What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, June 01, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
Back in February, Michelle Obama unveiled Let’s Move!, her campaign to end childhood obesity. As part of this effort, President Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity, whose job it was to develop a roadmap to tackle the problem. This May, after three months of research, including input from 12 federal agencies and 2,500 submissions from the public, the Task Force released their plan outlining benchmarks, strategies, and actions to reduce the rate of obesity in children to 5% by 2030.
The 124-page report, entitled “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation,” includes 70 recommendations for actions for both the public and private sectors to take. The recommendations fall under the four key areas of concern Mrs. Obama announced earlier in the year: Healthy Choices (Empowering Parents and Caregivers), Healthier Schools, Physical Activity, and Access to Affordable Healthy Food. The Task Force added a 5th area of concern, Early Childhood, because research shows that around one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they reach age six, and over half of obese children become overweight before their second birthday. Here’s the full report, and here’s an excellent short summary of the recommendations.
Like many other public health professionals, I am optimistic about this report, but cautiously so. It is clear that when it comes to approaching the obesity epidemic, the Obama Administration gets it. Most of the Task Force’s recommendations focus on creating an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice instead of the difficult one. Jane Black of the Washington Post writes, “The new report has some serious policy implications. Yet the administration so far has shied away from getting its hands dirty in political and legislative fights in this particular arena.” The big question is, does the government have the willpower to do what needs to be done?
Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 by Intern
by intern Shauna Nep
As anyone in my life will attest to, I talk a lot about the benefits of a neighborhood farm for a community. However, it is not often that I have the opportunity to contribute hands-on to the creation of one.
Fortunately- I had the chance to get my hands deep in the dirt last Friday as I joined an inspired and diverse group of volunteers in building a Neighborhood Farm at Ujima Community Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Slow Food NYC has adopted the Ujima garden, which has become overrun with inhospitable weeds, to create a youth farm.
Sandra Mclean, Slow Food NYC’s Leadership Committee Chair, shared with us their plan for the farm, which includes a spiral vegetable bed (um- awesome!), a flagstone meeting area surrounded by a “Three Sisters Garden”, a chicken coop, bees, and even bean teepees that are big enough to crawl inside of. Slow Food NYC will use this amazing space to host a “Good Food and Gardens” program this summer, and WATCH high school students will care for it in the fall.
As we spent the day cutting brush, digging out stumps, clearing rocks and chopping down trees, I was mindful of how my small role would contribute to the big picture: the creation of a farm and a beautiful space to be used, enjoyed, and cared for by the community.
I cannot wait to see how it turns out.
Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 by Intern
by intern Christine Binder
The Food Movement, Rising – New York Review of Books
Michael Pollan’s epic essay charting the emergence and character of the food movement.
Oil reaches Louisiana shores (PHOTOS) – Boston Globe
Over one month after the initial explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil slicks have slowly reached as far as 12 miles into Louisiana’s marshes.
Congresscritters Come Out Against GE Alfalfa – La Vida Locavore
Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Pat Leahy are circulating a letter to Tom Vilsack opposing the USDA’s decision regarding GE alfalfa.
Ohio Farmers Unhappy With Attack on Corn Sweetener – Associated Press
Food companies that remove high-fructose corn syrup from their products threaten the jobs of farmers in Ohio, the nation’s No. 7 grower of corn, state agriculture leaders say.
The Slaughterhouse Problem: is a resolution in sight? – Food Politics
After years of hearing sad tales about the slaughterhouse problem, it looks like many people are trying to get it resolved.
A Movable Beast – NY Times
Organic, grass-fed meat is much in demand in Manhattan restaurants, but little of it is local.
Ohio dairy farm worker charged with animal cruelty – Washington Post
An Ohio dairy farm worker has been charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals after a welfare group released a video it says shows him and others beating cows with crowbars and pitchforks.
In E. Coli Fight, Some Strains Are Largely Ignored – NY Times
As everyone focused on controlling E. coli O157:H7, the six rarer strains of toxic E. coli were largely ignored.
DC rejects soda tax but funds better school food – Grist
The Washington, D.C. city council yesterday agreed to fully fund a recently approved “Healthy Schools” initiative but not with a controversial “soda tax” as had been proposed. Rather, the city will begin imposing a more traditional sales tax of 6 percent on all soft drinks sold in the District.
Michelle Obama applauds food industry group’s pledge to trim calories – Washington Post
In a direct response to Michelle Obama’s declared war on childhood obesity, an alliance of major food manufacturers on Monday pledged to introduce new, more healthful options, cut portion sizes and trim calories in existing products.
Posted on Wed, May 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Greetings from Detroit, where I’m attending the 5th Annual Farm to Cafeteria conference.
