own; and we will continue to share the stories behind these ingredients with our customers, schoolchildren, public health professionals, the media—anyone, in fact, who will listen. With these and other efforts, we hope to keep this conversation—this movement—progressing.
With The Chef’s Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious: Recipes from America’s Great Chefs, we start where we always have—with a mixture of flavor and community. These two values have anchored us to our mission and principles since we began our work 20 years ago, and we have no doubt they will carry us into the decades to come. The community at our core is reflected in it—from the chefs who have provided recipes and information about our food to the farmers, ranchers, fishers, cheesemakers, foragers, and others who have brought the food into our kitchens and given us the tools and the context to understand how great flavor is created.
This cookbook is a blueprint for cooking like a sustainably minded chef. You’ll find delicious dishes that feature less familiar cuts of meat, like Beef Shin and Farro Soup, Pork Heart and Sausage Ragoût over Pasta. Lesser-known seafood species show up in Whey-Poached Triggerfish with Asparagus and Coconut Black Drum Seviche. And seasonal showpieces like Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Spring Peas and Tarragon and Autumn Pear “Ravioli” with Chanterelle and Shaved Pear Salad will inspire you to cook in the rhythm of the seasons. The recipes will make you want to head straight to the kitchen (with a quick stop at the farmer’s market first, of course).
Sustainable cuisine is about an approach to sourcing and cooking predicated on flavor, quality, and sharing our passion and knowledge. The pleasures of the table—that mix of flavor and community—enrich us in mind, body, and soul and inspire us to do our best work.
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.
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 Fri, October 07, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Why is it so hard to figure out how to buy seafood sustainably? How did we get here? Roots of Change takes a deep dive into the problem with California salmon and points to some solutions.
By Bobbie Peyton for Roots of Change
California salmon feed the country but their habitat is threatened to a perilous degree. To understand how that came to be, we have to acknowledge the complex, interconnected reality of our food system.
In California, the current salmon crisis can be traced to the early 1900s when the state chose to use its finite water supply to develop its urban centers and industrial agriculture, rather than maintaining its free-running inland waterways (i.e. rivers and creeks). The dams created to bring water to cities and farms did so at the expense of maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems, and blocked salmon spawning routes.
Indeed the appropriation of abundant amounts of water and the creation of 1,400 dams transformed California into a “cornucopia,” the largest agricultural state in the U.S. But this choice to favor agriculture and developing cities still haunts us today.
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 Wed, May 04, 2011 by Slow Food USA
While many of us have become more conscious about the impacts of our personal food choices, we can’t fix the broken food system simply by changing what’s on our plate.
This post is based on the upcoming book Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
by Oran Hesterman
A Broken Food System
Our food system is failing many of us. Originally designed to produce abundant food at low cost, it now destroys some of what we hold most precious—our environment, our health, and our future.
While many of us have become more conscious about the impacts of our personal food choices, we can’t fix the broken food system simply by changing what’s on our plate. The answer lies beyond the kitchen: it relies on our willingness to be fair food “solutionaries” in our communities, in the institutions where we work, and with policy makers.
Beyond Your Kitchen
This is a moment when you can make a difference if you harness your voice, beliefs, passion, and resources to promote a fair and healthy food system. If you are ready to participate in creating a fair food future beyond your own kitchen, one place to start is in your community.
To read the rest of this post and learn about shifting institutional purchasing power as well as ways to get involved in food policy change, click here.
Posted on Thu, April 21, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Last month we asked you for contributions towards Michael Pollan’s next edition of Food Rules
. From the thousands of replies we received, Pollan picked 3.
Last month we asked you, the Slow Food network, for contributions towards Michael Pollan’s next edition of Food Rules
, to be illustrated by Maira Kalman. From the thousands of replies we received, Pollan picked 3. His picks are below.
Many thanks for the outpouring of food wisdom. More than 4,000 of you answered my request for your personal food rules—truly overwhelming, and enormously helpful as I sit down to complete the new illustrated edition ofFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
After sifting through all of the submissions, I’ve decided to include these three excellent rules:
Place a bouquet on the table and everything will taste twice as good. – Gisbert P. Auwaerter, Cutchogue, NY
Love your spices. They add richness and depth to food without salt. – Claire Cheney, Jamaica Plain, MA
When you eat real food, you don’t need rules. – Mandy Gerth
Not only is there real wisdom in these words, but it seems to me the ideas here beautifully reflect the values of Slow Food. I’m grateful to have them in the book. The winners will each receive a copy signed by both me and Maira Kalman, when it is published in November.
There were many other interesting and provocative rules, though some of them were less useful or scientifically verifiable than entertaining. Three of my favorites:
Eat Pringles only with diet soda.
The French fries you pick off someone else’s plate carry no calories.
White bread is only good for picking up glass or cleaning typewriter keys.
Heartfelt thanks to all of you for engaging in this conversation. Your contributions vindicated the premise of both the book and of Slow Food, which is that the conversation of culture has more to teach us about how to eat healthily and happily than all the nutritional studies, government advisories, and food industry promises.
Posted on Fri, April 08, 2011 by Slow Food USA
A new book called ” ‘Chasing Chiles’ captures the essence of why people continue, against all odds, to grow the food that they love.”
Chasing Chiles, a new book by Kurt Friese, Gary Nabhan and Kraig Kraft, looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper—from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role.
