What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, December 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today, December 10th, is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948—a declaration that, in its own words, establishes a “common standard of achievement” when it comes to the rights and freedoms of all people, all over the world. One especially important right, as highlighted by Frances Moore Lappé on Huffington Post, is the right to food. Do check out her post for a thoughtful exploration of how many people in the world no longer are thinking of food in this way, and in fact may be hostile to the idea of governments protecting and ensuring that right.
She assures ” In imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in human nature is required! Through most of human evolution—except for the last few thousand of roughly 200,000 years—Homo sapiens lived in societies where pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, “especially among unrelated individuals,” humans are unique, writes authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers, Michael Gurven. Except in times of extreme privation, when some eat, all eat.”
An important day then for Lappé and for us to bring your attention to the recent victory achieved by recent Terra Madre delegates, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group we have featured here on the blog several times before, highlighting their efforts (and successes!) in getting fast food companies to raise their payment per pound of tomatoes by one penny in order to improve working conditions for tomato pickers in Florida. Last week, on December 3rd, in the midst of CIW’s national tour to protest Subway’s refusal to sign an agreement with them, Subway signed! And not just for tomatoes; they have agreed to apply the price increase to their entire supply chain.
To honor the incredible work that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is doing, CIW’s Lucas Benitez will be the honored guest at the Small Planet Fund’s fundraiser in NYC this evening.
Posted on Mon, November 24, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
When it comes to food policy, Bloombergian New York City has already made a high profile name for itselfas the banner of transfats, as the litigious fighter for restaurants to list calories on the menu. In short, it has been known of late as the food police, bringing an end to all fat-inducing joys.
Last Wednesday morning, in front of a crowd of several hundred urban farmers, hunger fighters, nutritionists, sustainable food advocates, policy wonks, urban planners, city governmental types, and concerned citizens Mayor Bloomberg admitted he has a weakness for vices of Cheez-its and Coffee; his presence at and support for NYC’s first “Food Politics” conference was notable not just for his personal food preference revelations, but also for the statement it made about where food fits into NYC’s plans going forward. If Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has his way, food access, nutrition, and urban/rural food and farm partnerships will be the hallmark of NYC’s food policy, with transfat bans and sodium reduction plans just one piece of a more nuanced puzzle.
After additional opening statements by the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel DiScoto, the Center for Social Inclusion’s Maya Wiley, and The New School’s Thomas Forster, the conference broke into 7 tracks. There were four of us SFUSA staff members there, and we each hit different sessions, trying to glean as much as we could.
For the complete program, including all 7 breakout sessions, please click here.
For more coverage of this event, check out CivilEats.com.
Posted on Sat, November 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
As weve mentioned here on the blog before, one of the main obstacles for sustainable small to mid scale meat producers in this country right now is a lack of infrastructure to help them get their meat to customers. Gone are the smaller, more localized meat processing facilities of old, meaning producers are having to travel extremely far (using costly gas and stressing their animals). Some, like Will Harris of White Oak Pastures Cattle Ranch, near Atlanta, actually have facilities nearby that are too small for them (mid-sized facilities are extremely hard to come by).
Harris, and some otherssuch as Stan Schutte (and his son Ryan, a Terra Madre 2008 delegate) in Central Illinois, are taking matters into their own hands by building facilities right on their own properties. Harris facility opened this past spring and last month Slow Food members in Atlanta went out to spend time at his farm and see the new facility.
Slow Food Regional Governor Julie Schaffer reports:
On Sat,. Oct. 4th, people from Georgia, Florida and Alabama gathered at White Oak Pastures Cattle Ranch in Bluffton, GA for a meat summit sponsored by Florida A&M University, Georgia Organics and Slow Food Atlanta. Jennifer Taylor, from FAMU’s Small Farm Program, organized the event for small meat farmers all over the southeast, as part of their outreach program. There were several speakers including Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures, Suzanne Welander from Georgia Organics, and myself (from Slow Food Atlanta and Emory University). Attendees discussed problems common to all small meat farmers, and shared success stories. It was a great opportunity for networking, and learning from one another. Processing issues seemed to be a stumbling block for many of the producers, and Will shared his story about how a dream to have an on-site processing facility became a reality. We toured the processing facility and enjoyed a delicious lunch of chili, stew and cornbread provided by Avalon Catering in Atlanta. I think people left the meeting with some great new ideas about how to grow their businesses, and grateful for the opportunity to share stories and discuss issues.
