What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, April 22, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Why should you plant a garden?
1. You'll have lunch and dinner in minutes. In the past week alone the NY Times has run two articles about the virtues of planting your own garden. First up was the article about Kitchen Gardeners International (whom we wrote about earlier this year), and a short history of the "victory garden." How good is this homegrown stuff ? "Like buried gold," says Barbara Damrosch, whose new gardening book just hit the shelves.
2. You can reduce your carbon footprint. Or, at the very least, do "one thing that is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards." This quote comes from the second article in the NY Times, from their "Low Carbon Catalog," in which Michael Pollan proposes a backyard garden as that "one thing."
3. All the cool kids are doing it. Slow Food Nation–Slow Food's large-scale food event being held this Labor Day in San Francisco–is planning a Victory Garden at the Civic Center. They'll be working with community gardening associations to plant a plethora of edible greenery, including seeds from the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. In mid-July, they'll have a public planting day when people who want to can come help get the shoots in the ground. More details to follow on their website.
Posted on Fri, April 18, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Some of you who are quite familiar with Slow Food and its programs, both national and international, have heard of Terra Madre ("mother earth" in Italian), and perhaps you've wondered how to participate.
Terra Madre is a large sustainable food producers conference held in Turin, Italy every two years. The next edition will be held from October 23-27, 2008. It is an opportunity for small-scale food producers from around the world to gather together to discuss the issues they all face, despite the vast differences in their cultures, economies, and topographies. Joining the farmers, cheesemakers, meat producers, etc. are cooks, academics, and some students and educators. Terra Madre, then, is not just the event, but also the network created by this event, a global network—with information-sharing tools, the means to learn from each other, and opportunities for collaboration.
If you are a food producer cook, student or educator, and you are interested in attending this conference, you can find links to online applications here. They are due April 30th, which is just around the corner.
If you are not one of those things, but you love the idea of going to Turin and exploring the ideas behind Slow Food and tasting lots of slow food, you can attend the Salone del Gusto, a public event held concurrently with Terra Madre that contains a huge market of artisanal products from around Italy, and from around the world. Tickets are not yet available, but keep checking back at the site for more information as it becomes available.
Posted on Thu, April 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Earth Day (April 22) is coming up, a welcome reminder each year that the Earth is our home and provides generation after generation with life itself. Did you know that our current food system is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases? Protecting our planet requires action by everyone, and supporting local food systems and sustainable food production will help value and protect the land that feeds us all. So what can you do?
Organic Valley, the family-farmed owned organic dairy cooperative, encourages people to host "Earth Dinners" with homemade, local food and conversation centered on the origins of what is being served. They've created a deck of conversation-starter cards to be used at Earth Day Dinners. More details and sample cards can be found on the Organic Valley web site.
If you live near one of these Slow Food Local chapters, you can participate in their Earth Day events, including:
Slow Food Monterey Bay will participate in the annual Central Coast Vineyard Team Earth Day Food & Wine festival in Santa Margarita, CA on April 19
Slow Food Huron Valley, Michigan will host Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Earth Day Commemoration on April 22, featuring speakers on sustainability, the soup kitchen's Farm Stand, and the establishment of a local monastery's organic farm. Proceeds will benefit the Soup Kitchen and Earthworks Urban Farm.
Slow Food Miami will host a Seafood Picnic in honor of Earth Day on April 27 to benefit their Pre-K school garden program.
Slow Food Spokane River's Earth Dinner at Wild Sage restaurant will connect diners to the local producers who grow their food.
Or, consider the possibility of treating it as a new year of sorts and making an Earth Day resolution. What will you do this year to help take care of the earth?
Posted on Thu, February 14, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The commercial/consumption aspects of Valentine's Day are not so slow, and yet, and yet…the "holiday" manages to hold its allure. Expressing love, eating chocolate, sharing a meal with loved one(s)–who could have a problem with that? And so, here goes our V-day round-up:
The New York Times ran an interesting article yesterday about the strain that different dietary proclivities can have on a couple. Even better? The lengthy comment debate unfolding on Serious Eats. If food is an aphrodisiac and my food makes you want to puke, what then?