Below is an excerpt from chapter 3 of Chasing Chiles, :
One of the most delightful food discoveries for us in Mérida was xnipek (pronounced SHNEE-peck). The name comes from the Mayan language and means “dog’s nose.” Unappetizing as that might sound at first, rest assured there is no dog in the recipe. It’s simply a reference to this salsa’s heat level. Hot chiles can cause the nose to run, thus the metaphor.
There’s more to xnipek than just heat, though. It not only uses the Yucatecan powerhouse chile—the habanero—but also includes the native fruit known as naranja agria, or bitter orange, which is also the secret to great Yucatecan escabeche. It’s hard to find fresh in the States, so there’s a brief recipe for a reasonable facsimile following our rendition of this fiery relish.
We found many versions of xnipek in our travels around the Yucatán. All had the habanero and bitter orange, but beyond that they varied widely. This is why we prefer the term genuine to authentic—it allows for many interpretations while still remaining true to tradition.
Xnipek is one of the salsas collectively referred to as Pico de Gallo, or “beak of the chicken,” a reference either to the size of the chopped ingredients or to chicken feed. It’s made of many ingredients chopped together to form more of a relish than a sauce (or salsa). Our favorite renditions include the unique addition of fresh cabbage, which adds another layer of flavor and crunch.
½ cup green cabbage, chopped or shredded
2 fresh habanero chiles, seeded and minced (you could substitute any chile, but you’d lose the right to call it “genuine”)
2 medium-ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1 red onion, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh-squeezed bitter orange juice (or use the facsimile, below, but stick with fresh)
3–4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Soak the cabbage in ice water for an hour or so to make it crispy. Drain and dry thoroughly using a salad spinner or paper towels.
Toss the cabbage together with the habaneros, tomatoes, onion, and bitter orange juice. Let stand at room temperature for a couple of hours, or in the refrigerator overnight, then add the fresh chopped cilantro right before service.
Yields around 2 cups
Makeshift Bitter Orange Juice
Combine in a 2:1:1 ratio, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lime juice. Let stand for an hour. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 day.
Posted on Mon, April 04, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Proceeds from McSweeney’s quirky first cookbook will benefit Slow Food USA.
by Lindsay Dula
You might know McSweeney’s as a clever, thoughtful, and often funny literary journal. It’s also a small publishing house that has launched a food imprint. First dish up? A new book called Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant. It promises to be a fun and interesting combination of cookbook and food-related essays. Here’s how the publisher, McSweeney’s, describes it:
Mission Street Food is a restaurant. But it’s also a charitable organization, a taco truck, a burger stand, and a clubhouse for inventive cooks tucked inside an unassuming Chinese take-out place. In all its various incarnations, it upends traditional restaurant conventions, in search of moral and culinary satisfaction.
Like Mission Street Food itself, this book is more than one thing: it’s a cookbook featuring step-by-step photography and sly commentary, but it’s also the memoir of a madcap project that redefined the authors’ marriage and a city’s food scene. Along with stories and recipes, you’ll find an idealistic business plan, a cheeky manifesto, and thoughtful essays on issues ranging from food pantries to fried chicken. Plus, a comic.
We are happy to announce that proceeds from every sale of this book will go directly to Slow Food USA, with our organization receiving $10 for every $30 pre-order of Mission Street Food—but only pre-orders through the McSweeney’s store. After the publication date in July, we will receive $5 per book ordered through McSweeney’s and $1 per book purchased indirectly.
Pre-order your copy of Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant though McSweeney’s and support Slow Food USA’s efforts toward good, clean and fair food.
The authors describe the reasons for this decision on their blog; you can read it by clicking here.
Posted on Fri, November 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Michael Blanding’s book aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke.
A version of this piece first appeared on Civil Eats
My dirty truth is that I have a collection of Coke bottles from around the world: one from Mexico, one with Arabic script, one covered in unrecognizable lettering and filled with Yugoslavian beach glass (a present from a friend who traveled there with her family in 1990 and brought it back as a present for me). And on and on. I was a teenager when I gathered them, and totally oblivious to the implications behind this international menagerie of emptied glass. This drink was everywhere, tailored slightly through variations in local water and variations in bottle size, but ultimately the same. I loved that I could find it anywhere: the great unifier.
Michael Blanding’s book, The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke. He tells Coke’s story from the beginning, starting with the beverage’s origins in 1886 as a snake oil tonic and extending all the way up to its present incarnation as a multinational beverage corporation.
It’s a measure of my tremendous cynicism about corporations that more of this book didn’t shock the pants off of me. The story of the company’s early days, carving out an identity and working to convince the public that this refreshing leisure drink was a necessity, was captivatingly told and a great example of how iconic brands are built. In Coke’s case it was built aggressively with a focus on growth and led by unprecedentedly well-funded advertising campaigns.
Market growth is It for Coke, and Blanding chronicles how the company’s desire for growth eventually led them to bottle tap water, add some secret minerals and corner a whole new market. After all, there is a limit to how much soda one person can drink, right? Actually, that limit might be higher than you expect. One of the more troubling accounts in the book is of a town in Mexico called San Juan de Chamula, where newborns are fed Coke in their bottles, and locals worship their Saints by downing ritual glasses of Coca-Cola and leaving cola offerings at church altars. As one local guide explains it “Here Coca-Cola is cash, poison, magic, passion, pleasure, torture, love and medicine.” But not everyone has welcomed Coke’s presence.
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.