What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, April 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Makalé Faber Cullen
This month's Harper's magazine features an excellent article by Nathanael Johnson who takes on the North American black market in raw milk and it's odd bedfellow… high tech "bio-active" dairy.
The defense of the fresh stuff (aka "green top milk") has been a steady, under-the-radar activity and a 20-year Slow Food campaign since the US Food and Drug Administration banned interstate sales of unpasteurized milk in the 1980s. Most of us, in fact, have been raised to believe pasteurization is a good thing. It protects us from salmonella and E-coli poisoning. It prolongs the shelf life of dairy products, which means more people in more places have access to them.
But as Johnson explains, it's not the fresh milk from a Holstein grazing on grass that's producing health threats. It's the other way around. To put it simply, grass-grazing cows eat in a way that allows them to produce milk containing enzymes that are often beneficial to us humans. "Dirty milk," an insider's phrase, comes from modern dairies which, in their clamor for high volume and high profit, use pasteurization as license to be unsanitary, to feed inappropriate food to cattle and engage in other unsavory activities. Ever colorful, Johnson says, "After a century of pasteurization, modern dairies, to put it bluntly, are covered in shit. Most have a viscous lagoon full of fit. Cows lie in it." And with that, Johnson navigates us through the public health thicket of industrial milk production and the volatility of raw milk markets, with regular tours through the anatomy of cattle and how we try to alter it.
The issue is far, far more complex than I've described above and Johnson remains respectably objective. Please read the article. Johnson is an entertaining writer. His piece is reference quality and yet doesn't compromise a bit on good storytelling.
I support the idea of people's right to sell and buy raw milk and raw milk products—often of finer quality since the proteins and sugars haven't been altered by heat. To reference Gil Scott Heron's potent and poignant 1971 release, The Revolution will not be Televised is to commit to taking the investigation and the story a bit further. Slow Food USA's Raw Milk Cheese Producers Association is trying to do just that –change by the producer for the producer.
While thinking about Gil Scott and the fight for justice, I'm reminded of a February post about the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. debacle. Industrial food workers, whether they're in dairies or meat packing plants deserve humane treatment as much as animals do. What's the story on dairy workers forced to put in 19-hour days in these "lagoons?"
Posted on Sun, February 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80% of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai.
Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.
At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continue to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.
That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.
Haagen-Dazs, which is owned by Nestle, said bees are actually responsible for 40% of its 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split.
Now as we all know Nestle is not exactly world renowned for its feats of environmental heroics, but when major corporations who are not "on our side" - as it were - begin to notice what environmentalists have been saying and sometimes shouting about for a long time, it means that our message is finally getting through.
Perhaps the Chicken Little accusations will subside now that the corporate apologists wives' supply of white chocolate raspberry truffle could be interrupted
Posted on Wed, January 23, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Milk can't seem to stay out of the news these past few weeks. The big stories?
Starbucks, after recently agreeing to use only rbGH-free milk, has discontinued offering organic milk. Apparently once there was no more rbGH in the milk, the primary reason for their customers to order organic had been eliminated.
Pennsylvania citizens succeeded in securing that local milk labels can identify the product as "hormone free." After Pennsylvania's October ban on letting consumers know what's what in their milk, the public spoke up. The governor ultimately had this to say: "The public has a right to complete information about how the milk they buy is produced." And based on Starbucks' feedback from customers (rbGH is gross), seems like a good idea.
California raw milk producers are upset about legislation being pushed through that puts strict — and unnecessary, they say– limits on the number of coliform per milleliter in raw milk. Likely an attempt on the part of the legislature, some think, to work towards outlawing raw milk.
Posted on Thu, December 20, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
An article in the business section of the NY Times earlier this week, about the revival of home milk delivery, got us thinking about the lost art of door-to-door guys. Interesting to note that in one of the photographs for the article, you can see that the milk is in plastic jugs, not the old fashioned (and sometimes quite beautiful) glass ones. A great example of old meets new–the revival of the old tradition, but with the accessories of new, disposable, fast life. One of the smart things about milk delivery is the recycling of the glass bottles, no?
Seltzer delivery services, on the other hand, nearly extinct, are still done in the old glass bottles with the silver nozzles. Did some searching around to see if anyone is still doing this and found two notable examples: the Seltzer Sisters in the Bay Area, and Walter Backerman, the seltzer man, of the New York Beverage Co. He is featured in this interesting piece from NPR on New York's vanishing professions.
And what about the knife sharpening guys? Who used to travel around on a truck? We've seen one here in New York City, parked around town now and then. Do you have knife sharpening guys where you live? Seltzer delivery? Glass milk bottle delivery? Let us know…
Posted on Tue, October 02, 2007 by Website Administrator
Here's what ABC News travel correspondent Phoebe Natanson had to say about Cheese, Slow Food's festival of fermentation held every odd-numbered year in Bra, Italy:
A cheese fiend since childhood, I finally found the right occasion to indulge my passion and get certified doing it! I was off to Bra to smell brie, among other delicacies, and to take a Master in Cheese course.
When I arrived in Bra on a sunny Friday morning in September, hundreds of cheeses of different shapes and forms had been carted into the town by their producers and put on display, ready to be tasted by the crowd swarming the small streets and bustling piazzas. "E` una festa!" exclaimed a local shopkeeper as I wove my way amid the stands, and a party it was, a cheese fest.
Posted on Fri, August 24, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA Board of Directors member Jeff Roberts has written the Bible of American Artisinal Cheese, and at Feast! in Charlottesville, Virginia it's received a tasty welcome…
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.–In conjunction with Jeff Roberts signing his book, "The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese," Feast! hosted a free tasting of American artisan cheeses and discussion on the importance of artisan and local food production on Aug. 23.
Following the discussion and tasting, Roberts answered questions and signed copies of his book that was available for purchase at the event. The tasting portion of the event included contributions by several of Central Virginia's food artisans including cheesemaker Gail Hobbs-Page from Caromont Farms and wine maker Gabriele Rausse from Gabriele Rausse Winery.
You can read more about it at Gourmet News
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.