What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, February 18, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
Right now, the National Farm to School Network is running two contests for grade school and college students, and has its fifth National Farm to Cafeteria Conference on its way. These are all great opportunities for Slow Food members who work with local schools, and for anyone and everyone interested in getting healthier food into schools and creating jobs in local farm economies.
The first contest asks K-12 and college students to record a video that shows what the phrase real food means to them. Farm to School poses three questions:
1 What does real food mean to you?
2 - How does what we eat affect our culture, health, economy, or environment?
3 Why should your cafeteria start or continue buying local food?
In answering these questions, the film can be anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes, and directed in any style (documentary, fiction, live action even animated). The grand prize? Appropriately, $1,000 toward the winners school lunch project. To check out last years stars, click here.
Posted on Thu, February 11, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Julia Landau
Yesterday afternoon, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a conference call for ordinary citizens where he explained the Administrations priorities for the Child Nutrition Act. There were 1,000 people on the call, which is incredible and which demonstrates the momentum behind making real improvements to child nutrition programs.
What was the number one thing Vilsack recommended we do to improve the food in our countrys schools? SPEAK UP. While Vilsack noted the immense interest in this issue and clear public support for getting healthier food into schools, he also stressed that this issue isnt appearing in the national media and the only way to get the message through to Congress is grassroots advocacy. What does this mean? Our Secretary of Agriculture is calling on us to contact our Senators and Representatives as they move on this bill and to get media coverage as we do it. You can find a great jumping-off point right here at Slow Food USAs Time for Lunch Campaign.
Vilsack also stressed community involvement in small-scale agriculture through the USDAs program Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. Check it out for resources and grants to support local food in your community.
The people on the call today were 1,000 small farmers, food service providers, PTA members, teachers, doctors, and dieticians. In answering their questions, Vilsack outlined some key focus areas for the Administration: increasing the nutritional value of school food; strengthening farm-to-school programs; providing training and equipment in school kitchens; providing healthy food during non-school days; expanding enrollment in reduced and free lunch programs; and supporting the new 60 minutes of play a day initiative. In general, he voiced his support for the First Ladys new childhood obesity effort, Lets Move.
So you heard it, folks. We know how important Child Nutrition Reauthorization is - now, its time to make Congress and the media understand as well.
Posted on Fri, February 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
1. Biopic about Temple Grandin, humane slaughterhouse designer and generally fascinating person, stars Claire Danes and airs this weekend on HBO.
2. NAIS no longer a problem! Niiiiiiiice. “Faced with stiff resistance for ranchers and farmers,” the USDA has dropped its National Animal Identification System proposed program; this comes as good news to small-mid scale producers and their supporters, who felt it would have placed on undue burden on them.
3. Weird unpronouncable things allowed in your meat: via Bob Perry at University of Kentucky, here is the latest list of what weird stuff is allowable in commodity meat & poultry from the USDA. As he says: “and people wonder why I only buy from local farmers…...”
[photo courtesy of Paul Stevenson, flickr creative commons]
Posted on Thu, February 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
The debate around school lunch and child nutrition is gathering major momentum. The 2 big reasons why:
Posted on Thu, January 28, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Emily Vaughn
No matter how sustainably produced your food purchases are, food that goes uneaten is a waste of resources and a major pollutant. Food scraps make up nearly 13 percent of municipal waste in the US. That percentage includes discarded trimmings like carrot peels and apple cores, but the bulk consists of surplus or aesthetically imperfect items from food service providers. Organic material like food waste produces methane as it decomposes in landfills: a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. Whats a conscientious consumer to do?
One solution is to reclaim discarded food from the dumpster. The new documentary, Dive!: Living off Americas Waste
Dive!: Living off Americas Wasteby newcomer director Jeremy Seifert follows a lighthearted a group of bearded, freegan friends as they rifle through the trash bins of LAs big-box grocery stores, and rattle off the code of containering (eg. Never take more than you need). One dives haul includes plastic cartons of blueberries, presumably thrown out because a handful of berries were bruised or moldy. The next morning the directors towheaded toddler grins with a mouthful of blueberry pancakes as he explains the meals origin to the camera.
But after a few dives that reveal the extent of the food available for scavenging, the film matures from a youthful how-to into a serious examination of the industrial and corporate practices that make dumpster diving possible. In a pivotal scene with cleverly balanced gravity and cheek, Seifert does some quick mathwritten out on a driveway in freecylced Reddi-wipto show that reclaiming just one percent of the food thrown out in LA County would more than triple the food deficit of its food banks.
