What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, July 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gabrielle Redner
Not only does Catherine Gund’s film, What’s On Your Plate? educates its audience about where our food comes from, it also investigates why getting good food to all people all the time is challenging. The audience follows two seventh graders as they make the journey that food takes, from the farm to CSAs and farmer’s markets, to schools and into the home. Sadie and Safiyah meet all the people involved in feeding the tremendous appetite of nine million New Yorkers. Throughout the film, the girls explore some essential questions: Why does food that is bad for us exist? Why can’t everyone eat healthy, non-processed food all the time?
The timing for this film’s debut could not have been better, as we team up to reform the Child Nutrition Act. Identifying what must be changed seems simple, but taking those steps means overcoming many hurdles, educating key people, raising money, and building networks across the food chain to get the job done.
Sadie and Safiyah know that more fresh fruits and vegetables, even local ones, should be in their school lunchroom. Why aren’t they? For starters, the school kitchen doesn’t have a stove, so cooking is out of the question. They need the money to buy one, and the staff to cook rather than heat up frozen meals. Sadie and Safiyah soon realize that, even with good intentions, change takes time. In this timely film, two twelve year-olds teach all of us a lesson on how to ask questions and build a team. While they are often two against one in their interviews, they do not intimidate. (Not only because they are middle school girls; that could still be scary!). They ask questions to policy makers with open-mindedness and genuine curiosity, and receive candid responses. Ultimately, the girls bring people together to work towards a city filled with better food.
Gund’s film offers enlightenment to all kinds of audiences. Those who know little about the sources of their food learn about farming and the processes of urban food distribution, as well as basic differences between processed and real food. Others who are more familiar with our food system will discover why we cannot fix its broken pieces all at once.
The subplot of this film is the networking amongst like-minded individuals, who all believe in feeding good food to all people. This is a must-see movie. Be ready to laugh, to learn and to be warmed by the sense of community amongst people who love real food. For more about the movie, click here go to their web site.
Gabrielle is a former Slow Food USA intern and an undergraduate student at NYU who enjoys, among other things, food, writing, traveling and the ocean.
Posted on Wed, June 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
By Gabrielle Redner
Rupert Murray’s documentary, The End of the Line, educates its audience about the reality of the sea: it is not an ever -replenishing body of water, and it is running low on many of its largest fish. Most likely, people who go to see the film agree that the ocean, like our land, must be mindfully utilized and not greedily mined. So what new information does the film provide to those who are concerned about fish in the sea? For starters, Murray acknowledges that the trawlers scooping hordes of fish out of the ocean rob the world not only of fish, but of jobs, a food source and the spirit of fishing communities.
Based on a book by British journalist Charles Clover, this film visually exposes the fishing industry’s incredibly powerful technologies. A boat unloads a waterfall of sardines, most of which will be used to feed farmed fish. Graphs of fish populations plummet, while graphs of their pray are on the exponential rise. The viewer is warned of the inevitable simplification of aquatic ecosystems if we continue to fish beyond recommended quotas.
As the scenes flash from rather bloody struggles of man and fish to decadent diners at Nobu, it’s hard not to think back to your last piece of delicious fish with a portion of guilt. But that is not the point. Like our land animals that may be sustainably raised and fed, fish can be caught using methods that ensure their sustainability, as well. The film does not ask us to reconsider whether to eat fish or not, but rather to consider the practices of those who caught the fish, and the stability of that species.
Posted on Wed, June 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA intern Carol Dacey-Charles
HR 2749The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009has passed through committee and is on its way to the House of Representatives for a vote before the July 4 holiday break. Now, given the recent and on-going challenges our food system has faced with recalls of peanuts, pistachios, spinach and tomatoes, not to mention mad cow and swine fluyou may think a little more regulation might be in order and I would agree with you. But how much of this is a good step forward in protecting the public and how much is using a sledgehammer to put up a tack?
