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, February 08, 2013 by Angelines Alba Lamb
Slow Food East Bay member Lauren Zaira gives us a window into potluck fun- no meat allowed.
Slow Food East Bay Vegetarian Potluck, Jan 2013
“Big Pig Roast.” That’s the kind of announcement I’m used to seeing for Slow Food East Bay. Or “Meat CSA” or “Sources for your Heritage Turkey.” There is nothing wrong with these events – unless you happen to be a vegetarian. So when I saw “Vegetarian Winters Potluck” as part of a “Winter Warmers” evening of potlucks to be held in the East Bay, I jumped at the chance to go. In addition to gathering people to help celebrate the New Year with a focus on the winter season, these potlucks would also be a chance to raise money and awareness about the People’s Community Market in West Oakland.
The coordination for the potluck took place with ease. There were a few emails back and forth amongst the hosts and member participants, which included Slow Food potluck guidelines that spelled out how to do things right. Our menu came together as each person emailed what they intended to bring. The dishes were inventive and at the same time reflected our winter season. Someone asked, “Should we bring beer or wine?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Especially after one of the participants acknowledged she works in the wine business.
The end result was awe-inspiring. Our host, a seasoned potluck organizer, had his kitchen well prepared for hungry Slow Fooders. He timed things right and allowed for schmoozing before we dug into our amazing feast, which included: homemade bread, squash soup, roasted vegetables with white bean garlic dip, raw kale sesame salad, farro with arugula, spicy green beans, local cheeses and fruit, gluten-free pizza topped with butternut squash, home-grown dried ground chilies to sprinkle on everything if desired, spicy pickled brussels sprouts, home brew, local and international wines, and homemade aged noccino (green walnut liquor). Having just returned from a year living abroad in tropical El Salvador, I was struck by the complexity and variety of the meal. The Bay Area is so very blessed with great food choices and these people knew what they were doing!
Not that everyone at the party was a practicing vegetarian. Some of us, yes, but for those who weren’t, it was understood that it was OK to do without meat, at least for the night. More than OK, it was a pause worth taking. There’s nothing like eliminating something to appreciate it more.
After eating and getting to know one another, we all listened intently to Brahm Ahmadi, founder of the People’s Community Market. He gave us his thoughtful and thorough pitch to help raise funds to build a neighborhood grocery store in an underserved community. We asked questions and also shared some of our own experiences with the People’s Grocery, the organization that led to the creation of the People’s Community Market.
When it was time to head home, we left with full bellies, new connections, and the feeling that we are all part of something bigger – the Slow Food Movement. Together, in our own special way, we each did our part to help create community, an ongoing and joyous process.
Lauren Zaira, Slow Food Member
Just back from El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America.
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.
Posted on Thu, September 27, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The Nopal Cactus, native to the Mojave Desert, has been used for generations as a food source with multiple uses and benefits that may surprise you.
Written by Robert Morris, co-founder of Slow Food Las Vegas and former Professor Emeritus from the University of Nevada
If you were to pair cactus with other foods you might want to consider pairing it with limes and paprika. This is a popular pairing in Mexico with the cactus food called nopalitos where Opuntia ficus-indica, the prickly pear or nopal cactus, is native. In the popular literature you might think that this cactus was native to Italy since this plant gets much more play there as a food than where it grows natively, the inland deserts of Central Mexico.
However, Mexicans have enjoyed this food in many prepared forms for centuries. In respect for its place of origin, I prefer to use the Mexican terms for the edible portions of the plant: tunas (fruit), nopales (immature whole cactus pads for eating) and nopalitos (cactus pads that have been prepared for eating or cooking).
In 2003, I established nopal cactus plots at the University Orchard located at the Center for Urban Horticulture and Water Conservation in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Faculty and my good friends at the University of Sonora-Hermosillo, Mexico (USON) donated cactus pads from USON’s agricultural farm just outside of Hermosillo and taught us how to plant and manage their production.
Posted on Mon, September 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The second installment in our “Food and Farming Spotlight” features Slow Food Piedmont Triad’s leader, Margaret Norfleet-Neff, and her daughter and the chapter’s youth leader, Salem Neff.
Written by Slow Food USA’s PR & Marketing Manager, Emily Walsh
Symbiosis between a mother and child begins at infancy when the child still depends upon them for survival and it usually starts to taper off as the child becomes more self-sufficient. But by the time the child reaches adulthood, they and their mother, while still close, are often living separate lives that are independent of one another in many ways.
I wanted to preface the following transcript with this idea because I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Margaret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, and they truly have one of the most special parent-child relationships I’ve ever encountered. In addition to sharing the same life passion—enjoying and connecting others with Good, Clean and Fair food—they work together. And while we all know working with family has a reputation for being a bad idea, this mother-daughter duo seems to know the secret. Always ready to jump in and help the other finish their sentences, they are seemingly as comfortable challenging the other to think about things differently.
In addition to their work with the local Slow Food chapter (Slow Food Piedmont Triad), Margaret and Salem own Beta Verde, a local food project that plays a variety of roles in Winston-Salem’s (North Carolina) food and farming community. From planning farm-to-table events, to partnering on research and the development of new food and agricultural initiatives, to specializing in preservation of the season’s harvest, the project promotes Slow Food and makes more people more aware of the story behind their food. They’re also market managers for the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market, which U.S. News and World Report recently voted one of America’s 11 best farmers markets.
