What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, December 20, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA’s position on the current food safety legislation recently passed by the Senate (again) and headed for a House vote.
UPDATE: After hanging briefly in legal limbo because of tax provisions in the bill, the Food Safety and Modernization Act (S 510) was passed by the Senate late last night. You can read about it in The Washington Post by clicking here.
It is expected to be voted on by the House this week.
For a blow by blow of what is covered by the bill, you can read Bill Marler’s recap by clicking here.
In light of recent large-scale food recalls—such as this summer’s recall of half a billion eggs—such corporate food safety legislation is necessary. However, it is very important that while this regulation needs to crack down on large-scale industrial/corporate bad actors, it must not hurt small scale producers and processors. That’s why we—with our allies including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition—supported this bill with the inclusion of the Manager’s Amendment (which includes the Tester amendment).
Posted on Fri, December 10, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today marks the second annual International Terra Madre Day—a day for celebrating eating locally, and honoring our local food communities.
Today marks the second annual International Terra Madre Day—a day for celebrating eating locally, and honoring our local food communities. In particular it can be a time for delegates to Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference in Torino to share with their experience from the conference with their communities.
This year there will be more than 1,000 events in over 120 countries, with over 50 of those events happening here in the U.S. Some communities got started early: over fifty Slow Food Seattle members and community supporters came together on November 28th for a day-long fish canning workshop called – “Time to Tin a Tuna!” - taught by Jeremy Brown, a Bellingham-based commercial fisherman and longtime proponent of Slow Food (as well as a Terra Madre delegate!). Wild Pacific Albacore has been in the news for all the right reasons - topping the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green List and on National Public Radio in a feature on the growth of micro-canneries in the Pacific Northwest. Though you can find canned albacore tuna at your local food co-ops or fish markets in many communities, this was an opportunity to learn firsthand with someone well-versed in the process and safety considerations of using pressure cookers. At the end of the day, attendees left with both with the pride of supporting a local fisherman and a good stock of Wild Pacific Albacore to last through the long northwest winter.
To read more about the event, click here.
Thanks to Jennifer Johnson for photos and Slow Food Seattle blog post! Photos feature Slow Food Seattle members, Philip and June Lee & their family learning how to can tuna as well as Tuna-canner extraordinaire Jeremy Brown, a Bellingham-based commercial fisherman
Posted on Fri, December 03, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
On December 8th, in Washington DC, the Dept of Justice and the USDA will be holding a workshop (kind of like a town hall) to hear from farmers and consumers. Join us!
On December 8th, in Washington DC, the Dept of Justice and the USDA will be holding a workshop (kind of like a town hall) to hear from farmers and consumers. Would you like to go and share your experience of how, as a consumer and/or food producer you are affected by the consolidation of our food system?
Maybe you’ve noticed prices rising at the supermarket even while most big food companies made record profits this year.
Maybe your local farm has gone out of business because it couldn’t compete with the prices set by industrial farms and consolidated buyers.
Maybe you know consumers having trouble finding good food at affordable prices, as well as farmers having trouble getting good food into mainstream markets.
To join Slow Food members and staff in Washington DC next week, please email Angelines at angelines[at]slowfoodusa.org
Posted on Fri, November 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA’s position on the current food safety legislation recently passed by the Senate (again) and headed for a House vote.
UPDATE: After hanging briefly in legal limbo because of tax provisions in the bill, the Food Safety and Modernization Act (S 510) was passed by the Senate late last night. You can read about it in The Washington Post by clicking here. It is expected to be voted on byt the House this week. For a blow by blow of what is covered by the bill, you can read Bill Marler’s recap by clicking here.
Many of you in the network have been asking about Slow Food USA"s position on S 510, the Food Safety and Modernization bill that is moving—slowwwwwly—through the Senate. In light of recent large-scale food recalls—such as this summer’s recall of half a billion eggs—such corporate food safety legislation is necessary. However, it is very important that while this regulation needs to crack down on large-scale industrial/corporate bad actors, it must not hurt small scale producers and processors.
That’s why we—with our allies including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition—support the Manager’s Amendment (which as of last night will include the Tester amendment, which makes it more likely to be part of the final bill). To read more about these two amendments and how they can help protect small farms and processors from onerous regulations, click here.
After vigorous debate yesterday, the bill is now on hold until after Thanksgiving. Marion Nestle offers her thoughts/recap here.
Now is a great time to contact your Senator to wish them a safe and delicious Thanksgiving AND pass food safety legislation that includes the Manager’s Amendment. You can add: “We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to more local and regional food sourcing. Size and practice appropriate food safety regulation for small and mid-sized farms and processors is vital to economic recovery, public health, and nutritional wellbeing.”
Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.
Posted on Fri, November 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Michael Blanding’s book aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke.
