What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, January 24, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA’s president says he is not turning his back on the organization’s roots, but is instead trying to better understand its identity.
by Slow Food USA President, Josh Viertel
When my fiancée, Juliana, and I were farming, we grew the most beautiful produce I have ever seen. I do not mean to brag. It is sort of like being a parent, or a pet owner. Anyone who has grown food with love probably feels that way about the product of his or her labor. We grew 300 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, many heirloom varieties, and ingredients for cooking food from so many traditions. We sold them at a farmers’ market in a well-heeled neighborhood, and we charged a lot of money. We did not think twice about charging $16 per pound for salad greens. We knew what work went into it, we knew how good it was, and we knew it was worth it. We sold out. And we made $12,000 a year between the two of us. We thought we were doing pretty well.
When low-income people came to our stand with food stamps, we gave them two or three for the price of one. But something was broken. At $12,000, we had low incomes ourselves, and the only people we could feed had high incomes. I wanted to change the world, and I saw farming as a piece of that work. Fairness for the farmer seemed to mean injustice for the eater. Fairness for the eater seemed to mean injustice for the farmer. How could we simply choose to fight for one, with the knowledge that it undercut the other?
A few years later, I found myself standing in a room filled with about 300 extraordinary people—people working to take on the same paradox that had troubled me as a young farmer. Slow Food USA was putting on an enormous event in San Francisco in the fall of 2008 called Slow Food Nation. It brought the most inspiring artisan pickle makers, charcuterie curers, and bread bakers together with the most committed food activists and farmers. Alice Waters, Carlo Petrini, Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Van Jones, Vandana Shiva, Lucas Benitez, and many, many other heroes of mine were all in the same place, at the same time, to talk about food, farming, and the movement to transform both. Monsanto and Ronald McDonald would have done well to blow up the building.
Posted on Thu, December 15, 2011 by Slow Food USA
2011: a Slow Food USA year in review by Josh Viertel.
by Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA
2011 started with a very important question.
In January, we asked President Obama what he was doing to make it easier to feed our kids fruit than Froot Loops. He said Walmart would fix it. You didn’t buy it, and neither did we. So together, we went about fixing it ourselves.
When industrial agribusiness tried to make it a felony to take pictures of farms (so they couldn’t be held accountable for animal abuse) we said, “A good farm has nothing to hide.” And we buried legislators in four states, not just with petition signatures, but with pictures of the incredible sustainable farms that make us proud. The Slow Food “Farmarazzi” saved the day—and the bills died in all four states.
When Fast Food said that it had value for everybody and Slow Food was just for the elite, we proved them wrong. On one day, at more than 5,500 shared meals all over the country, 30,000 of you sat at the table together and took the $5 Challenge, cooking Slow Food for less than fast food. People shared their tips, tricks, recipes, and what made it a challenge. Together, we are taking back the value meal.
And when a handful of congressional leaders tried to sneak past a “secret farm bill” cooked up for the corn and soy lobby, we brought Congress a Recipe for Change, written and signed by over 13,000. No “secret farm bill” was going to slip through on our watch.
We couldn’t have done any of it without your support. And in 2012 we’ve got even more work to do.
2012 is going to be about building change from the bottom up: community by community; farmers market by farmers market; garden by garden. Slow Food’s chapters are building grassroots solutions to a broken food system.
Already, Slow Food chapters have built over 300 school gardens. They reach over 33,000 kids. And they make it happen as volunteers. One inspiring example is Slow Food Miami, where chapter volunteers planted an astounding 63 school gardens in 44 days.
If we can support 650 more leaders like these to make this kind of change in their own communities, we can build more gardens in schools than McDonald’s has franchises!
But, really, we can’t do any of this without the support of the Slow Food community. We’re all in this together.
Posted on Mon, October 24, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Congress is planning dramatic cuts to the American budget and anything and everything is on the chopping block. The agricultural sector is likely to take a big hit but will the special Congressional “super committee” make positive change or keep pandering to Big Ag?
That’s no way to balance a budget: that’s a recipe for disaster.
Posted on Mon, October 03, 2011 by Slow Food USA
October 16th is World Food Day. How about hosting a $5 challenge meal?
It sure is the harvest season!
You’ve heard of Food Day—to be held on October 24th. But did you also know that on October 16th it’s WORLD food day? That’s one more chance to host a $5 challenge meal, this time as part of our partner Oxfam America’s Sunday Suppers/World Food Day campaign.
