What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, April 13, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
About 2 months ago the NY Times ran a piece on Crop Mobs in the Chapel Hill, NC area, describing it as a “monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon.” The food movement got giddy with excitement. Within a week or so, a CropMobNYC group popped up on Facebook and I signed on up.
This past Sunday 4 Crop Mobs were scheduled for four different urban farms around town. I went to Bed-Stuy Farm, where 20 of us met with the generous and inspiring Rev. Robert Jackson and Rev. DeVanie Jackson. We tilled, and clipped, composted and shoveled, hammered and sawed. Also we broke for snacks and ate DeVanie’s homemade fig jam from last season’s figs.
Participant and food filmmaker Liza De Guia made a short video (featuring SFUSA staffer Gordon Jenkins—checkitout)—click here to view.
We brought our own work gloves, our own water bottles, and our own lunch. I left the house in a hurry, throwing together this curried chicken salad quickly, with what I had on hand—kind of like the Crop Mob itself.
Curried Chicken Salad
Leftover roast chicken, cut into chunks
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 tbsp raisins, dark or golden
1 cup farm-fresh yogurt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 shake cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together all ingredients except the chicken, celery and raisins
Then add the rest and stir well
[this piece first appeared on my blog, Eat Here 2]
Posted on Thu, April 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Damara Luce, Just Harvest USA
This April 16-18, you can join farmworkers, their families, and their allies as they take the movement for farmworker justice to the streets and call on the Publix supermarket chain—one of the largest private corporations in the country, with 2009 sales of $25 billion—to end the human rights crisis in Florida’s fields!
FARMWORKER FREEDOM MARCH
Freedom from forced labor, poverty and abuse
FRIDAY, APRIL 16 SUNDAY, APRIL 18
Tampa to Lakeland, FL
Workers and their allies will march over 20 miles from downtown Tampa to Publix headquarters in Lakeland. The march will culminate in a rally and concert in Munn Park in downtown Lakeland on Sunday, April 18.
The phenomenal Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum will also be on exhibit at the rally in Munn Park. The Museum’s centerpiece is a cargo truck, outfitted as a replica of trucks involved in the latest farmworker slavery operation. That very truck will symbolically and powerfully lead the march from Tampa to Lakeland as we call on and end, once and for all, to slavery in the fields.
Please visit the Farmworker Freedom March site for more information.
If you can’t make it, you can still email the CEO of Publix to express your opposition to their purchasing decisions. CLICK HERE.
Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for the corporate food industry are among the country’s worst paid, least protected workers. They labor for sub-poverty wages that have not changed significantly in 30 years, are excluded from basic labor and human rights, and, in the most extreme cases, face conditions of actual modern-day slavery, forced to work against their will through threats and violence. There have been seven federally-prosecuted cases of forced labor in Floridas fields since 1997, involving a total of over 1,000 workers.
Posted on Fri, April 02, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Marion Rockwood, Slow Food Oberlin Leader
On Monday, March 22, Slow Food Oberlin hosted a campus-wide event called Cheese 101, featuring a local farmer: Abbe Turner. Turner, a Slow Food Terra Madre delegate in 2008, is also the milkmaid at Lucky Penny Farm and the cheese maker at Lucky Penny Creamery in Portage County, Ohio. She came to campus to talk about her family farm goat dairy, women in agriculture, and how to make and enjoy cheese.
Lucky Penny Farm is an opportunity for Turners family to live out its ideals of tradition, simplicity, and sustainability in cooperation with the land and animals. She emphasized how important the farm has been to her and offered to advise any audience members who wanted to get started in agriculture.
Cheese making is becoming increasingly popular in todays do-it-yourself kitchen and Turner sought to elucidate the process. She explained the cheese-making experience in detail and left a lot of audience members excited to try it in their own kitchens.
Turner generously brought samples of her chevre, feta, and award-winning sweet Cajeta caramel sauce, along with artisan offerings from other Ohio producers. Audience members received a plate and Turner moved with them through each cheese, providing some background and encouraging them to choose their own words to describe the tastes they experienced.
The event brought community members together with college students and fueled the ongoing conversation about sustainable food systems. Next year, Slow Food Oberlin hopes to replicate the successful event with a hands-on cheese-making workshop with Turner.
Posted on Thu, April 01, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Lila Wilmerding
This morning foodservice corporation Aramark signed a significant agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). In a joint statement, the two parties announced that Aramark has decided to pay a 1.5-cent premium for every pound of tomatoes picked, with the premium to be distributed directly to harvesters. In combination with other conditions of the agreement, this is a great step towards fairer wages and labor conditions on US farms.
Aramarks pledge is the eighth agreement that has resulted from the Student Farmworker Alliances Dine with Dignity campaign. Sodexo is the only major food service provider yet to sign. Now that the four biggest fast-food companies and two biggest food service companies have made agreements with the CIW, supermarkets will hopefully be the next to follow suit.