A version of this piece first appeared on Civil Eats
My dirty truth is that I have a collection of Coke bottles from around the world: one from Mexico, one with Arabic script, one covered in unrecognizable lettering and filled with Yugoslavian beach glass (a present from a friend who traveled there with her family in 1990 and brought it back as a present for me). And on and on. I was a teenager when I gathered them, and totally oblivious to the implications behind this international menagerie of emptied glass. This drink was everywhere, tailored slightly through variations in local water and variations in bottle size, but ultimately the same. I loved that I could find it anywhere: the great unifier.
Michael Blanding’s book, The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, aims to tell the real story behind that happy global picture of people who speak different languages and have different color skin but sway arm in arm singing songs and drinking Coke. He tells Coke’s story from the beginning, starting with the beverage’s origins in 1886 as a snake oil tonic and extending all the way up to its present incarnation as a multinational beverage corporation.
It’s a measure of my tremendous cynicism about corporations that more of this book didn’t shock the pants off of me. The story of the company’s early days, carving out an identity and working to convince the public that this refreshing leisure drink was a necessity, was captivatingly told and a great example of how iconic brands are built. In Coke’s case it was built aggressively with a focus on growth and led by unprecedentedly well-funded advertising campaigns.
Market growth is It for Coke, and Blanding chronicles how the company’s desire for growth eventually led them to bottle tap water, add some secret minerals and corner a whole new market. After all, there is a limit to how much soda one person can drink, right? Actually, that limit might be higher than you expect. One of the more troubling accounts in the book is of a town in Mexico called San Juan de Chamula, where newborns are fed Coke in their bottles, and locals worship their Saints by downing ritual glasses of Coca-Cola and leaving cola offerings at church altars. As one local guide explains it “Here Coca-Cola is cash, poison, magic, passion, pleasure, torture, love and medicine.” But not everyone has welcomed Coke’s presence.
Posted on Wed, November 17, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
UPDATE: This bill will be voted on Wednesday Dec. 1. Slow Food USA joins hundreds of organizations around the country in writing a letter to Reps. Miller and Kline strongly urging them to pass the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act immediately.
UPDATE: This bill will be voted on Wednesday Dec. 1.
After one year of hard work on the part of activists, school nutrition directors, parents and politicians to pass improved school lunch legislation, everything seemed hinged to collapse this Fall after the Senate passed a version of the bill that would take money from future food stamp funding.
This move succeeded in splitting the school lunch advocacy community. Some felt that a badly-funded bill was better than no bill at all; others felt that it was crazy to take money from hungry children in order to…. feed hungry children. At that time we asked you to call your House Reps to say “No! Don’t pass a bad bill, we’d rather have no bill at all.”
Now, as Congress people return post-election for what is called their “lame duck session,” urgency mounts and tactics shift. On November 11th Slow Food USA joined hundreds of organizations around the country in writing a letter to Reps. Miller and Kline strongly urging them to pass the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act immediately, express concerns about SNAP funding, and acknowledging the rock-and-a-hard place we’re all in.
In light of how difficult it will be to pass such a significant piece of legislation in the more fiscally-conservative congress, we felt it important to join many of our allies to urge the House to pass the significantly improved legislation despite the current cuts to SNAP. We will fight to return those funds, but we must pass CNR now.
As Rep George Miller said yesterday : “It’s this opportunity or we lose it.”
We have decided that the most important thing right now is to get an improved school lunch bill passed as soon as possible. We feel that our children have waited long enough and that the several improvements in this bill—including more money per child per meal and improved guidelines for food sold outside the lunch line—represent something worth fighting for.
Call Congress to let to let them know that we want the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307) passed now, not later. Dial 1-877-698-8228 and enter your zip code to be connected to your Representative.
Posted on Sat, September 25, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
On September 25, thousands of people participated in “Dig In,” a national day of action to connect to our food and farmers. Where did you dig in?
Today, thousands of people across the country broke ground together at local gardens, farms and community events, and then broke bread together to celebrate. It was all part of “Dig In,” a national day of action to connect to our food and farmers. Check out the photos here.
Where did you “Dig In” on September 25?
This blog post is open thread – share comments and stories from your event below.
Posted on Thu, September 16, 2010 by Slow Food USA
Watch our latest video telling the story behind the egg scandal, and sign the petition calling for food safety.
by Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel
This article was first posted on The Atlantic Monthly’s Food Channel
When I speak to groups of people, I urge them to know the story behind their food, and for that story to be one they can be proud of. Last month’s recall of nearly a half a billion eggs has pulled back the curtain on industrial egg production and shown many Americans the story they never knew about how their eggs get onto their plates. It’s not a story eaters can be proud of, nor is it one the farmer can be proud of, nor is it one our food regulatory agencies can be proud of.
In fact, there are so many unpleasant realities in this story, that we still don’t know exactly which elements contributed to the presence of salmonella—cramped cages, mouse droppings, dead insects, chicken feed containing chicken bone meal. But it’s not just a story about eggs, of course.
