What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, March 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This blog post over at Plenty Mag made a few references we'd like to pass along. The first is a mention of the sense-making and practical French phrase for sustainable agriculture — "agriculture raisonnee," which translates as "rational" or "reasonable agriculture." Not bad, right?
The next is the post's reference to GOOD magazine's food issue, out on stands right now. The issue includes a Q and A with Slow Food USA Executive Director Erika Lesser. Some of you may know that Slow Food USA is one of GOOD's charity partners; this means that when you buy a subscription, you can choose us to receive 100% of that subscription price, and do your part towards building a food system that is good, clean, and fair.
Posted on Thu, February 28, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
An article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal on reducing environmental impact through use of a garbage disposal got us thinking about the various options for managing your organic waste (n.b. you'll need a subscription in order to read the entire article). There are garbage disposals, yes, but also composting. If you've been looking for ways to reduce waste in your household but have felt intimidated by getting started, now's your chance! Today's the day to begin.
Garbage Disposal: The above-mentioned article points out that environmental engineers and local government planners around the world are starting to acknowledge the positive benefits of disposing of organic waste through the water system rather than sending it to the landfill. They even cite a model project in Malmo Sweden that doen't use the sewage system but rather a special organic waste system that turns food into methane, which can then be used to produce power.
Backyard Composting: If it's just yard waste you're looking to manage, you can simply put it in a pile and nature will take its course. If it's food scraps you'd like to compost, you've got to build or buy a structure for it, or critters will show up to make themselves a feast. You can find some helpful instructions here at the City of Davis' website.
Urban Composting: What if you don't have a backyard? Here in NYC, you can bring your food scraps to various farmers' markets. When you have food scraps, put them in plastic bags in your freezer to keep the from decomposing, and when your freezer gets too full, you can bring them to the market, or to other drop-off locations, such as community gardens, ecology centers, urban farms, etc. Another option? Vermiculture–yup, worms. Read more about this here.
Posted on Mon, February 25, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
What better symbol of our commitment to Slow principles and ecological living than growing a garden? Home food production is almost a forgotten art, but Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) and Portland, Maine convivium leader David Buchanan are working to reverse today's downward trends and help revive our gardens.
By David Buchanan
According to USDA statistics, today we buy more than 99 percent of the food we eat, and the percentage of home-grown food continues to decline. And yet backyard gardens and community plots can play a vital role in food production, as they did during the Second World War. At its height the Victory Garden movement produced nearly 40% of the produce consumed in this country. A reinvigorated garden movement could dramatically improve the way we grow and consume food.
In some cases all that's needed to start changing the way we eat and live on the land is a few basic tools, seeds and information. With that in mind, I traveled to Argentina in January to design and build a school garden in a shantytown neighborhood near Buenos Aires, and help launch a new KGI initiative.
The project's goal is to provide technical advice, training, tools, seeds and financial support for gardens in impoverished communities in the US and abroad. I spent nearly a month in Argentina designing the school's garden site, managing construction of planting beds and a pergola, prepping the soil, and working with local children to plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. I'll continue to stay involved to provide advice and support (and work with a school in Portland to form a sister garden project for their Spanish students).
Photos and a write-up of my experience with the school garden in Argentina are available at www.eatbydesign.org in the "travel" section.
Please visit www.kitchengardeners.org to learn more about Kitchen Gardeners International.
Posted on Mon, February 18, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food Chicago member Anne Marie Klaske of NA-DA FARM (near DeKalb, IL) wrote to us about her family's unexpected encounter with the NAIS system.
An interesting reverberation and consequence that none of us might have anticipated. Please do jump in with your thoughts on this one:
I wanted to share w/SlowFood USA our family's experience lately with NAIS. We are just a small farm, with backyard 'pets' that provide us with our own eggs, and a horse and the kids pony…they aren't looking to go anywhere except to show them at the 4-H Fair. However, 4-H has complied with the NAIS's voluntary request to make it mandatory for all livestock to have a premises I.D. (the start to NAIS). My little 9 year old girl had been preparing to show Lady (her pony) this year at the fair, and because we don't want to participate in NAIS at all- with any form- she is unable to show her. We contacted the local 4-H leader of our county, and to our dismay, she explained they had to participate in the NAIS request because that is where they get a lot of their grant money. We are not only disappointed in the complacency of 4-H, but also how people just don't understand NAIS is a request, at least for now, and the more people who go along with the request the easier it will be for NAIS to be implemented for everyone, even the single Grandma living on her family farm who only owns one goat!
The amount of paperwork, expense, and just plain intrusion into our private homes/farms, is just wrong. Hopefully, as with anything new, people are looking into NAIS, not forgetting to look into the problems with that kind of system, instead of just taking it for the face value of helping: "provides producers and owners like you with a uniform numbering system for their animals to help manage them more closely." Any livestock owner, whether big or small, will tell you they manage their animals just fine now, without the government interfering, and for my daughter showing her pony at the fair, it's just plain unfair.
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, February 13, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
It's been a while since we've done any Farm Bill alerts, so here goes, since things are starting to get rolling again for the final push. Thanks to our friends at Community Food Security Coalition for keeping us all informed and in the loop.