The focus then shifts to getting grocery stores to step-up their donation programs, and inspiring citizens to make it happen. The film closes with a quote from Noam Chomsky, Change and progress very rarely are gifts from abovethey come out of struggles from below.Ԡ And it looks like the dumpster is the new battleground.
Posted on Mon, January 25, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
The temperature is rising on the conversation about school lunch reform!
Posted on Sat, January 09, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
This week I attended a preview of Out Here: A Queer Farmer Film Project. A work-in-progress, this documentary centers around queer farmers helping shape todays movement of do-it-yourselfers bringing an umm, rainbow of real food to Americas tables.
For nearly three years I was a farmer (I like to say Im retired). I also identify as a gay man, so I was excited to see a clip of this project. Yet, part of me wondered: why a film about queer farmers? And who is this movie for? In many ways the queerness factor has nothing to do with farming. But, when you actually ask if it does youll spark an interesting discussion.
The panel featured queer urban farmers from NYCs Greenthumb program, Just Foods Livestock Training Program, the NYC Community Gardens Coalition, and a woman from Darling Doe Farm in Saugerties in the Hudson Valley.
The audience and on-screen interviewees seemed to reach consensus that theres a natural affinity drawing us queers to agriculture today especially in the urban environment. Is it because as gays and lesbians were demonstrating that alternative ways of viewing the world have equal merit? Were successfully challenging the norms of the traditional family, so perhaps participation in new food systems and community planning are natural extensions.
I leave it to social scientists to come up with data, but discussion pointed to a seeming tendency for queer agriculturalists to address the social justice issues at play in the food system. Likely, this is because queers too, face societal injustices every day.
When we talk identity politics and sociology we uncover diverse perspectives, but may still overlook others. One panelist noted that skin color was the identifier people notice first not her sexuality. Queerness has nothing to do ability to teach another how to transplant tomatoes, but race and gender certainly may provide an element of legitimacy in ones work in disadvantaged communities for whom the current food system disproportionately serves.
Posted on Fri, January 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you’ve been meaning to catch one of their screenings, but haven’t yet done so, take heart: “What’s On Your Plate?” will air on the Discovery Channel on Saturday, February 6th
Consider planning a viewing party! Have a potluck, host a discussion, watch the movie in your living—anything goes. Just make sure to save the date in your calendars now. Click here to learn more about the film; it follows two eleven-year old multi-racial city kids as they explore their place in the food chain in New York City. You can also read about the movie right here on our blog where we wrote about it last July.
Posted on Mon, November 02, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Food Inc., the movie that caused quite a stir earlier this year by exposing the shocking truth about the food we eat, was released today on DVD and Blu-Ray. As we previously highlighted on this blog, Slow Food USA and many of its chapters were intimately involved in helping to promote and pre-screen this film to shed light on how our food supply is controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, worker safety and our own environment.
What were the reactions of audience members to this film? What were your own thoughts as you watched it? What should we be doing to continue to push big Ag to change their ways? How can we help ensure sustainable farming (and growing, processing, distribution) practices become the norm rather than the exception? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
The DVD release also contains some additional footage and news coverage that you may not have seen around the time the film was released, including:
Celebrity Public Service Announcements
ABC News Nightline You Are What You Eat: Food With Integrity
The Amazing Food Detective and Snacktown Smackdown: Stay Active and Eat Health
Also, n.b.: The Center for Ecoliteracy has published a Food, Inc. Discussion Guide, designed a classroom resource for grades 9 to 12.
The 102-page guide provides questions and activities about the films themes, including health, sustainability, animal welfare, and workers rights. It is designed to help high school students make more thoughtful choices about food and participate in a meaningful dialogue about food and food systems.
Posted on Mon, November 02, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Heather Teige
The first of Slow Food on Campus’ three-part event series focusing on good, clean, and fair kicked off October 24th. Slow Food on Campus (SFOC) chapters participated in, and coordinated on-campus events to help raise awareness of the “clean” part of Slow Food USAs mission. Our SFOC chapters supported 350.orgs International Day of Climate Action and were a part of the lively patchwork of creative and thoughtful events that advocated for better climate change policy (one that caps CO2 emissions at 350 parts per million).
Slow Food on Campus chapter efforts were part of more than 5,200 registered events around the globe; from these events, over 19,000 photos have been submitted and uploaded to 350.org. The incredible breadth of diversity found in these photos, whether it be where the photo was taken, or the personal thoughts on climate change that the photos express, is inspiring. The sheer number of people involved is a testament to the societal shift that has occurred in recent years and stands as proof of the commitment people are ready to make to help encourage better climate change policy.
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.