What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, September 21, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Author Anna Lappe makes a homemade organic egg/muffin sandwich and tries to answer the question: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it? And if so, what does that even mean for the nation’s poor?
by Anna Lappé
I hear it all the time: I can’t eat healthy; organic food is so expensive! Over the weekend, Slow Food USA brought together more than 30,000 people around the country to tackle this lament with the “$5 Challenge,” showing how we can eat well on five bucks. Sure, if you go to a Whole Foods in Manhattan you can be set back $20 bucks before you know it, and with little to show for it. But, as Team SFUSA helped reveal, there are ways to stretch your dollar and eat well.
Still, all this got me wondering: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it?
At a McDonald’s in Greenpoint, a friend pointed out to me, Egg McMuffins were going for $2.99. Seems cheap, right? (Of course, if you know much about our modern industrial food system and its costs, you’d know that this price tag doesn’t account for how much you and I are really paying: the billions in health care costs because of preventable diet-related illnesses; the billions more in pollution clean-up costs, largely from the factory farms producing the meat, including that McMuffin bacon. You get the idea.)
But let’s stick with the actual price: $2.99. And compare that with what it would cost to make an organic, homemade Egg Mc-ish-muffin.
I priced out the ingredients from a Brooklyn supermarket (not a Whole Foods, mind you) and calculated the specific price per ingredient based on a comparable portion size. The grand total for the organic, homemade one? $2.59. Yup, that’s forty cents less than the fast food “cheap” meal.
Posted on Sun, September 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place all over the country. Hundreds of people submitted photos as well as sharing what parts of the challenge were difficult and what made it difficult.
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place!
Click here to see photos from Hawai’i to Illinois to New York to Texas….from potlucks to family dinners to community suppers to food truck rallies,
No matter where they were or how they came together, they were all trying to answer the question: is it possible to make a healthy, local, and delicious meal for under $5 per person?
People got creative and brought their own flair to it—like Bear Braumoeller of Slow Food Columbus, who decided to take the $5 Challenge one step further. He attempted (and, SPOILER ALERT, succeeded) to create a sustainable $5 meal in 15 minutes—to show that sustainable cooking can be quick as well as affordable. Also he live tweeted it.
Bear wasn’t the only one tweeting his progress. Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, asked his 6,000+ followers questions like “My #5challenge dilemma: Cut which of these to make budget: 3 of 8 apples 4 tart? Squash (ergo soup)? Sausage 4 stuffed peppers (more rice)?”
Posted on Fri, September 16, 2011 by Gordon Jenkins
Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, shares a recipe for cooking a vegetable that’s always easy to find.
’The golden age only comes to men when they have forgotten gold.’
-Gilbert K. Chesterton
One of the hardest parts of trying to cook affordably and well is figuring out vegetables. Fundamental to good eating, vegetables present all sorts of hurdles. They’re often expensive; they’re perishable—if you don’t get to them as quickly as you’d like, you watch your money wilt and liquefy—and unless you buy them cut up, which isn’t as good a bargain as it appears, they’re labor intensive.
Probably the greatest hurdle to regular vegetable eating is that, depending where you live and the time of year, a good, reasonably priced vegetable can seem hard to come by. I recommend considering the possibility that there’s a vegetable hiding in plain sight. There’s usually one closer at hand than you think as long as you know how to look: it’s probably hidden in the dark corner of your pantry, or in a dusty bin at your corner store. As soon as you dig it out and dust it off, you’ll find yourself rich in vegetables that you’d had all along.
Posted on Wed, September 14, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Slow Food Upstate leader Janette Wesley tells us what makes Earth Markets different from other farmers markets, how the project got started, and what’s next for the market.
Our chapter ran into a large dilemma when we were developing plans for the market which became our primary reason to see the realization of the project. At first we had reservations about starting a market in Greenville because our region has many established markets. As Earth Markets have a strict no-GMO policy, we began to discover, to our astonishment, there were no producers in the entire southeastern USA making a non-GMO animal feed. Therefore, many otherwise good producers of meat, cheese, poultry, and eggs were knocked out of the application process.
Although many farmers who raise animals or use animal products in their foods would be interested in being GMO-free, the closest source of non-GMO animal feed is in Ohio, rendering it too expensive and logistically complicated to be a viable feed option. We also discovered that “Certified Organic” gives an option if non-gmo feed is not available or too cost prohibitive to allow for GMO animal feed to be included under the certification, and we felt the consumer had a right to this information.
However as a result of our conversations, and the discovery of how widespread the conundrum goes, we now have formed a small group of producers who are looking for ways to manage this problem, and have an apple grower in North Carolina who has grown this summer non-GMO corn for feed, and which is now ready to harvest and mill.
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 Fri, September 09, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, Amy knew that her household food budget had to take a hit. She also knew that she didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with her family, and her friends. This is her story.
by Slow Food Rhode Island chapter leader Amy McCoy
There’s much to love about Slow Food – the story of its inception, Carlo Petrini and his band of hungry activists, doling out pasta at Rome’s Spanish Steps in protest of fast food (can’t you just see yourself, walking down the street, men and women with pots of pasta and pasta forks approaching you, asking if you’d care for a bowl with nonna’s sauce? How could you say no?), its evolution into an advocacy group, a group that cares about where our food comes from, that the people who grow and make our food earn a fair wage, and that good, clean, fair food be accessible to all.
Along with all of the other Slow Food devotees out there, I am passionate about these issues. How can you not be once you learn a little, and then a little more, about where your food comes from?
But if I’m being totally honest, the thing that initially lured me in – that got me hooked on Slow Food and its ideals – is that this is an organization dedicated to the love of food and the joy that sharing a good meal, made with care and high-quality ingredients, with friends and family could bring. You know that joy, too. The laughter and conversation, the smiling faces of your loved ones basking in the glow of a good meal. That’s as much a part of the enjoyment of food as is the flavor. And sharing that love – of food, family, and friends – was the biggest motivation for my food blog when I started it in 2008.
