What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, June 09, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
Last Friday, nearly 500 chefs from 37 states, all dressed in their whites, convened on the White House lawn for the launch of the “Chefs Move to Schools” program. The new program is part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. Here is the video and transcript of the First Lady’s remarks and coverage of the event in the Washington Post.
Mrs. Obama is calling on chefs to get involved in the effort by adopting a local school where they will work with parents, teachers, school nutrition professionals, and administrators to educate kids about food and nutrition and improve school meals. Nearly 1000 chefs and 500 schools have already signed up for Chefs Move to Schools. You can see a map of participating chefs and schools here or sign up to participate on the USDA website.
Earlier in the day, the chefs heard experts speak about school food policy and the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization at a breakfast hosted by Share our Strength. They also toured the White House kitchen garden. Many celebrity chefs and American culinary luminaries were in attendance, bringing their star power to the First Lady’s initiative. By creating healthy dishes that taste good, chefs have a unique ability to show children that cooking and eating healthy foods are both cool and fun.
Some kids have already been inspired by the Let’s Move campaign. Georgia and Michael are nine-year-old twins who love to cook and are collecting 1000 healthy recipes from kids all over the country to send to Mrs. Obama. They want to show kids that they can learn to cook and make healthy choices for themselves. Here’s their YouTube video and their website where you can learn more about their project, Kids Cook USA.
Posted on Tue, June 08, 2010 by Slow Food USA
The oil situation in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening an entire culture on Louisiana’s coastline. Along every step of the food chain—from fisherman to chef to impassioned eaters like me—there is fear of the unknown. Until the oil gusher is stopped, none of us can tell what the future holds.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Slow Food Ark of Taste committee made an emergency boarding of Gulf seafood that seemed the most threatened at that time. Louisiana oysters and wild-caught Gulf shrimp were welcomed onto the Ark of Taste along with the New Orleans poor boy bread that they are so often served on.
Today, countless varieties of Gulf fin fish are hugely threatened, including lynchpins of our local menus like speckled trout and redfish. Our gumbo crab, the Louisiana blue crab, which is found both in the Gulf and in our brackish waterbodies like Lake Pontchartrain, could be wiped out by the intrusion of oil into our estuary marshes.
Since the oil disaster began, I have heard from Slow Food friends across the United States who ask, “How can we help?” The single best way to assist your food friends of the Gulf is to EAT GULF SEAFOOD.
Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 by Intern
by intern Shauna Nep
As anyone in my life will attest to, I talk a lot about the benefits of a neighborhood farm for a community. However, it is not often that I have the opportunity to contribute hands-on to the creation of one.
Fortunately- I had the chance to get my hands deep in the dirt last Friday as I joined an inspired and diverse group of volunteers in building a Neighborhood Farm at Ujima Community Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Slow Food NYC has adopted the Ujima garden, which has become overrun with inhospitable weeds, to create a youth farm.
Sandra Mclean, Slow Food NYC’s Leadership Committee Chair, shared with us their plan for the farm, which includes a spiral vegetable bed (um- awesome!), a flagstone meeting area surrounded by a “Three Sisters Garden”, a chicken coop, bees, and even bean teepees that are big enough to crawl inside of. Slow Food NYC will use this amazing space to host a “Good Food and Gardens” program this summer, and WATCH high school students will care for it in the fall.
As we spent the day cutting brush, digging out stumps, clearing rocks and chopping down trees, I was mindful of how my small role would contribute to the big picture: the creation of a farm and a beautiful space to be used, enjoyed, and cared for by the community.
I cannot wait to see how it turns out.
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 Wed, May 26, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Christine Binder
On Friday, May 7th, Congressional Representative Michael Arcuri stood in the lunch line and thanked the school lunch ladies for his meal along with the 5th grade classes at the Martin Luther King Elementary School in Utica, NY.
Last month, Debra Richardson, co-chair of Slow Food Mohawk Valley, spoke to students at the school about fruits and vegetables and led them in a letter writing activity in support of the Time for Lunch Campaign to help school serve healthier food. They wrote to Representative Arcuri on paper plates, asking for “healthy fresh food” full of “nutrients and vitamins” to “help make them strong.”
Representative Arcuri’s visit was in response to these letters. While at MLK Elementary, he sat down in the cafeteria to talk and eat lunch with the students, which included a healthy, locally-made butternut squash cookie. The Congressman was also shown the recently donated refrigerator that houses a daily delivery of fresh fruits or vegetables to serve as a snack through a grant from the Department of Defense.
According to Richardson, “that donation shows how a community can, in part, address its own needs. Now what we need from our Congressional representatives is their attention on the upcoming legislative actions and to fully fund the Child Nutrition Act. That can make a real difference on their end.”