The agreement comes at an exciting time for the CIW, as their Farmworker Freedom March (a 22-mile march between Tampa and Lakeland, FL from April 16-18) is quickly approaching.
Posted on Fri, March 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
Over 100 school food service directors, community activists, and government agency partners will convene at the second Annual Meeting of the organization School Food FOCUS in Chicago on March 25-27, 2010.
School Food FOCUS supports the nations largest urban school districts in their efforts to procure more healthful, more sustainably produced and regionally sourced food. FOCUS was developed in response to a call by urban school districts to transform the quality of school food. The organization is also driven by a recognition that improving the meal service in large school districts with major purchasing power can go a long way towards improving the food system nationwide.
The keynote speaker of next weeks conference is Jan Poppendieck, author of the new book Free For All: Fixing School Food in America (We reviewed it on this blog last month). The meeting will also feature the first Real School Food Showcase - a selection of carefully chosen chicken, whole grain and other food products available for institutional purchasing that strive to meet FOCUS criteria for more healthful, local, and sustainable.
The meeting will highlight demonstrated successes in sourcing local and nutritious school food. There will be a conversation with USDA officials, giving participants the chance to learn more about the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program and the upcoming Childhood Nutrition Act.
This is seriously good timing for talking about school lunch. Senator Blanche Lincoln just introduced her draft of the Child Nutrition Act, and the Agriculture Committee will begin marking it up on March 24. Slow Food USA is asking legislators to invest in healthier food, strengthen nutrition standards and link schools to local farms click here to learn how you can help.
[photo, from Fed up with school lunch]
Posted on Mon, March 15, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Robin Kerber, CIA Student and volunteer with Slow Food Hudson Valley
As I sat in the car, waiting for my friends, I was thinking about a recipe for winter barley vegetable soup: butternut squash, roasted beets, celeriac, and barley. After spending all day making pastries in class, nothing sounded more satisfying than a bowl of warm soup made with fresh, local ingredients. But I wasnt making the soup for me. I was about to travel to the Mount Kisco Child Care Center to help with a friendly Iron Chef whole grains themed competition.
The first time that wesix students from the Culinary Institute of Americahad traveled to Mount Kisco to plan our meal with the kids, I had had no idea what to expect. What do children know about cooking let alone designing a dish? It turns out they know a lot. At least the children of The Mount Kisco Child Care Center do. They have their own edible schoolyard, which produces a huge variety of fresh fruits and veggies.
My friends and I arrived with our knives sharpened and our whisks in hand. My team came up with a recipe that sounded delicious and hearty, with flavors like thyme and parsley. Im fairly certain I didnt know what thyme was until I was much older than these kids but the experience made me realize that something remarkable was spreading slowly but surely across the nation: initiatives to teach children how to live sustainably. The children were gathered around a table, carefully cutting vegetables into chunks. We immediately got to work in the kitchen, helping the excited children prepare a tasty meal. And, as dinner - time rolled around, the Center was packed with friends, family, and local purveyors.
Many of the courses featured wheat, oats, and cornmeal that were grown and milled in the Hudson Valley. Local honey sweetened whole wheat bread and polenta with I&Me Farm pea shoots setting the stage for a fantastic meal. My teams vegetable barley soup and an entrée of quinoa pilaf with local apples helped make the meal a celebration of winter flavors. By the time apple crumble was served, the consensus was clear: local food is simply great. But it wasnt just the food that made the night unforgettable. It was the feeling that we were working as a unified group, rather than as individuals. By the end of the evening, most would have to agree that life feels more meaningful when you understand the connection between land, food, and community.
Final words from the Mt. Kisco Child Care Center kids-Stephanie, Paulina, Sabrina, Vincent, Benji, Emily, Sam, Nitza, Jocelyn, Emma, Clara and Zachery aged 5-11:
“Everyone got to practice their knife skills. We ran back and forth from harvesting fresh pea shoots to the busy kitchen. Yummy taste of peas.”
“This was our second iron chef competition and it was fun. All we ask is: When can we do it again? Growing and cooking are the best. It makes everyone so happy.”
“Maybe well go to school to become chefs one day, but even if we dont, well be healthy eaters.”
Posted on Wed, March 10, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice will hold the first of five workshops to determine whether a handful of food and farming companies are exercising monopoly control over the industry. This is a big deal. If the Dept. finds that companies like Monsanto are violating antitrust law, regulators could move to break up the companies in order to protect farmers and consumers from further harm.
Fridays workshop takes place in Ankeny, IA, near Des Moines. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney will speak on a panel, as will a selection of crop and livestock farmers from around the country. (The farmers were added at the last-minute amidst outcries that a workshop about agriculture didnt feature any actual farmers.) Other panels will feature a Monsanto Vice President, a former President of the Iowa Soybean Association and a representative from the organization Food & Water Watch.