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, I knew that our household food budget had to take a hit. A sizable hit at that. Yet, I also knew that I didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with my husband, our extended family, and our friends. I also didn’t want to start shopping where the store’s values were different than my own just because the prices were lower on items like meat. I didn’t want to skip the farm stand or farmers market, and I still wanted to visit my friends at my favorite Italian market, even if Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto had to be relegated to special occasions only.
So a few adjustments were required. First, I set my weekly food budget. Then I did some research about sales. I became very familiar with the prices at the farm stand. I bought copious amounts of slightly blemished butternut squash from my farmer neighbors (and other fall vegetables, too, but, boy, did we eat a lot of butternut squash that first fall. Good thing we’re winter squash obsessed.). I made a meal plan for the week. The shopping list followed the meal plan. And I slapped myself silly – figuratively, of course, that would be over-the-top weird to whack myself in the store - every time I so much as looked at an item not on the list. “Stick to the list, only the list,” I chided myself.
Posted on Wed, September 07, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Can 8 co-workers navigate multiple palates, tastes, and dislikes to cook for each other every day? Nine months, two participant shuffles, six steady members, and three check-in meetings later, the Slow Food USA Lunch Co-op is a huge success!
A New York January isn’t the best time to start a cooking experiment whose ground rules include sourcing local ingredients. But after months of fantasizing about relief from dinner leftovers and overpriced takeout for lunch, eight Slow Food staffers risked their taste buds and reached their kale-and-winter squash recipe limit to begin a lunch cooperative. Inspired to action by a Civil Eats article chronicling another lunch co-op adventure (written by our very own Jerusha Klemperer—Slow Food’s Associate Director of Campaigns and Projects) we met and discussed the structure. On an eight –day rotation, a different person would cook for all other co-op members once every eight days. With multiple palates, tastes, and dislikes, we needed to set out some ground rules: 1.) As many whole, local and organic ingredients as possible. 2.) Each per person cost had to be less than $5. The whole meal could not cost more than $40 3.) Vegeterian meals only or at least one vegetarian serving for our meat-free member. 4.) Limit spicy dishes and anything with tuna or eggplant. 5.) Be bold and creative.
We also needed to make sure that the ball never got dropped. Using a Google doc calendar (see picture) to schedule the rotation has allowed us to edit whenever we want. It’s also color coded—meaning every eight-day cycle is a different color—immediately making clear which days in each cycle still need to be taken. The day’s chef sends an email with the menu so she can get feedback and also so everyone else gets excited!
Posted on Fri, August 26, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
“In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?” the author asks.
Earlier this summer, as I was hauling a bag of farmers market produce home 15 blocks and up four flights of stairs, sweating bullets, cursing my choice to buy a melon (they’re heavy!), I stopped mid-step.
“Does it really have to be this hard?” I asked myself.
My story is particular to me, of course, but all over the country there are people trying to put food on the table and asking themselves “does it really have to be this hard?”
I was living, at the time, in a neighborhood with few supermarkets. The ones within a long walking distance were either very expensive or lacking the seasonal produce I craved. So on weekends I would hike over to the big farmers market. But at the farmers market I always find myself of two minds. In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?
When people ask me: “Doesn’t the food you eat (some mix of local, sustainable, organic, etc.) cost so much more than “regular” food?” I protest and agree at the same time. When they say “Doesn’t cooking from scratch take a lot of time?” I remember the awesome pasta I cooked the other night that took 7.5 minutes. But also the weekend of foraging I did going from one store to the next.
I live in New York City; I make a living wage; I am not trying to feed a family; I work on these issues for a living. If I find it hard/tiring/expensive sometimes, what must other people feel?
In the spirit of this conundrum, Slow Food USA launched the $5 Challenge last week.
Posted on Mon, August 15, 2011 by Intern
Participants of the Willamette Food and Farm Coalition’s Farm to School project make frequent trips to local farms to learn and see first hand where their food comes from.
by intern Sasha Hippard
The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition’s Farm to School project just finished their spring season with great success! Through lessons both on the farm and in the kitchen, students left with an increased knowledge of where their food comes from, how to prepare it, and the benefits of eating local and healthy ingredients.
The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition is a community based non-profit based in Lane County, Oregon. They represent a diverse group of stakeholders in the local food systems, from farmers and producers to restaurateurs and consumers. The Farm to School project is aimed at educating Lane County kids about where their food comes from and working to incorporate locally grown produce into the meals served in schools.
As participants of the Farm to School project, students make frequent trips to local farms to learn and see first hand where their food comes from. However, thanks to the recent Anolon donation which included veggie peelers, cooking pots and pans, measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas, students can take this experience one step further. Not only can students see where their food comes from, but learn how to use it as well. From the farms, fresh fruits and veggies are harvested, and eggs gathered. Once in the classroom, students get busy cooking in small groups. By cooking up a snack with the food they’ve harvested themselves, students not only learn valuable lessons on food production and farming, but also tasty ways to use the ingredients they just saw produced.
With help from adult volunteers, kids have whipped up corn cakes with fresh strawberries, green salad with veggies and home-made ranch dressing, and scrambled eggs with sautéed greens. In the fall, the groups will return to the farms to harvest. Plans are being made to extend the repertoire of recipes further and make things like fresh salsa, potatoes with leeks and broccoli, and veggie soup with noodles. Yum.
Having good cooking supplies makes cooking fun and easy and connects kids to the source of their food to inspire healthy eating habits. The next master chef or revolutionary organic farmer just might come from this group of inspired (and full) kids!
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
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.