Posted on Thu, November 13, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Cecily Upton
If we’re ever going to meet the rising demand for good, clean and fair food, we’re going to need new farmers. Lots of em. And these new farmers are going to have to do things a little bit differently from the generation before them.
With a sea change happening in the agricultural sector, and with many young farmers making a commitment to the land with little or no farming experience, how will they learn the skills necessary to produce enough food for growing demand?
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture has one answer. They’re organizing a Young Farmers Conference, where young and new farmers can learn the skills they need. From seed to market, workshops will cover the basics of getting started within the context of our global food system.
Young Farmers Conference, December 4 and 5, 2008
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
Check out the full list of conference workshops
Photo by Michael Moran
Posted on Mon, November 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Ariane Lotti
At the closing ceremony of Terra Madre, a spontaneous protest broke out. As a pre-recorded message by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, played on-screen, delegates in the audience stood and turned their backs on him.
For four days, thousands of producers, cooks, students, activists and academics from 153 countries shared stories, exchanged information and compared notes on topics ranging from starting a school garden and producing quality honey to using agro-ecological principles to address climate change and finding ways to make food more affordable while paying farmers a fair price.
During those four days, it was impossible to meet someone not doing something really cool and unique. In line for lunch, I met a Kenyan woman who started an organization that educates street girls about organic farming and environmental conservation and connecting them with farmers in need of these services. At lunch another day, I sat across from a man who works with indigenous communities in North America and uses permaculture techniques to establish food security in those communities. On the bus, I sat next to two young farmers from Oregon who have run a Community-Supported Agriculture farm for three years and are beginning to experiment with ways to be completely energy self sufficient.
Apart from the informal and spontaneous conversations with people, there were workshops and regional meetings where delegates spoke about how they had started an urban community garden, gotten sustainably-grown food in schools and cafeterias, and achieved a wage raise for farmworkers against political, economic, and cultural odds. All these stories shared a narrative: there were problems in my community; I believed things could be different and better; and I worked to translate that belief into a reality.
Posted on Thu, November 06, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Theres still a buzz on the streets todayits the buzz of huge voter turnout, of citizen investment, of millions of Americans throwing their hats in the ring.
What better time for Slow Food USA to in the words of our Executive Director Erika Lesser at the US Meeting at Terra Madreget political?
Theres a lot to report from Slow Foods most recent edition of Terra Madre, a gathering of food communities from around the world, but today Ill start with a report back on the US meeting. This gathering of over 800 food producers, cooks, students, and educators from around the country was the one opportunity at the conference for the US to discuss our agenda, our platform for moving forward into what is proving to be a new dawn. The agenda was laid out by Erika Lesser and our new President, Josh Viertel, in his first public address in his new position.
As discussed in yesterday’s post, our agenda: Building a future food system.
How are we going to do this?
Viertel put forth an emphasis on fostering youth involvement and development, as well as a strong cry for promoting and supporting Food Justice (the vexing conundrum of paying farmers a fair wage while also making sure that food is affordable to all).
The next Food and Farm Bill needs us; urban farms need us. And heyits official now: Barack Obama needs us. More specifically, he needs to hear from us, and part of our plan moving forward is to figure how to say what we need to say, and how to make sure its heard. As mentioned yesterday, you can add your voice to the Declaration for Health Food and Agriculture and the US Working Group on the Food Crisis Call to Action.
For a wide array of coverage, and an outside perspectiveeverything from the speakers, to the food, to the waterplease check out:
And over the next couple weeks, well share the words of farmers, cooks and activists who shared their stories and visions for the future of our food system at Terra Madre.