Also fun to check out: the lineup on Evan Kleiman's radio show last Saturday, featuring The Sex Life of Food; Oysters as Aphodisiacs and a Chocolate Tasting. Click here to get to the show and have a listen. The FDA claims that aphrodisiacs are "folklore, " btw. But if the show leaves you in the mood for oysters and you don't believe the FDA, check out the Delaware Bay oyster (among others) on our Ark of Taste.
For some advice on "romantic cocktailing," check out the Wall Street Journal.
For a review of eco-chocolates, go to Grist.
And for those of you not feeling the love today, please consider some hearty winter BBQ and final parting words of wisdom that arrived to one of our staffers via email today:
Nothing says "I don't need a man" like pork belly and vinegary sauce.
Posted on Mon, February 11, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Nearly a month ago, Tom Philpott, over at Grist, did a tasting of several different coffees, and North Carolina-based Counter Culture coffee came out on top. These guys import coffee from the "finest, most-well-run coffee farms in the world," roast it here, and make it their mission to educate people about coffee.
Here in NYC a former Slow Food staffer (Cerise Mayo) and a former Slow Food intern (Rachel Graville) headed out to Franny's restaurant on a recent rainy morning to one of their weekly "cuppings" (coffee speak for tastings) of Counter Culture coffee. Below, they share their experiences.
Counter Culture's Director of Coffee and Co-Owner, Peter Guiliano was on hand to lead the cupping and to provide some history on the coffees cupped and Counter Culture itself.
The four coffees to be cupped were La Golindrina from Columbia, Kuta from Papau New Guinea, Linong from Sumatra, and Urgacheffe from Ethiopia. They were ground and placed in small glasses. We were walked through the process of smelling the coffee dry (aroma), smelling it once hot water had been poured over (fragrance), smelling while moving the grinds with a spoon (breaking), and (finally!) tasting. After all the tasting was done, the group reconvened to discuss the results. This was a blind tasting so the names were revealed only after the coffees were tasted and notes taken.
The Columbian coffee presented aromas of brown sugar, chocolate, and black pepper. On the palate it was bright and light with bitter chocolate and floral notes with a clean finish. The Kuta coffee smelled of red apple, which shifted more towards a savory broth with hints of overripe pear on the tongue. The Sumatran was a heavier sensation, smelling earthy, like pipe smoke and black sesame. Someone picked up clove the fragrance and Peter said that's because cloves grow in around the coffee beans on the farm where this coffee originates.
Finally, the last coffee, the Urgacheffe from Ethiopia, was the most controversial. When asked for a show of hands of who loved the coffee and who hated it, the group was split almost in half. Peter said this is indicative of his experiences tasting this coffee in the past. Some people smelled tart yogurt, others gym socks.
And from Cerise:
Following a short break for grub, Peter gave a slideshow of his 2007 travels, having spent half the year scouting and solidifying partnerships with his growers. What quickly became apparent is how the relationships that they have built over not that many years have revolutionized the coffee market—from bean to cup. Counter Culture, along with just a handful of other direct roasters, have literally transformed the landscape, as well as the business model, for how coffee is grown, processed and produced. In any part of the world, smallish sized coffee farms are usually no larger than 10 hectares, which necessitates a town or regional coffee cooperative in order to process the beans. Due to the scale and remoteness of their operations, fermentation and drying varies wildly, depending on who taught the farmer, be it a skill passed down for generations, or a random representative from a large company/government body that is not necessarily prioritizing nuance and unique flavor.
Peter said that there are many examples of growers who cannot tell him the reasoning behind why they ferment their beans for the length of time that they do, just that someone at some point came and told then that that set length of time is beneficial. They are now learning to cultivate and process differently–whether in the highlands of
Posted on Thu, January 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Cerelle Centeno
A group of foodies in Columbia, SC is in the process of creating a Slow Food convivium. In an effort to spread the word and to begin hosting events, we held a turkey tasting on December 16. The mission of the tasting, presented to us by Emile DeFelice, owner of Caw Caw Creek Farm and Slow Food USA Ark of Taste committee member, was to evaluate a standard turkey compared to a heritage breed. Emile suggested we all bring a side dish made with local ingredients and the convivium-in-the-making's first event was born.
