What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
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 Wed, February 08, 2012 by Slow Food USA
2012 is the UN International Year of Cooperatives. To get the word out, the National Cooperative Grocers Association has teamed up with celebrity chef Kevin Gillespie to tell the story of co-op’s across the country in this 13-part video series.
written by Robynn Shrader, CEO of National Cooperative Grocers Association
Every day the food co-op members of National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) celebrate the farmers, the people and the communities that they support, and that, in turn, embrace and sustain the cooperative business model. Food co-ops play a unique role in building local foods systems and vibrant economies.
This year, the United Nations provided a global platform for all co-op enterprises to share their stories by designating 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. This year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for food co-ops to raise awareness and celebrate the social and economic contributions of cooperative businesses, as well as help more people across the country discover what food co-ops are all about.
To get the word out, we teamed up with celebrity chef and passionate local foods advocate Kevin Gillespie. Together, we traveled around the country and captured food co-op stories on film to create a 13-part video series airing throughout this year. In the videos, Kevin treks through farm fields and grocery aisles, sharing stories about good food – everything from raising heritage breeds and five-star eggs to urban gardens, aluminum mulch and community-driven food sourcing.
I am excited to share these videos and the international celebration of cooperatives with Slow Food USA. Together, our shared passion for good food and desire to create vibrant and sustainable communities can go a long way toward building a better food system. We hope you will join us in celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives here!
Posted on Fri, June 25, 2010 by Slow Food USA
The third of the Department of Justice/USDA Anti-trust workshops is underway in Madison, WI, as we write this. Last night, as in Ankenny Iowa a few months ago, there was a town hall held the night before the workshop. Here’s a report from the field…-ed.
by Siena Chrisman, WHY Hunger
Appropriately, the evening began with a picnic featuring local cheese and ended with an ice cream social under a yellow moon. In between, dairy farmers, consumer advocates, professors, labor union representatives, faith communities, antihunger advocates, an aspiring cheesemaker, and even a Certified Public Accountant spoke out forcefully about the widespread injustices in the dairy industry.
The main event was a Dairy Town Hall Forum in Madison, Wisconsin, sponsored by Family Farm Defenders, National Family Farm Coalition, and Food and Water Watch, and timed to coincide with Friday’s Department of Justice and USDA workshop examining corporate concentration in the dairy industry. The workshop on Friday is part of the ongoing investigation (which I reported on here) by the two departments to determine whether food and agriculture companies have become too concentrated.
The dairy industry is one of the most concentrated in the country, with just one company controlling 40% of the US milk supply. Prices for farmers have fallen so low in the past three years that many dairy farmers were losing as much as $200 per cow every month in 2009. Meanwhile, even though the price farmers were paid for milk fell by almost 50% from 2007 to 2009, the retail price dropped by less than 25%. Someone’s profiting, but it’s not farmers or consumers.
Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
The Food Movement, Rising – New York Review of Books
Michael Pollan’s epic essay charting the emergence and character of the food movement.
Oil reaches Louisiana shores (PHOTOS) – Boston Globe
Over one month after the initial explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil slicks have slowly reached as far as 12 miles into Louisiana’s marshes.
Congresscritters Come Out Against GE Alfalfa – La Vida Locavore
Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Pat Leahy are circulating a letter to Tom Vilsack opposing the USDA’s decision regarding GE alfalfa.
Ohio Farmers Unhappy With Attack on Corn Sweetener – Associated Press
Food companies that remove high-fructose corn syrup from their products threaten the jobs of farmers in Ohio, the nation’s No. 7 grower of corn, state agriculture leaders say.
The Slaughterhouse Problem: is a resolution in sight? – Food Politics
After years of hearing sad tales about the slaughterhouse problem, it looks like many people are trying to get it resolved.
A Movable Beast – NY Times
Organic, grass-fed meat is much in demand in Manhattan restaurants, but little of it is local.
Ohio dairy farm worker charged with animal cruelty – Washington Post
An Ohio dairy farm worker has been charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals after a welfare group released a video it says shows him and others beating cows with crowbars and pitchforks.
In E. Coli Fight, Some Strains Are Largely Ignored – NY Times
As everyone focused on controlling E. coli O157:H7, the six rarer strains of toxic E. coli were largely ignored.
DC rejects soda tax but funds better school food – Grist
The Washington, D.C. city council yesterday agreed to fully fund a recently approved “Healthy Schools” initiative but not with a controversial “soda tax” as had been proposed. Rather, the city will begin imposing a more traditional sales tax of 6 percent on all soft drinks sold in the District.
Michelle Obama applauds food industry group’s pledge to trim calories – Washington Post
In a direct response to Michelle Obama’s declared war on childhood obesity, an alliance of major food manufacturers on Monday pledged to introduce new, more healthful options, cut portion sizes and trim calories in existing products.