As Oxfam describes it:
This World Food Day, Oxfam America is teaming up with a host of allies across the US and around the globe. We have a simple yet compelling idea—to host a Sunday Dinner October 16th that fosters a conversation about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and how we can make the food system more just and sustainable.
You can order materials to help you host your dinner and register your event by clicking here.
And of course you can read a ton of wonderful tips and tricks collected as part of our $5 Challenge initiative by going to our tumblr (click here).
Posted on Thu, September 29, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Guess who’s getting in on the $5 Challenge?
Just two weeks after 30,000 of you came together and took the $5 Challenge, the Partnership for a Healthier America—the foundation created for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign—has announced they’re up to the challenge, too.
On November 29th, White House Chef Sam Kass will be hosting two cooking events designed to highlight that healthy food can be affordable and quick to prepare. In the first event, chefs will prepare a family meal on just $10 (typical SNAP budget for a family dinner); in the second, they will have chefs preparing healthy, three-course “gourmet” meals on a typical American dinner budget—$4.50 per person.
We are extremely excited that the White House is interested in pushing forward the dialogue on how cooking from scratch can be the most affordable and healthy option. And, lucky dogs, they’ve got a treasure trove of tips and tricks—compiled by you, the Slow Food community—available to them on our tumblr page.
We’d also like to see Kass, guest chefs Colicchio and others, as well as the Obamas, really dig deep into what’s really possible on that $4.50. What we heard from all of you was that:
...Whether you had a personal garden
Whether you are a farmer
Whether your friends and neighbors are farmers
Whether you belong to a CSA
Whether you live near a farmers market or good grocery
...all made a huge difference in terms of succeeding at the $5 Challenge. And not everyone has a CSA nearby or the space and time to start their own garden.
We hope the White House’s Great American Family Dinner Challenge acknowledges this “challenge” side of the issue, too. When federal policy is subsidizing the foods that are worst for us, and it’s easier in many communities to buy Froot Loops than it is to buy real fruit, it’s no wonder that cooking affordable meals is more challenging than it should be. Addressing those challenges is going to take all of us working together with the White House to fix the policies that stand in the way of making food truly good, clean, and fair for all.
Posted on Wed, September 21, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Author Anna Lappe makes a homemade organic egg/muffin sandwich and tries to answer the question: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it? And if so, what does that even mean for the nation’s poor?
by Anna Lappé
I hear it all the time: I can’t eat healthy; organic food is so expensive! Over the weekend, Slow Food USA brought together more than 30,000 people around the country to tackle this lament with the “$5 Challenge,” showing how we can eat well on five bucks. Sure, if you go to a Whole Foods in Manhattan you can be set back $20 bucks before you know it, and with little to show for it. But, as Team SFUSA helped reveal, there are ways to stretch your dollar and eat well.
Still, all this got me wondering: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it?
At a McDonald’s in Greenpoint, a friend pointed out to me, Egg McMuffins were going for $2.99. Seems cheap, right? (Of course, if you know much about our modern industrial food system and its costs, you’d know that this price tag doesn’t account for how much you and I are really paying: the billions in health care costs because of preventable diet-related illnesses; the billions more in pollution clean-up costs, largely from the factory farms producing the meat, including that McMuffin bacon. You get the idea.)
But let’s stick with the actual price: $2.99. And compare that with what it would cost to make an organic, homemade Egg Mc-ish-muffin.
I priced out the ingredients from a Brooklyn supermarket (not a Whole Foods, mind you) and calculated the specific price per ingredient based on a comparable portion size. The grand total for the organic, homemade one? $2.59. Yup, that’s forty cents less than the fast food “cheap” meal.
Posted on Sun, September 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place all over the country. Hundreds of people submitted photos as well as sharing what parts of the challenge were difficult and what made it difficult.
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place!
Click here to see photos from Hawai’i to Illinois to New York to Texas….from potlucks to family dinners to community suppers to food truck rallies,
No matter where they were or how they came together, they were all trying to answer the question: is it possible to make a healthy, local, and delicious meal for under $5 per person?
People got creative and brought their own flair to it—like Bear Braumoeller of Slow Food Columbus, who decided to take the $5 Challenge one step further. He attempted (and, SPOILER ALERT, succeeded) to create a sustainable $5 meal in 15 minutes—to show that sustainable cooking can be quick as well as affordable. Also he live tweeted it.
Bear wasn’t the only one tweeting his progress. Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, asked his 6,000+ followers questions like “My #5challenge dilemma: Cut which of these to make budget: 3 of 8 apples 4 tart? Squash (ergo soup)? Sausage 4 stuffed peppers (more rice)?”