Posted on Wed, May 26, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Rike Weiss
Tucked away in the foothills of the Ko`olau mountain range on the lush windward side of O`ahu, the apiary and honey house in Wai`ahole Valley were the destination for a Slow Food group of about 15. Not equipped with enough veil beekeeper suits, we did not visit the actual hives, but had the opportunity to observe bees at work in a single frame in the honey house.
Three years ago the Varroa mite that has spread, infested, and killed bee colonies around the world over the past century, arrived on O`ahu and devastated the Wai`ahole colonies. Bee keepers George Hudes and Charlie Reppun almost gave up in despair. We breathed a collective sigh of relief to learn that, thanks to the availability of organic mite control methods, not only are they back in production, but production throughout the state is flourishing. Our food supply, for now, is secured.
While tasting a variety of honeys in an astounding range of colors—from palest straw color to dark auburn—our group heard about the basics of bee keeping. The gestation cycle from egg to full-fledged female worker bee is 21 days, 24 days for males or drones, and 16 days for queens. Once hatched, worker bees fulfill multiple functions: from cleaning and comb building to feeding larvae and serving their queen. After four weeks in the hive, they’re ready to leave and start foraging, collecting pollen and nectar from the abundance of plants in the fertile valley.
As soon as the honey combs are filled, the frames are removed, uncapped (removal of the outer was layers), and placed in a centrifuge for extraction. From there, the honey is transferred to a settling tank, where impurities float to the top. After about 12 hours, the untreated, unfiltered honey is ready for bottling. It was impossible to determine clear favorites among the assortment of honeys for sale. Spring harvests tended to be lighter in color and taste. Many of us left with numerous jars from smoky-tasting ochre colored honey to the late-harvest fall variety.
Posted on Fri, May 07, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Gida Snyder, head of the SFOC chapter at Kapiolani Community College
Mana `Ai means “power food” in Hawaiian and is both the business name and the philosophy of a family run company on the island of Oahu specializing in hand-pounded taro or pa`i`ai, (essentially poi before water is added to thin it out.)
Daniel Anthony, Mana `Ai’s founder, believes the nourishment of pa`i`ai is two-fold; the nutritional health benefit of eating pa`i`ai and the empowerment fostered by keeping a community in touch with the ancient food-making traditions of ku`i kalo (pounding taro.) Recently the Slow Food on Campus chapter at Kapiolani Community College had the hands on opportunity to experience the process of making pa`i`ai.
Under Daniel’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable direction, we learned that each step in the taro pounding process is of equal importance. Even before cooking the taro we were shown how to properly pick the leaves from the ti plant, prepare our equipment and stay as clean as possible to avoid transferring bacteria to the pa`i`ai. We then helped cook the taro by steaming it in a pressure cooker lined with ti and banana leaves. We learned the techniques for cleaning the taro, preparing it to be pounded using mortars made of lava rock on smooth carved koa wood boards.
As day became evening, the community center began to fill up with local families there to make their own pa`i`ai and poi for the week. The atmosphere was warm and lively with kids running around while the adults talked story and pounded. Our group shared the pounding of 15lbs of taro, learning quickly that it is NOT as easy as it appears. It takes a strong arm, a steady rhythm and an understanding of the soon sticky mass of pounded taro to make it a uniform and smooth texture. The experience left many of us with a desire to learn more about the many uses of pa`i`ai and to become more proficient at pounding it. We were invited back to the weekly gathering and will be attending a ku`i kalo as a chapter again soon.
Posted on Fri, April 30, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Yonatan Landau
Think of the last time you saw something that pissed you off enough to do something amazing about it. Maybe it was a long grocery line or a bumper sticker for the Tea Party, or maybe it takes a humanitarian crisis like Haiti to really get your adrenaline going.
For me, it was orange chicken.
A year ago, I found out that UC Berkeley’s first national fast food chain, a Panda Express, was slated to open its doors adjacent to the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Like Slow Food in reaction to a McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome, we rose to the occasion.
We dredged up some surprising details (all Panda’s menu items except steamed rice are over 50% fat; even their steamed veggies are cooked in meat) and drew hundreds of students to protest. We also gave the administration something they could say yes to: we raised over $100,000 for a student-run café and sustainability hub. The administration eventually rejected the chain, and the Berkeley Student Food Collective was born.
Now, this summer, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed) will train student leaders on campuses around Northern California to create local, organic, community-run cafes on their campuses. Imagine students hosting fermentation workshops and panels of local food movement leaders in the same space that they and their friends buy an affordable, organic salad and fair trade coffee for lunch (check out the lovely Sprouts Cafe in Vancouver or the raucous Maryland Food Collective).