Posted on Tue, September 29, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA director of development Kate Krauss
I have the greatest job. While some of my friends attend conventions in windowless hotel ballrooms, I get to go to the international Slow Food festival called “Cheese.” Thats right, its actually called Cheese. For 3 days, I sampled goat, sheep and cows-milk cheeses, saw demonstrations about different production techniques, and learned about the traditions of the craftmany of the cheesemakers I met have been working in the same meadows and traditions of generations of family members before them.
Cheese is held every other year in the small Italian town of Bra, where Slow Food got its start 20 years ago. Bra is one of those towns we Americans fantasize about when we think of visiting Italy. Its surrounded by the rolling hills of the Italian Piedmont and full of charming old buildings and narrow cobblestone streets where local pastry shops sell gianduja, a delicious combination of chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, and where ubiquitous butcher shops offer Salsiccia di Bra, the towns famous raw veal sausage.
Of course, Bra isnt quite so sleepy during the Cheese festival, when over 150,000 people descend on the town to taste offerings from all over the world and to attend cheese-themed workshops and lectures. These are people who pack the room for a lecture referred to (with a straight face) as The Joy of Natural Microflora. That one was about the use of natural bacteria to turn milk into cheese, as opposed to the freeze-dried, packaged cultures commonly used in industrial cheesemaking. I loved every minute of it.
As a relative newcomer to Slow Food USA, Ive watched as the organization has struggled with criticism for elitism, for promoting food thats inaccessible to many people. Weve worked hard to overcome that rap in the US by undertaking programs to help underserved communities and promote family farmers. And so while I was certainly excited to head to a cheese festival in Italy, I admit I went with a bit of a skeptical eye about the role of Slow Food. Wasnt this just a fancy wine and cheese festival?
What I encountered was something altogether different. It felt like coming face to face with the soul of the slow food movement. Humble men and women coming together from places like Ethiopia, Argentina, and alpine France and Italy (not to mention Oregon, Wisconsin and California) to trade not only production techniques but also stories for how to preserve their way of life. These were people who gathered together in appreciation of good food, but their appreciation and passion didnt end with taste. The Cheese attendees had a larger vision to protect mountain villages and traditional pastoral practices; to preserve centuries-old products, customs and natural landscapes.
It was three days among my people. And the realization that my people are present in villages, languages, and traditions all over the world. What a great way to spend a weekend.
Anybody else out there attend Cheese? Or anything like it youd like to share? Youre my people too, and Id love to hear from you.
Posted on Fri, June 26, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Part of what I love about “food books” as a genre is that the phrase is entirely non-specific, and covers everything from poetry to science, from art to history, from memoir to fiction. Today, some more summer reading suggestions, both about our broken food system, but very different from each other.
First, Robyn O’Brien‘s theUnhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It
. Her book is a good companion piece to “Food, Inc.” I think, exploring how food is making our kids sick, and how big business is profiting from that, all from a Mom’s first-hand perspective. As she explains it, pretty plain and simple: “the recent deregulation of the American food system allowed chemicals and additives into the American food supply that have either been banned or labeled from foods around the world in order to enhance profitability for the food industry.” Click here to read an excellent interview with her on Civil Eats.
Next up, a book I had the pleasure of getting to hear read aloud live (ok, well, parts of it) by the author the other night. Lisa Hamilton, a photographer and writer has crafted a beautiful triptych—three stories, three farmers, and how they are struggling to keep their way of farming alive in a world pushing towards the industrialization of damn near everything.Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
is clearly the work of a seasoned photographer; it reads like a giant photograph, with depth of field, and texture, and life bubbling up off the page.
Posted on Tue, June 09, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
There are a bunch of sustainable food documentaries that have been kicking around our circles for a few years now. Some of them are very good—enlightening, celebratory, inspiring, damning. But we all have probably wondered: who sees these but the proverbial choir?
Filmmaker Robert Kenner, along with producers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, is making a go at hitting the big time,—i.e. lots of viewers, even ones outside the usual circles—with his movie “Food, Inc.” The movie, which opens in NYC San Fran and LA on June 12th, got some primetime coverage in the New York Times this past weekend. The Times article will help the word spread, but so can you. Go see the movie, and while you’re at it, go tell some others to see the movie.
Participant Media is a unique production company in that they release their movies as part of a social action campaign. Remember “An Inconvenient Truth?” This time around they are focusing on food issues of all shapes and sizes. The movie touches on many issues, including violations of farmworkers’ rights; aggressive litigiousness on the part of large agribusiness; food safety; the role of industrial organic; and some straight up weird stuff like an irradiated fat slurry that goes into most hamburger meat produced in this country. The main theme, as the title suggests, is what goes wrong when corporations control the food system.