Posted on Wed, September 14, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Slow Food Upstate leader Janette Wesley tells us what makes Earth Markets different from other farmers markets, how the project got started, and what’s next for the market.
Our chapter ran into a large dilemma when we were developing plans for the market which became our primary reason to see the realization of the project. At first we had reservations about starting a market in Greenville because our region has many established markets. As Earth Markets have a strict no-GMO policy, we began to discover, to our astonishment, there were no producers in the entire southeastern USA making a non-GMO animal feed. Therefore, many otherwise good producers of meat, cheese, poultry, and eggs were knocked out of the application process.
Although many farmers who raise animals or use animal products in their foods would be interested in being GMO-free, the closest source of non-GMO animal feed is in Ohio, rendering it too expensive and logistically complicated to be a viable feed option. We also discovered that “Certified Organic” gives an option if non-gmo feed is not available or too cost prohibitive to allow for GMO animal feed to be included under the certification, and we felt the consumer had a right to this information.
However as a result of our conversations, and the discovery of how widespread the conundrum goes, we now have formed a small group of producers who are looking for ways to manage this problem, and have an apple grower in North Carolina who has grown this summer non-GMO corn for feed, and which is now ready to harvest and mill.
Posted on Mon, September 12, 2011 by Intern
Slow Food NYC has gotten its hands dirty in school gardens throughout the city with its Urban Harvest program. This summer they took those organizing skills to South Africa to partner with a local school to build a garden that gets more fresh fruits and veggies into the cafeteria.
by interns Sasha Hippard and Alaena Robbins
Artworks for Youth, a volunteer driven not-for-profit based out of New York City, provides year-long after school art instruction to under-served students across South Africa. Last year, they became interested in starting school gardens due to a necessity they saw when the school district could no longer feed a meal to the children during the day. Instead of just continuing to provide meals to the students, Artworks for Youth approached Slow Food NYC’s chapter leader Sandra McLean to take on a garden project at one of the South African schools. Sandra’s mission was to travel to Joe Slovo primary school, located in the Joe Slovo township, and help develop a school “feeding garden” that would serve both educational as well as practical purposes. With the help of $800 from fundraising and anonymous matching donor, Sandra was able to get to South Africa and collect the supplies needed to get the project started.
Posted on Fri, September 09, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, Amy knew that her household food budget had to take a hit. She also knew that she didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with her family, and her friends. This is her story.
by Slow Food Rhode Island chapter leader Amy McCoy
There’s much to love about Slow Food – the story of its inception, Carlo Petrini and his band of hungry activists, doling out pasta at Rome’s Spanish Steps in protest of fast food (can’t you just see yourself, walking down the street, men and women with pots of pasta and pasta forks approaching you, asking if you’d care for a bowl with nonna’s sauce? How could you say no?), its evolution into an advocacy group, a group that cares about where our food comes from, that the people who grow and make our food earn a fair wage, and that good, clean, fair food be accessible to all.
Along with all of the other Slow Food devotees out there, I am passionate about these issues. How can you not be once you learn a little, and then a little more, about where your food comes from?
But if I’m being totally honest, the thing that initially lured me in – that got me hooked on Slow Food and its ideals – is that this is an organization dedicated to the love of food and the joy that sharing a good meal, made with care and high-quality ingredients, with friends and family could bring. You know that joy, too. The laughter and conversation, the smiling faces of your loved ones basking in the glow of a good meal. That’s as much a part of the enjoyment of food as is the flavor. And sharing that love – of food, family, and friends – was the biggest motivation for my food blog when I started it in 2008.
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, I knew that our household food budget had to take a hit. A sizable hit at that. Yet, I also knew that I didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with my husband, our extended family, and our friends. I also didn’t want to start shopping where the store’s values were different than my own just because the prices were lower on items like meat. I didn’t want to skip the farm stand or farmers market, and I still wanted to visit my friends at my favorite Italian market, even if Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto had to be relegated to special occasions only.
So a few adjustments were required. First, I set my weekly food budget. Then I did some research about sales. I became very familiar with the prices at the farm stand. I bought copious amounts of slightly blemished butternut squash from my farmer neighbors (and other fall vegetables, too, but, boy, did we eat a lot of butternut squash that first fall. Good thing we’re winter squash obsessed.). I made a meal plan for the week. The shopping list followed the meal plan. And I slapped myself silly – figuratively, of course, that would be over-the-top weird to whack myself in the store - every time I so much as looked at an item not on the list. “Stick to the list, only the list,” I chided myself.
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.