The next step for getting this thing passed: members of the Senate and the House need to reconcile the differences between the versions that each body passed last year. When they come up with a single, decisive version, they'll then send it over to Bush, who many fear will veto the whole darn thing.
The conferees from the Senate side were announced this week. They are the top ranking (been around the longest) members of the Agriculture Committee - 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans:
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
If any of these Senators are from your state, it is still important to give them a call. Things to mention:
You can reach your Senator's office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Posted on Tue, February 12, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The New Mexico State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 60 that provides New Mexico State University (NMSU) $250,000 for: "research on mechanical harvesting and genetic engineering of chile…" We have until Wednesday morning to get Governor Richardson to line item veto this funding.
Members of Slow Food Rio Grande met with the chile industry's lobbyist yesterday and one of the sponsors of the bill. The chile industry's contention is that they have lost market share to Peru due to lower costs, and that labor is difficult to find. In response, they have developed a mechanized picker but now need a stronger chile that can handle the pressure of the machine.
Certain varieties of chile have been crossed over the past years making the skin tougher, etc. But, these same growers/chile processing companies, currently have operations in Mexico. And one of these companies has been patenting the "process" of making chile, so chile grown in Mexico is now called "New Mexico Chile." They are currently patenting the names of traditional chiles as well. NMSU also will gain with the development of a GMO chile seed.
GMO seeds can potentially destroy the genetic diversity of New Mexico's natural habitat, causing deviations in the structure of native and wild species, and the ecosystem. This bill threatens the integrity of all chile seeds grown for generations locally and internationally. Many countries ban GMO products, so in effect this bill would limit exportation of all NM's chile products. (n.b. The New Mexican Chile is on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste).
As consumers and representatives of organizations, as defenders of biodiversity and non-genetically modified food, we urge to you to please help us out by calling, emailing or faxing Governor Richardson to veto this funding.
With less than 24 hours, PLEASE call and email Governor Richardson. Let him know you will no longer eat chile products from NM, if this bill is funded.
1. Telephone: 505-476-2200
· Tell the person your name
· Tell them if you are a consumer, Slow Food member, farmer, etc, and from where
· Tell the person you want the Governor to:
Line Item Veto: In HB2 (House Bill 2), page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
· Click here or
· Copy into your browser: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/email.php?mm=6&type=opinion
· Choose issue: Legislative Session 2008
· Cut and Paste the Following in the Comments section:
Please Line Item Veto: In HB2, page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
3. Fax: 505-476-2257
Posted on Fri, February 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you've been gobbling up avocados in recent days, they're likely not California-born. Last winter, California's avocado crops were devastated by a harsh freeze. This past fall, with hopes of recouping their losses, farmers were hit again, this time by the widespread wildfires. The difference between freeze and fire, however, is that the freeze affects only the one crop/season, whereas the fire-burned trees might take three years to recover. Consumers probably have not noticed the effects (prices have not risen) because Mexico and Chile have stepped in to fill the void.
(Photo by Donna McLoughlin, using Puebla avocados purchased at the San Diego farmer's market.)
The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste recently "boarded" the Puebla avocado, which despite its name, can be found in the San Diego area, having been brought there from Mexico circa 1911. It was once quite popular, but was replaced by the hass variety which travels better because of its thicker skin. There were very few trees even before the fires, and now the numbers are down to a mere 10. Dennis Sharmahd, one of the few remaining Puebla producers, is hopeful that next year, trees might be available for sale.
11020 Bachelor Lane
Escondido, CA 92026
760-749-0792 or 760-317-7777
Beattie & Travis Avocado Co
1757 Warmlands Ave.
Vista, CA 92084-3630
Posted on Tue, February 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Overheard walking down the NYC street yesterday: "I don't eat potatoes; it's a texture thing." A curious statement given the tremendous variety of potato preparation, not to mention potatoes themselves. Mashed potatoes, potato gratin, boiled potatoes, shredded and fried potatoes…the textures (and flavors) are endless. And did we mention…delicious?
Perhaps this–the glory of the potato–is what caused the UN to declare 2008 "The International Year of the Potato." Some people might argue for 1845 being the year of the potato (that's the Irish potato famine, for those non-history buffs out there), but that was about lack, and we'll hope that this one's about bounty. The UN made this decision and set up their website as part of a worldwide initiative to raise awareness about potatoes, and their ability to play a part in food security. As they say on their site: They're grown worldwide. They feed the hungry. They're good for you. Demand for them is growing.
Another interesting part of the site is the discussion of potato diversity and the discussion of genetic engineering of potatoes, side by side.
Slow Food USA has three potato varieties on its Ark of Taste:
The Green Mountain Potato, very popular in the latter half of the 19th century
Ivis White Cream Sweet Potato, an extremely endangered and unique variety and
The earthy, nutty, pacific northwest fingerling variety called the Ozette.
Posted on Mon, February 04, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
We found this fascinating photo essay via our friends at Slow Food Seacoast (photo at left not from the series). A photographer at The Chicago Tribune did a long term project photographing a family farm that eventually closed down– a demise he chronicled. Later, he had the serendipitous opportunity to return to the farm or, well, where the farm used to be. He did a second photo essay of the new family living there, who were living in one house of a newly built subdivision. The Trib shows the pics side by side and the effect is powerful.
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.