Over the past year the USDA and the Department of Justice have been holding anti-trust workshops all over the country, examining how consolidation is affecting our agricultural system. They have listened to hog farmers, cattle producers, dairy farmers in an attempt to understand what this means for small-mid sized farmers and ranchers, and what this ultimately means for the consumer.
When half a billion eggs get recalled, consumers are rightfully scared and wonder what their alternatives are. For most people, there isn’t one; when only a handful of companies control the majority of the market, it means that when disease strikes, and spreads, there aren’t many places to turn. People in all 50 states eat eggs, but 50% of our eggs are produced in only 5 states. The same week that the egg recall was announced, there was a beef recall. And we all remember recent widespread spinach and peanut recalls.
IIn each story there have been similar narrative elements: large companies trying to get away with as much as they can, even if it means selling consumers product they know is contaminated; ineffective communication about violations between FDA and USDA; repeated bad actors allowed to stay in business; rapid and far-reaching spread of the product, making it challenging to recall all of it effectively; sick consumers and sometimes, tragically, dead ones.
The Department of Justice is starting to learn the story, and consumers are starting to learn too. The next step will be for government and individuals alike to demand a system that respects farmers, respects the environment, and respects the health and safety of consumers. A great starting point is communication—let’s demand that the FDA and the USDA talk to each other to make sure that bad actors are held accountable and forced to clean up their act before contaminated food makes its way to our tables.
Posted on Wed, September 15, 2010 by Intern
Thanks to the work of the faculty and students of Avoyelles Charter Public School, Slow Food Avoyelles, and the wider community, a once-empty space has been transformed into a vibrant and lively Edible Schoolyard.
by intern Claire Brandow
Between a line of trees and the softball field at the Avoyelles Charter Public School in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, is an abundant garden. Cauliflower, lettuce, and shallots grow. Corn, squash, and beans grow together as the “three sisters.” Sunflowers and rose bushes represent the flower population here, and a few fruit trees mark the beginning of an orchard. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, this space was an empty field. Thanks to the work of the faculty and students of Avoyelles Charter Public School, Slow Food Avoyelles, and the wider community, the once-empty space has been transformed into a vibrant and lively Edible Schoolyard. From seeds-and-dirt to fork-and-plate, the 700 students of ACPS are now engaging with their food from many different aspects.
In August 2009, after approval from school director Julie Durand, Paige Rabalais and Polly Boersig, officers of Slow Food Avoyelles, began the work to turn the space into the impressive program it is today. Community donations of time, labor, and resources resulted in the construction of a shed that serves the dual purposes of tool storage and outdoor instruction. Next, a winter of “lasagna gardening” helped to ready the space for planting. In “lasagna gardening,” a cover crop is planted over a thick layer of compost in one quarter of the garden. The planted quarter is then rotated over the entire garden, depositing vitamins and nutrients into the soil.
The latest facet to the students’ food education is the addition of a kitchen to the curriculum. Painted in vibrant hues and stocked with Anolon cookware donated by the company as part of its “Creating a Delicious Future” initiative, students are now learning to cook what they’ve grown in the garden. Cushaw, a squash favored by local Cajun traditions, was recently given a few culinary treatments. It was baked with butter and honey, pureed for soup, and the seeds were roasted for a snack. The students have created many other delicious dishes like fluffy omelets, fresh squeezed orange juice, okra fritters, and even an herbed gazpacho with homemade garlic croutons.
Posted on Fri, August 06, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Just when we all assumed that Congress was too busy to talk child nutrition before their summer break, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act late today.
Just when we all assumed that Congress was too busy to talk child nutrition before their summer break, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act late today. It provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch program. The days leading up to this unanimous passage had been full of urgent calls to action—from Michelle Obama in the Washington Post to Senator Richard Lugar in the New York Times.
Does this mean this long road—the battle to get a fully funded and improved child nutrition bill—has finally come to an end? Not yet. The House still has to pass it as well (and then there will be reconciliation, etc.). The clock is ticking however; the bill expires on September 30th and the new funding contained within will be lost if it isn’t reauthorized by then.
The version that passed in the Senate included a bunch of our priorities - more funding for healthier meals, regulations to kick junk food out of school vending machines, and $50 million for Farm to School programs, but it also makes cuts to food stamps in order to pay for them.
This process has now dragged on for nearly a year past its original expiration date—now’s the time to urge your House Rep to help bring this process to a close, which would, as our First Lady said today “bring us one step closer to reaching that goal [of ending childhood obesity].”
UPDATE: Earlier this week there was some concern that the House, in an effort to move speedily before heading off for August recess, might pass the Senate version. Thanks to the 4,000+ of you of you who responded to our call to action with a letter to your Rep urging them, to pass the HOUSE version (the House bill avoids making cuts to food stamps (SNAP) - a move which will impact the children that are the most vulnerable. School lunch should not be funded at the expense of other important food programs). In the meantime, you can still use the link above to write your Rep—urging them to pass the bill before the September 30th expiration.
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.