It's an interesting challenge having to evaluate the flavor of a turkey. To submit a heritage breed – in our case, the White Holland – onto the Ark of Taste we needed to report on aroma, appearance and flavor of skin and the flavor of both the dark and white meat. We compared all of these aspects to that of a "standard bird." Both birds were cooked with the same brining process. Here's a look at the two birds photographed by our Treasurer, Jennifer Sipala – the standard is the obviously plump one on the left and the heritage bird is the svelte one on the right.
What struck us was how we're so used to the taste of the standard bird that the "earthy" taste of the heritage breed was surprising. Furthermore, we were disappointed to learn that much of the "plumpness" of a standard bird is really just water. And you can see for yourself that the heritage bird looks more like a bird.
As for the local sides, we enjoyed a couple of turnip dishes, broccoli and of course, collard greens and Carolina gold rice (actually, rice pudding made with Carolina gold – delish!). It was a wonderful afternoon spent discussing turkey, the Columbia convivium and our favorite local restaurants. We encourage anyone living in or around the Columbia area to join us for future Slow Food functions!
Posted on Wed, January 02, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Your first reading assignment for 2008, should you be looking for one: Michael Pollan's newest: In Defense of Food: an Eater's Manifesto. Pollan, a Slow Food USA Advisory Board member, felt compelled after The Omnivore's Dilemma to give his readers a how-to manual. In short: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. For the longer version (and a careful deconstruction of "nutritionism"), we recommend checking out this slim, jam-packed new volume.
For an excerpt of the book and an interview on NPR, click here.
For an extensive interview on Gourmet's website, click here.
You can also check out MP himself. His tour schedule for the months of January and February are as follows:
January 3: San Fran, City Arts and Lectures, 8 pm
January 7: Madison CT, RJ Julia Booksellers, 7 pm
January 8: NYC, 92nd Street Y, 8:15 pm
January 9: NYC, Barnes and Noble Bway and 82nd, 7 pm
January 10: Philly, White Dog Cafe, 8 am and Phila Free Library, 7 pm
January 11: Louisville, Kentucky Center, 6 pm
January 12: Cincinnatti, Joseph-Beth Bookseller, 1 pm
January 13: Iowa City, Prairie Lights, 2 pm
January 14: Milwaukee, Harry Schwartz Bookshop, 7 pm
January 15: Corte Madera, Book Passage, 7 pm
January 16: Capitola, Capitola Book Cafe, 7:30 pm
January 17: Santa Barbara, UCSB, 6 pm
January 20: San Fran, Grace Cathedral, 9:30 am
February 4: San Fran, Borders Books, 7 pm
February 7: San Fran, Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, 7 pm (co-hosted by SF Solano)
February 11: Los Angeles, Public Library, 7 pm
February 12: Portland OR, Powell's, 7 pm
February 13: Seattle, Town Hall with Univ. Bookstore, 7:30 pm
February 14: Seattle, Cooks and Books, 6 pm & 8:30 pm
Posted on Tue, November 20, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
As part of our eco-gastronomic initiative to renew and restore America's food traditions (RAFT), Slow Food USA partnered with several organizations to host 5 heritage foods picnics over the past three months. The goal of these picnics—besides good food and fun—was to introduce people around the country to some of their area's delicious and endangered foods. The guests at the picnics all partook in eater-based conservation, and some picnic goers got to listen to Gary Nabhan—author and founder of RAFT–talk about the importance of place-based foods.
The picnic series kicked off in Shelburne, Vermont, in collaboration with the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN), and was held at Shelburne Farms. It was a beautiful weekend of VFN workshops and tastings, culminating in a walk-around dinner featuring fresh, local, seasonal ingredients prepared by 20 local chef and farm partnerships in Vermont. The dishes included foods from Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste(a list of endangered foods from around the country), like the Cherokee Purple tomato and American heirloom apples, and many foods documented as endangered by the RAFT project.