The Act gives the FDA some powers that you might want in a food regulatory agencythe power to order a food recall, access to a farmers or producers records, and establishing a means to trace food along its chain of production. Other aspects of the new bill may make you think Big Brother is about to take over our food system. Among the “Alarming Provisions” of the bill (as reported in the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund site) are: giving the FDA the power to quarantine a geographical area—prohibiting all food movement in that region; empowering the FDA to dictate how crops are raised and harvested; and the narrow definition of a “farm” that would be excluded from these new fees and regulations—it turns out if you make cheese, bread or use lacto-fermentation you are a manufacturer and not a farm. How many growers at your local farmer’s market create value-added products to boost their incomes—probably no longer if this bill passes in its current form.
Posted on Thu, June 18, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Food, Inc. did so well in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, that it’s headed to 45 more theatres around the country, everywhere from Washington DC to Portland OR to Ft Lauderdale, FL.
It performed better at the box office this past weekend than all the other independent films in release (based on its per screen average). This is an amazing achievement for a documentary, and a good sign that the public is hungry for the real story of where their food comes from.
Head to the theatres this weekend! Tell your friends and neighbors (and then, you know, invite them over for a home cooked meal afterwards). Click here to see the expanded list of where the movie will be playing starting June 19th.
Posted on Fri, June 12, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
The South Central Farm operated from 1994 until 2006 on East 41st and South Alameda Streets in South Central, Los Angeles. The South Central Farmers, primarily poor immigrant families from Latin America, transformed a fourteen-acre plot slated for use as a garbage incinerator into 350 plots where they grew crops like corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, cactus and guava. Once considered the largest urban farm and community garden in the country, the garden enabled families to be less dependent on the food bank and provided a safe neighborhood haven.
After years of successful operation, in a devastating turn of events, the South Central Farm site was sold by Los Angeles city officials to private developer Ralph Horowitz to build a distribution center for Forever 21, a women’s clothing manufacturer and retailer. After weeks of community protest, the farm was forcibly shut down and, bulldozed at 5 am on June 13, 2006. The story of the South Central Farmers is told by Scott Hamilton Kennedy in his Academy Award nominated documentary film The Garden. Told there was nothing to be done, the filmmaker decided to chronicle this heartbreaking tale through its players: the farmers, the wheelers and dealers, the green power advocates and the moneymen.
This Saturday, on the third anniversary of the gardens demolition, the South Central Farmers and their supporters will reunite. The rally asks Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa to reconsider the use of this land, and subsidize the restoration of the farm with a portion of $137 million collected from developers for parks and green space. Especially in this current economic climate, preserving public gardening space and expanding accessibility nationwide is even more important than ever. This Saturday show your support for public green spaces in your local community by writing a letter (to local officials including city council members or parks bureau representatives), visiting parks, or buying food from local gardeners.
Posted on Tue, May 26, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
The first time I saw “Pressure Cooker” was at Slow Food Nation last Labor Day. It left me—and as far as I could tell every single other viewer in the theatre—in tears. It follows three seniors at a Philadelphia public high school, charting their journey through a culinary arts curriculum under the wing of the hilariously blunt, tough-loving Mrs. Stephenson. The film has been making the film festival circuit for the past 9 months and will now be enjoying a theatrical release in several cities (scroll all the way down for schedule). Here we sit down for an interview with Co-Directors Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman:
SFUSA: What do kids get from culinary education that they can’t find elsewhere in their schools/lives?
Jennifer: Culinary education provides hands on training that can engage all of the senses smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. It combines creativity with practicality, and is a skill students can use in their lives now and in the future. Culinary Arts also encompasses many other disciplines: reading, math, science, but presents them in a practical rather than theoretical way that appeals to many students. In addition, the discipline of the kitchen adds structure to lives that may not have much structure, and teaches teamwork.
Mark: As for the students from Frankford, in Culinary Arts with Mrs. Stephenson, they are gaining access to a classroom unlike any other at their public school. They know that if they can perfect their crepes and tourne potatoes for Mrs. Stephenson, they can get scholarships and get out of Frankford. Mrs. Stephenson, through her irreverent and uncompromising manner, teaches the value of practice and discipline. There are seven sides on a correctly crafted tourne potato: Wilma helps the kids see that there is a serious upside to perfecting that shape. The patience, repetition, and focus necessary to tourne a potato are skills predictive of success inside and outside the kitchen. Wilma makes that abundantly clear.