Along with the movie they have released a companion book with the subtitle: “How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer—And What You Can Do About It.” It includes pieces by many of the faces in the movie, like Eric Schlosser, Gary Hirshberg (of Stonyfield Farm Organic), and farmer Joel Salatin, as well as a few people and organizations who did not have face time in the movie, such as Heifer International and United Farm Workers.
In addition, they are focusing on improving school lunch and the Child Nutrition Act’s Reauthorization—you can check out their “interactive cafeteria” and sign their school lunch petitionhere.
With movies like this, it’s important to head out the first few days they’re open, so run out this weekend and see “FOOD, Inc.” if you haven’t already.
Posted on Tue, April 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
The title of Nicolette Hahn Nimans compelling new book, Righteous Porkchop
, is honest, and indicates one of the books strengthsits exploration of the moral issues behind our broken food system. As a vegetarian rancher she is uniquely poised to be even more righteous than most. Not only has she abstained from eating meat herself since young adulthood, she spends her days sustainably raising cattle for others to eat. Who can top that?
Of course, this wasnt always the case. Not even 10 years ago she was a young single gal in the city, recruited by Bobby Kennedy, Jr. to head up the Waterkeeper Alliances new industrial hog campaign. With a background as a lawyer, she set out to take industrial hog farms (primarily in North Carolina) to task via the legal system for their gross environmental transgressions. She worked crushing hours, giving up her healthy lifestyle and her social life. But along the way, she won several important legal battles and put the issue of industrial hog farming on the map. In addition, in a story line you just cant make up, she met and fell in love with Bill Niman, an older-than-her sustainable cattle rancher and entrepeneur, and her life was changed forever. P.S. he calls her porkchop.
In addition, her work with Waterkeeper led her inside the belly of the beastor inside the poop lagoons of the beasts, anyway—and the book follows her journey. The reader makes discoveries alongside her, experiencing her righteous indignation and disbelief upon seeing those farms, as well as her heartbreak over the treatment of the animals she meets. As she explains, the assembly lines of industrial systems function well for the mass production of inanimate objects. But they are complete failures at respecting the individuality, instincts, and needs of living creatures.
Posted on Wed, November 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA
On this day after the election, the staff of Slow Food USA took a moment to talk about how we can build on the momentum of Barack Obamas historic Presidential win. While were hopeful that our new President and all the men and women elected in races across the nation yesterday will put the FOOD back into food policy, we understand that we cant assume anything. We know that to help make change in our broken food system, much of the work must come from the ground up while we keep our leaders feet to the fire.
Journalist Michael Pollan, a Slow Food Advisory Board member, recently wrote a great letter challenging the next President to improve our nation’s food policy. In an October 23 article in Time Magazine, President Elect Obama responded, saying that our current industrialized food system is creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs.
We need to work with the incoming administration to create new green collar jobs; to increase the availability of fresh food in underserved communities and urban food deserts; to fight for small farmers and food producers who supply the thousands of farmers markets and CSAs across the country; and to bring healthy food and educational gardens into the public school system so that our children can grow up healthy and understand their connection to the land and the food they eat.
Make a start by signing on and adding your comments to the Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture and the new Call to Action for food system reform organized by the US Working Group on the Food Crisis.
We have a long road ahead. Together, we must ensure that good, clean and fair food is accessible to all Americans. Through our collective voice and hard work around the country, a new food system is possible.
Posted on Mon, September 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Many of us think of wine and cheese as two great tastes that go great together (like pizza and beer, milk and cookies). At Saturday night’s Taste Workshop celebrating American Raw Milk Cheeses, we were treated to something that was new for many of us—cheese with beer. Cheese expert (and Slow Food USA Board Member) Jeff Roberts and cheese expert Laura Werlin led us through the tasting of 7 cheeses and 6 craft ales.
The cheeses and their makers hailed from Alabama, Indiana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Vermont, and California; several of the producers were in the room with us and shared their processes, working with their sheep, Guernsey cows, Nubian dwarf goats etc. and crafting and shepherding (as it were) that milk into beautiful artisan cheeses. Ever seen a cheese that’s been rubbed with paprika? Hillis Peak Cheese from Pholia Farm Creamery was a first for me and I fell in love with its spicy, rich and creamy flavor. (n.b. it goes really well with Dogfish’s Midas Touch Golden Elixir).
Most surprising were the ways in which the cheeses changed in combination with the beer, and vice versa. 6 pieces of fantastic farmstead cheese + 7 diverse and delicious craft ales meant several interesting and surprising flavor combinations.
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.