A best-practices business plan for a financially sustainable platform for campus food movement organizing - a community-run cafe.
A support network of food system stakeholders and activists dedicated to a just and sustainable food system. CoFed is has formed alliances with these organizations: Slow Food on Campus, Slow Money, Real Food Challenge, FeelGood, Food Coop 500, California Students for Sustainability Coalition, The Food Alliance, United Farm Workers, Veritable Vegetable, The California Center for Cooperative Development, Hazon, Thanksgiving Coffee.
An intensive, peer-based training: June 15-20th, CoFed will host an intensive boot camp in Northern California, bringing together students from all around the West Coast. Participants will be mentored by local farmers and chefs, create a plan for their campus food co-op, and build their project teams.
Posted on Thu, April 22, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I drove from the Columbus OH airport towards Athens, I passed a billboard that read “Every day is Earth Day for a farmer.” A dairy barn on my left, fields on my right. I was headed into the home of the pawpaw, a locavore hub, where community gardening is thriving, and food producers are local celebrities.
I was there to be part of Earth Month festivities at Ohio University, having been invited by their sustainability coordinator, Sonia Marcus. I realized that a few years ago, food would not have been part of the conversation on Earth Day, and it’s a marker of how far we’ve all come that we recognize that food—the production and transportation of which have a massive impact on our ecosystem—is an essential part of any sustainability conversation. Ohio University was amongst the first to have a position called “sustainability coordinator” and they are doing a great job of all kinds of things, including robust programming and education, as well as composting all the food waste on campus.
It was a super fun day during which I visited an Environmental Journalism class, participated in a round table lunch discussion, chatted with a News Writing class, and gave a talk focused on Building Online Communities in the food movement (subtitle: “how does twitter help grow food?”). We talked slow food, GMOs, potlucks, Jamie Oliver, blogging….and on and on. One student asked me what my professors taught me about blogging and I had to explain that when I was in college there was no such thing as a blog. Nothing like undergrads to make you feel old!
I really enjoyed talking with the students, and having the opportunity to reflect upon my writing, and how it ended up being the foundation for allowing me to “become”/call myself a writer. In thinking about these things, and in being asked to answer smart questions, I came up with answers that surprised me sometimes.
Professor Hans Meyer covered my talk here. My main takeaway: every time I see a photo of myself giving a talk, that is what I am doing with my hands. Also, n.b. that his students were assigned to live tweet my talk, and I really enjoyed reading their commentary once the talk was done. You can read the comments here. If the link doesn’t work, do a search on twitter for #oj314.
I talked about the ability of social media to bring people together into online communities, all in the service of eventually getting people to have face to face interactions. In the end I addressed the conundrum of slow food and the fast pace of social media—aren’t they a contradiction? In many ways, yes. And I do think that the lightning speed of things like twitter run counter to some tenets of the slow food movement. However, it is also a tool that be used to bring larger numbers and further connectivity to the people in the food movement, and therefore larger strength to the movement itself. For me, it’s about balance, knowing when to step away from the keyboard, and put the iphone down and sit down at the table, face to face with my community.
Posted on Thu, April 15, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debra Eschmeyer
When President Obama established a “Presidential task force on childhood obesity” in February, Grist’s Tom Laskawy wondered whether our nation’s first federal food policy council had quietly sprung into being. In a food policy council, the key stakeholders of a region’s food system come together to assess the current food situation and envision ways it might be improved. Food policy councils are a growing phenomenon at the state and municipal level, but such a thing had never existed before at the national level. Does it now?
Well, last week I had the honor of attending the new task force’s White House Childhood Obesity Summit, and it certainly had the flavors of a food policy council: an array of food-policy players across agencies gathered to discuss a key symptom of a food system gone off the rails: childhood obesity.
The task force was charged with developing and submitting to the President in 90 days an interagency plan that “details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan.” As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, the task force is engaging both public and private sectors with the primary goal of helping children become more active and eat healthier within a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.
Feeding our children better may look at first glance like a softball issue for the first lady; but the Ms. Obama is actually in the opening stages of what looks like a long and complicated fight. but as Time put it:
“If this sounds like a political fight, well, it is. Michelle Obama may be tilling nonpartisan ground with her vegetable garden and child-obesity program, but food has long been political. From soda taxes to corn subsidies, food is about health care costs, environmentalism, education, agriculture and class.”
[to read the rest of this post, go to Grist, by clicking here.
Debra Eschmeyer is an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food & Society Fellow and the communications and outreach director of the National Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. While she continues her passion for organic farming on her fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, she currently plows with her pencil from Washington, DC. ]
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.