The next picnic was held on the Capitol steps in Madison, Wisconsin where a buffet featuring foods from the Ark list was prepared by Slow Food Madison and Chefs Collaborative members Justin Carlisle, of Harvest Restaurant, Tory Miller, of L'Etoile and Patrick O'Halloran, from Lombardino's. Highlights included Slow roasted American Plains Bison over Carolina Gold Rice grits and a Sorghum BBQ Mulefoot pork shoulder sandwich.
Next up was Seattle! As the Slow Food Seattle invite explained:
"You bring the gear (plates and utensils, picnic blanket, etc.). We provide the vittles,"
prepared by the some of area's finest chefs including John Sundstrom (Lark), Thierry Rautureau (Rover's), Tamara Murphy (Brasa) and Fernando Divina (Tendrils). There was, of course, lots of sustainable salmon on hand including the Washington Marbled Chinook Salmon, and other Ark products such as Churro Lamb and Makah Ozette Potatoes. The cherry on the sundae? The musical stylings of the Squirrel Butter Old Time Variety Duo.
Finally, just a couple of weekends ago, Siler City North Carolina and Austin Texas joined in the fun. In North Carolina, our friends at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy celebrated their 30th anniversary with us at the Inn at Celebrity Dairy. Guests feasted on lots of meat, including Tennessee Fainting Goat meatballs, Buckeye chicken fricassee (maybe you read about the Buckeye and Chapel Hill chef Andrea Reusing in this month's Saveur?), Pineywoods beef meatloaf and roasted heritage Black turkey. We finished it off with a lovely Stayman apple cobbler and Celebrity Dairy's own goat's milk ice cream.
In Austin, the American Grassfed Association (AGA), Slow Food Austin, Chefs Collaborative, and Edible Austin Magazine worked together to produce a lively and delicious picnic in association with AGA's annual conference. Locally produced favorites included Thunderheart bison carpaccio with pecan oil, chasteberries and meyer lemon; Veldhuizen Bosque blue cheese, poached Bandera beef tongue, Toulouse goose pate with Mexican oregano, and Ossabaw Pork Fromage-de-Tete (that's "head cheese" to you). Chef Jesse Griffiths prepared the delicious dishes that were washed down with locally-brewed root beer!
If any of this makes your mouth water, consider making a meal with endangered foods for your friends and family. For tips on making meal with Ark of Taste products, click here.
Posted on Fri, November 16, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Ever looked at a market like San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Market and wondered: how did this get here? What did it take to bring this to fruition? All over the country farmers markets and other food markets are popping up. Robert LaValva, former Slow Food USA National Office staff member, has been working for nearly two years now to establish a permanent , public and sustainable market at New York City's South Street Seaport, called the New Amsterdam Market. Robert spoke with us about his process, and shared some of the challenges he has faced.
Q: Can you describe for us your vision for the market?
RL: The vision is to create an indoor permanent public market where all the vendors are people who are sourcing sustainably produced food from the region (500 miles from New York City). Our premise is that bringing together purveyors who represent farmers, will help jumpstart or create a new wave of sustainable food production. There are many interconnections that these purveyors can make—if you have a butcher and a greengrocer and a cheesemonger in the market, they can band together, bringing food down to the area on one truck. As a result, they will realize efficiencies. Farmers' markets were the beginning of this return to regional food and are one component of such a food system. Next there were chefs sourcing from local people, and now—the third wave—shops sourcing locally.
Q: How long have you been working on this project?
RL: I've been thinking about it ever since I started working for Slow Food USA 5 years ago. I saw an emerging need and Slow Food was definitely instrumental in helping shape my feelings about all this. In earnest, I began working on it in 2005, about a year and a half ago. I produced a Slow Food event called Urban Harvest and called it New Amsterdam Market —that was a test run of the idea. I put it in a magnificent civic setting: the vaulted arcade of the New York City Municipal Building, a Beaux Arts masterpiece. It was done in tribute to sustainable, regional food, and the people who grow and produce it, and those who cook and sell it - it's a broken system, and these are all real pioneers in its recovery. After that, I needed to think more thoroughly about what this market would be and think about the site that made the most sense. I began working with a friend - Jill Slater - giving a lot of thought to what the challenges would be and selecting the site of the Seaport, specifically the Fulton Fish Market, and creating a non profit – New Amsterdam Public.