So without further ado, please meet Margaret and Salem!
Posted on Mon, August 27, 2012 by Tim Smith
The Japanese bento box is a cultural food tradition that is perfect for packing a lunch, but also packs flair and color that kids love!
Written by and originally featured on The Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily
We all know school cafeteria school lunch isn’t something to look forward to, and mom’s packed lunches aren’t always the cat’s meow, either. But imagine a lunch so great that it would be the envy of the entire cafeteria. The Japanese bento box, compartmental by nature, is the perfect box to pack lunch in. Not only that, but there’s a tradition in Japan of decorating the food in a bento box to look pleasing to the eye (called “kawaii”)—which, of course, is perfect for kids.
These bento box lunches from our blogger friends are designed for kids. Okay, so they may require some extra time to assemble, but at least you know your kids are eating a healthy lunch made with love and care (let’s hope they’re not trading them for bags of chips). Kids deserve a better, more fun school lunch and these bento boxes guarantee just that.
What do you think of bento box lunches packed for kids? Let us know in the comments.
Posted on Wed, August 08, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Preserving local food culture is more than just soil & seed. Slow Food Asheville’s Appalachian Food Storybank proves that it’s mainly about people.
Written By Deirdra Stockmann, Slow Food USA volunteer and former leader with Slow Food Huron Valley
The hills of Southern Appalachia and the people who live there have long been shaped by their foodways – the cultural, economic and geographic paths that weave people and land together. And those green hills have listened silently as generations have passed down recipes, farming techniques and stories about growing and eating together. People, of course, have listened to these stories as well, but most of them have never been recorded, some have been lost, and countless tales and tricks of the trade reside only in the minds and memories of the region’s elders.
In 2011, Slow Food Asheville created the Appalachian Food Storybank as a way to “acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage foods and foodways in order to promote the preservation of diverse local knowledges, natural resources, and food biodiversity.” In less than two years, the program has established a committed group of volunteers, built partnerships with other organizations, and created an enthusiastic buzz among local media and area residents eager to help preserve their own local history.
Posted on Sat, July 21, 2012 by Slow Food USA
From $500 grills to 100 year old fish boils, the tradition of outdoor cooking survives as a summer staple in the U.S.
Written by Slow Food USA Associate Director of National Programs, Angelines M. Alba Lamb
If you ever find yourself driving up the Bronx River Parkway in New York City on a weekend evening after 6pm, try to make a detour off the 233rd Street exit. If you eat meat, I promise you won’t be disappointed. A crew of Trinidadian men set-up two smokers and a variety of grills and cook jerked chicken, pork, beef, and fish until dawn, relying on the after-party crowd to flood the block despite the early hour. The food is deceptively simple and delicious. Relying on family recipes and pure instinct for flavor these men carry on a tradition that spans all if not most cultures, ethnicities, nations, and families: cooking outdoors.
Outdoor cooking is most celebrated here in the U.S, during the summer. We’re encouraged to buy grills for our fathers on Father’s Day, are accosted by displays of hot dog and hamburger buns every time we enter a grocery store, and doesn’t it seem like every national holiday or birthday is celebrated with a BBQ? But there is more to outdoor cooking than just barbecue and $500 grills.
Posted on Tue, July 17, 2012 by Slow Food USA
We’ve teamed up with Daniel Klein and the folks over at Perennial Plate to deliver monthly video stories, our first dispatch features highlights from An American Food (Road)Trip.
Nearly two-and-half years ago, Daniel Klein and his colleague Mirra Fine over at Perennial Plate set out to tell the stories of real food in the United States. In their first two seasons, they filmed several terabytes of coverage and more than 100 episodes in nearly every state. This season, they will embark on a bold new journey—telling the story of food culture internationally! Beginning this month, we’ll by teaming up with Perennial Plate, as a video content partner, for a regular monthly feature here on the Slow Food USA blog, lifting up new and interesting food stories told through video. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking back at some of our combined highlights. So without further ado, here’s one of their season recaps. And don’t forget to tune in next month for more fun from the road!
Posted on Tue, June 19, 2012 by Slow Food USA
How escaping the supermarket and finding a more pure form of beef transformed a non-meat eater into a beef conisior
Written by Lynne Curry, co-chair Slow Food Wallowas and author of the new cookbook Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut
In 2001, I moved from Seattle to the remote Wallowa Valley in eastern Oregon. I was drawn to the lifestyle of a small town mixed with artists, self-starters and ranchers and easy access to the wilderness. Cows and their newborn calves populated the landscape that spring, but I didn’t give them a second thought.
At the time, I didn’t even eat meat, and I certainly never expected to devote over two years to researching and writing about beef. Back then, beef was beef was beef. In the supermarket, all of it came from a single, centralized commodity supply chain controlled by four corporations.
In 11 years, beef has diversified into many niche markets—natural, organic and grassfed. Across the country, high-end restaurants now feature grassfed steaks, grocery chains sell a variety of natural and organic brands, and we all have more decisions to make at the meat counter.
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.