Farmer and consumer groups who are concerned that the Justice Dept. workshop is bent towards corporate special interests are organizing a Peoples Antitrust Hearing in Ankeny on the evening prior. At the event, Iowa farmers and community leaders will share their perspective on how food company monopolies lead to higher food prices and lower farmer profits.
In December, Slow Food USA joined other groups in asking the public to submit comments to the Justice Dept. The DoJ reported receiving over 15,000 comments, and has begun posting them online.
Posted on Tue, March 09, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Emily Dagostino, Slow Food Chicago volunteer
Wee toddlers scribbling in crayon, kids and teenagers tuned into the trouble with today’s school lunches, and parents advocating for the well-being of their children were among dozens of Windy City denizens who penned letters at a recent event asking Congress for increased funding for school lunches.
It was great, says Slow Food Chicago board member Ryan Kimura. We received about 40 letters, but I felt the impact was stronger than that. Sara Gasbarra, Green City Market Sprouts Program Chair, agreed: I think the event was a total success!
Green City Market and Slow Food Chicago teamed up to sponsor the Kids Write to Eat event on February 27 as part of a ramping up of outreach efforts for the Time for Lunch Campaign that began with Slow Food Chicagos annual meeting in January. Since then, dozens of volunteers have emerged ready and excited to help spread the word. Teachers have approached Green City Market and Slow Food Chicago about bringing the letter-writing campaign back to their classrooms, and volunteers have redoubled efforts to reach out to like-minded organizations in the Chicago area to find new ways to tell our collective story.
In the next week or so, representatives from Slow Food Chicago, Green City Market and Common Threads plan to hand-deliver the kids (and parents) letters to the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. They hope to use the meeting to discuss with the senators staff why childhood nutrition and healthy lunches are a priority and to request the senators support.
In the letters, 6-year-old Alyssa, 7-year-old Quinton and 13-year-old Taisha asked Congress to please serve healthy food in their schools. Not only would it help them concentrate but it gets you going at recess, Quinton wrote.
Posted on Mon, March 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
What can one Slow Food chapter, one local school, a Whole Foods Market, and a Renegade Lunch Lady get done together? Just ask Slow Food Urban San Diego, who just spent two jam-packed days advocating for healthier school lunches with Chef Ann Cooper.
The two-day event was catalyzed by Whole Foods Markets School Lunch Makeover video contest. With the help of a dedicated parent, students from the Albert Einstein Academies charter school made their case for a school lunch overhaul. Their video Where Did the Good Food Go? came in first place! The prize? A visit from the Renegade Lunch Lady herself, Chef Ann Cooper.
Chef Ann has been challenging and transforming the school lunch system across the country. A chef for over 30 years, she now focuses on strengthening links among food, farms, family, and child wellness. As part of this, Chef Ann is calling for a school lunch revolution in which schools shift from packaged and processed food toward healthy, nutritious meals. Her online resources, appearances, and campaign to increase school lunch funding by one dollar per meal are inspiring and empowering local schools and activists from coast to coast. This time, she made a two-day stop in San Diego.
Slow Food Urban San Diego, having partnered with Albert Einstein Academies, helped kick off the events with a press conference featuring Chef Ann and the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. The partnership among Chef Ann, Whole Foods, Slow Food Urban San Diego, Albert Einstein Academies, and the local restaurant Alchemy drew so much attention, in fact, that the Mayor issued a proclamation declaring February 18, 2010 Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Day. Later that day, Chef Ann addressed over 150 people at the Natural History Museum of San Diego. A Slow Food member gave lead-in presentation about the Time for Lunch campaign, complete with live tutorial on sending e-letters to congress.
Posted on Sat, March 06, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
I just spent an invigorating 2 days in Washington DC at the Drake Forum, a gathering intended to “identify innovative policies and projects at the federal, state, and local levels to support new and beginning farmers.” Right now the average age of the American farmer is 57, a statistic we bandy about without really knowing how to correct it. I mean the answer is simple: get more young people on the land! Make farming a cool, viable career again! But easier said than done.
Jane Black covered it anecdotally in the Washington Post today, capturing just one of many of the fascinating stories shared with the 200+ group. We heard stories of frustration—navigating the confusing maze of USDA programs available; stories of renegades succeeding despite the obstacles—Hmong farmer Susane Moua in St. Paul MN, turning backyards into a CSA program.
The strength of this gathering lay in a few key places:
1. The focus on discussing real, possible solutions, especially in the policy arena
2. The presence of US Agencies, especially the USDA (including Secretary Tom Vilsack delivering the opining keynote)
3. The focus on bringing together big ag and sustainable ag (though the deck was a bit stacked towards the sustainable ag folks)
The conference was organized by Professor Neil Hamilton, Slow Food chapter leader in Iowas as well as the head of the Drake Agricultural Law Center. Attendees seemed extremely energized following the final session today—one in which “policy reporters” from each panel summarized the potential policy solutions that arose on their panel as well as posing the essential remaining questions.
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.