SFUSA: What do kids gain by developing a relationship with food?
Jennifer: Some students develop a passion for food and cooking, some gain respect and understanding for the products used in the kitchen, and many learn about nutrition as they broaden their palate and modify their eating habits.
Mark: I felt like I witnessed a developing respect for process. The students at Frankford were learning to put time and care into an endeavor. In preparing even something as seemingly straightforward as an omelet there were several variables that could lead to success or disaster. They developed a rigor in their mentality about how to achieve results.
SFUSA: In the movie we see the kids eat home cooked meals and the food they cook in school—do they, like most teenagers, eat fast food? Or has their culinary training made them less susceptible to the big draw of fast food? Did you learn anything about kids and their relationship to fast food?
Jennifer and Mark: Although Mrs. Stephensons students cook gourmet meals at school and often cook at home, they also consume a lot of fast food because of its low price and easy availability. Also, several students work in fast food chains and often eat there for free. Money and time are big factors when students are at school, doing sports, taking care of siblings, and working part and full-time jobs. Mrs. Stephenson does try to broaden her students palates. In one of the scenes in the film, Erica (a 17-year-old) even chastises her family for not having a discerning palate: You havent acquired the taste for anything but Fritos and Chitos. And Erica believes in what she is saying, even though the food economy and culture around her can prove an overwhelming foe.
Posted on Fri, April 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Allison Archer, an Emory student, did her thesis project on sustainability initiatives at her school—CNN saw it, liked it and condensed it into a 4.5 minute piece, all about how integrating sustainable food into the equation is an essential component of greening a campus. This is just one example of how Slow Food on Campus chapters are beginning to take the nation by storm. There are currently 20 Slow Food on Campus chapters, around the country, all working to address the need for a good, clean and fair food system in the United States and abroad. Students who participate in Slow Food on Campus are passionately organizing their peers, faculty and greater campus community to organize around a fairer food system.
Slow Food Emory is one of the newest Slow Food on Campus chapters, which makes it all the more impressive that they already gaining national attention for their initiatives. As they explain, Slow Food Emory hopes to heal ties severed by industrial fare and the campus meal plan.Ԡ The chapter has held potluck picnics, developed an edible school garden for the Captain Planet Foundation, and hosted a restaurant raffle that has introduced students to local, sustainable restaurants in the community.
For more information about what other Slow Food on Campus chapters are doing around the country and how to start a chapter at your college or university, check out the Slow Food on Campus page on our website.
Posted on Mon, March 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Also, check out the New York Times Sunday Styles’ piece on The American Academy in Rome, and how Alice—and a former Chez Panisse chef Mona Talbott—have transformed the dining hall there. As Mona says in the article: “We came with a mandate to create a new model for institutional dining to change the culture of institutional food so that its seasonal, nutritious and local. But it has become more than I ever expected. We have created a real community.
Posted on Wed, January 28, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food on Film
International Festival of Food and Film
Bologna: May 6-10, 2009
Slow Food on Film is an international festival that matches passion for film with that for food, while also promoting a new critical awareness of food culture. The festival plays host to screenings of films, short films, documentaries and TV series that focus on food-related issues (drives, perversions, identity and emotional implications) in an original way, as well as on the agricultural and food industry’s repercussion on society and the environment, and on gastronomic memory as a common heritage to be safeguarded.
After the great success of the first edition in Bologna (2,000 daily spectators, 1,350 Slow snacks sold and 800 accredited journalists from 20 countries), Slow Food on Film will be back May 6-10, 2009.
Start booking your stay in Bologna and your food and film schedule at Slow Food On Film! Read more about the event, including how to buy tickets at www.slowfoodonfilm.com
Posted on Fri, October 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you don’t know her, Slow Food New Orleans founder and leader, Poppy Tooker, is a chef, food activist and champion of the Eat It to Save It philosophy. In this MSN Practical Guide to Healthy Living video, follow Poppy around the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden as she visits with Ark of Taste farmers and food producers and discusses the importance of saving and reviving our delicious rare foods and food traditions.
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.