Posted on Thu, October 30, 2008 by Nathan Leamy
This Sunday at Back Forty restaurant, Jeff Lydon, Chef Peter Hoffman (Savoy and Back Forty), Hilary Baum (founder, Baum Forum), Francine Stephens (owner, Frannys Pizza) and Slow Food USA invite you to celebrate the third anniversary of the Betsy Lydon Ark Award and 2008 award recipients, Brian Campbell and Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Seeds/Uprising Organics.
While enjoying seasonal, locally sourced foods over brunch, Jeff will share the history and background of the award and introduce Brian and Crystine, who just got back from a fantastic week at Terra Madre 08.
Founded three years ago in Washington State, Uprising Seeds/Uprising Organics is a regional, organic seed company and fresh vegetable CSA farm that grows Ark of Taste produce and makes it available to all members of their community, regardless of income. To do this, they earmark roughly 75 percent of their CSA shares for families that receive food stamps. They also consult with farms nationwide to help them initiate Food Stamp CSA programs of their own.
Sundays brunch event will help to raise awareness and funds for the future of the Betsy Lydon Ark Award, and share the inspiring work of Uprising Seeds.
When: This Sunday, November 2nd
Where: Back Forty Restaurant 190 Avenue B at 12th Street, Manhattan
Price: $50/person for two course family style brunch, coffee and one drink (includes tax and tip)
RSVP: Space is limited to 35 people, so please RSVP by 5pm, Friday October 31st, to
If you cannot attend (or are too busy campaigning), but would like to contribute to the Award fund, please call Slow Food USA at 718-260-8000 or visit Slow Food USA.
Posted on Tue, October 21, 2008 by Nathan Leamy
by 2008 Terra Madre delegate Ariane Lotti
At Terra Madre, lets strategize to overcome the challenges to growing a good, clean, and fair agriculture.
After a stint spent working for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on the 2008 Farm Bill, I decided to spend some quality time in the Ground Zero of government-supported, conventional commodity agriculture: Rural Iowa, USA.
New to the land of corn and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), I knew my mission was two-fold. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the system that reportedly produces the cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world. I also wanted to find the points of resistance and weakness where the alternatives to a high-input, low-diversity production agriculture flourish.
For four months, I lived and worked on a farm five miles down a gravel road from the nearest town and eleven miles from the nearest internet connection. While I spent my spare time visiting CAFOs, riding in combines, going to county fairs, and driving down dusty roads, I farmed full-time for Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf of One Step at a Time Gardens in North Central Iowa.
Posted on Tue, October 14, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Kate Evanishyn
As you can imagine, we like to eat well here in the Brooklyn offices of Slow Food USA. Generally, we gather around our communal table around 1:00, reading the paper, doing the Times crossword (it’s a group effort) and eating whatever we happen to bring that day. A few times a year, however, we like to organize a staff potluck, usually timed with a guest.
Marion Nestle is coming for lunch tomorrow, and we’re completely excited, talking about who’s bringing what all day and thrilled that we’ll have the chance to spend some time with one of our heroes. For my part, I thought a frittata would be a good addition to the mix of roasted root vegetables, autumn salads, tasty deserts and more. But the last thing I expected was a kitchen mishap. Or in my case, an explosion. My ceramic and supposedly direct flame safe casserole shattered in a volcanic showing of egg, cheese, chorizo and pottery.
I have a back up, but that was supposed to be tonight’s dinner. I’ve got to admit, I’m really concerned about how to scrape egg off the ceiling. The gruyere is like glue.
Posted on Wed, October 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Julia De Martini Day
What will you be eating this Halloween? Is your candy Good, Clean, and Fair?
Slow Food USA has partnered with Global Exchange to spread the word about where our chocolate comes from on Halloween night with Reverse Trick-or-Treating. Last Halloween, thousands of children, students, parents and others gave Fair Trade chocolate BACK to the households who gave them candy while Trick-or-Treating. This year, we hope to reach a quarter of a million households across the country in an effort to further awareness about where our food comes from and how it is produced.
While Fair Trade does not address all hardships faced by farmers abroad, its goals are to provide a better price and support sustainable agricultural development. A good resource for reading more about Fair Trade is on the Fair Trade Federation website.
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.