Q: Where are you in the process now?
RL: We are at a stage where we have discussed the project with all of the stakeholders of the neighborhood—local community groups concerned with what will happen to the neighborhood, up to the elected officials and leaders in the sustainable food movement, and also various civic minded groups. Our main interest and concern over the past year was to walk all the political and elected representatives through these ideas. Knowing how NYC works, oftentimes people have great ideas but haven't garnered the proper support from that level, so ideas can't move forward. Now we are going forward to gather public momentum, One thing I've learned studying public markets is that they don't happen on their own, there has to be a public demand for them. Our next step is a one-day event at the Seaport in front of one of the old fish market buildings that we think should be a venue, bringing together purveyors from all parts of the city, and for one day giving the sense of what this market could or would be like. Besides creating a great event, we will be using it as a showcase for this vision.
Q: Does the city own the space?
RL: All the buildings along Fulton street and the pier holding up the shopping mall are owned by the city, but they are on a long term lease to a suburban real estate developer whose business model is to fill them as much as possible with chain stores. Our belief is that the empty fish market buildings were built to be markets, and the Seaport District hosted a constant succession of public markets since 1642 - which by all measures is a pretty long time! These markets have evolved and change according to the needs of their day. Just because the Fulton Fish Market outgrew its space doesn't mean that should be the end of markets in that neighborhood - which is a true public market district. It's just a matter of a new kind of market coming in. We feel it's the most appropriate use of that property. We want the city to understand that in this case it's a continuation of its original use.
Q: There are so many places in the country where public market buildings have been shuttered as public markets and are now turned into to condos, retail shops, etc. Cannery Row, as one example–do you know of any others? Is there a precedent for this kind of marketplace in NYC? In the country?
RL: The precedent I tend to cite is from London, where there is a market called Borough Market, because it has many similarities to what we're trying to do. It was a 200 year-old wholesale produce market (in its latest incarnation)—south of the Thames but in the heart of old London. About 10-15 years ago a lot of the wholesale traders and sellers had left so the stalls had begun to empty out. The people who run that market felt they didn't want it to die down and disappear so they began holding food festival events there. Those events grew in size and became more and more frequent and eventually transformed it into a new kind of market. It's about building momentum to build the market itself. You don't build it overnight–you have to build momentum, attract future possible purveyors, look for farms and suppliers we want to work with, etc. We are learning what is needed and what is problematic, and how to deal with those issues in an organic fashion that will lead to a solid foundation for the market itself.
Q: What have been the greatest challenges?
RL: Our greatest challenge is this: the Seaport has been a neighborhood in search of itself since it was first created as a public resource in the 1960's. Its buildings and streets are the last remnant of maritime 19th century New York. Everything was being torn down, and this little fragment was saved because it was a vital component of the city's history—the shipping history that made NYC what it is. Public markets are just as much a part of the Seaport's history as wooden ships. We believe we have a very good, viable, and appropriate vision for the Seaport—appropriate to the history, appropriate to what people are looking for in food now, and appropriate in being an incubator for small businesses for whom it has become harder and harder to survive. In the same way that farmers' markets helped save farms, we would like to save traditional professions like butchering. Our challenge is that we would like the City of New York to appreciate this vision for what it can do for New Yorkers and region, how it will provide real economic development which is never achieved via a "bottom line first" viewpoint. New York as a major world city should have something like this—there are much smaller cities that have fantastic public markets. We should have a market befitting our size and stature and if the city wants to be a leader in sustainability, this would be a logical choice.
If you are in the NYC area, please join Robert and Jill at their Wintermarket event on Sunday December 16th. For more information, see http://www.newamsterdampublic.org<./p>
Posted on Wed, November 14, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Satish Kumar, advocate for land reform, anti-nuclear activist and editor of Resurgence magazine, spoke to the delegates of the Slow Food International Congress via video feed. He shared the following South African proverb which pretty much sums up the virtues of slow-ness, the virtues of community, and their inextricable link.
'If you wish to go fast – go alone.
If you wish to far – go together.'
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.