On Monday, as a lead-up to the conference, I acted as one of the judges for the Healthy Schools Campaign Cooking Up Change contest, in which 3 high school finalist teams, and two college finalist teams competed to create the best (tastiest, most innovative, and in line with school purchasing and IOM nutrition standards) healthy school lunch. Any of you who have been following our Time for Lunch campaign and the battle in Congress right now for more money for school lunch know that making a healthy and delicious school lunch for only $1—what’s left after overhead & payroll—is incredibly hard. The kids were articulate and adorable and cooked up some tasty treats! The highlights for me were a chicken breast crusted with pesto and, yep, corn flakes; a cornbread casserole with beans, cheese, and tomatoes; and the winner, a meal that included a tepary bean quesadilla! You can read an interview with the kids here, and please note that their supremely delicious beans are a Slow Food Ark of Taste product.
I kept hearing about this beautiful movie, “Grown in Detroit,” and the amazing and inspiring school that lies at the heart of the film. Tonight I got to see the movie, as part of a conference-run movie night complete with Applegate Farms hotdogs (delish), popcorn and root beer. I left the theatre with a DVD clutched in my grasp, to show to all of my friends and colleagues, and anyone else who wants to borrow it. Catherine Ferguson Academy, run by Asenath Andrews, the principal we all wish we had, is a public school in Detroit for pregnant teens and their babies. The school has a farm ( a “big garden with animals” says Andrews), one that teaches lessons in life cycles, business, biology and hard work; that provides revenue for the school and its students; and that brings fresh, delicious food into a community that finds these foods in short supply. Food is the palette here for myriad learning opportunities—including, as one girl mentioned at the talk-back after the showing, that by taking care of these farm animals she learned about taking care of her own daughter. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Ms. Andrews, the beautiful and thoughtful girls both in the movie and on the panel tonight, and about this movie, which you can see by going to this web site and paying what you can (how cool is that?), or by organizing a screening in your community.
Posted on Mon, May 10, 2010 by Slow Food USA
It’s hard to keep track of all the food and farming news each week – especially if you’re a busy Slow Food volunteer. Our staff has begun compiling all the important food news we see, so Slow Food members can stay up-to-date. Here’s last week’s big news:
Monsanto pesticide-poisons give rise to “superweeds”Rise of the Superweeds (NY Times)
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.
And in response…NYT’s superweeds coverage is welcome but myopic (Grist)
It’s a happy day when the New York Times treads some of Grist’s well-worn paths. This time, it’s about how overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has given rise to “superweeds” and an exhausting chemical treadmill.
Food & Farm Policy
VIDEO - Veggies Gone Wild! (Human Rights Watch)
Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States. They often work 10 or more hours a day with sharp tools, heavy machinery, and dangerous pesticides. Farmworker children drop out of school in alarming numbers.Senators Challenge Know Your Farmer Program (Ag Law)
Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia, Ranking Minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack challenging the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. The letter notes that “[w]hile the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmers program.” The Senators complain that the program does not direct funding to “conventional farmers” but instead is “aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”Supreme Court hears arguments on genetically modified seeds (LA Times)
The battle over genetically modified crops is being waged before the U.S. Supreme Court—the first time the nation’s highest court is specifically weighing in on genetically modified organisms and the federal approval process that allows them to roll out from the laboratory to the nation’s farm fields.Where do farm subsidies go? Now we know! (Food Politics)
Yesterday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the latest update of its highly entertaining farm subsidy database. The links cover $245 billion in federal farm subsidies distributed from 1995 -2009. The site lets you search for subsidies by state, county, congressional district, and specific farm, and by commodity. There is also a national summary.
School FoodD.C. Council approves tough school lunch, exercise standards (Washington Post)
The D.C. Council unanimously approved stringent school nutrition and exercise standards on Tuesday. The measure calls for District public and charter schools to add more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the meals of about 71,000 students. It also encourages schools to buy food from organic farms in Maryland and Virginia, adds thousands of students to the free-lunch program and will eventually triple the amount of time that students have to spend exercising.
An E. coli outbreak possibly linked to tainted lettuce has sickened at least 19 people in Ohio, New York and Michigan, including students on three college campuses, prompting a recall throughout much of the country.
Posted on Thu, May 06, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
The next Farm Bill isn’t supposed to come until 2012, but Congress started work on it last month, two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. Not surprisingly, no one’s asking everyday people or everyday farmers what they want from the bill.
Yet we’re the ones who stand to lose if Congress passes another Farm Bill that prioritizes corporate profit over healthy farms and healthy people. It’s time we got up to speed, and started speaking up.
Here’s where you can go to catch up:
Farm Policy, a daily newsletter about food and farm policy. Sign up for the email service and you’ll receive everything you need to know about what’s going on in D.C. It’s a ton of information, but worth skimming each morning.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog. Slow Food USA is a member of the coalition, and our staff relies on their blog for policy news.
The Farm Bill and Beyond, an outstanding and very comprehensive report about how the 2008 Farm Bill came to be. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading if you want some insight on how the next fight will play out.
Slow Food USA’s staff is weighing strategies for the next Farm Bill. It’s imperative that we start by listening to farmers and coming to some mutual goals – otherwise, we risk dividing ourselves when ultimately we’re all working towards a common vision.
What are the farmers in your area saying? Post your comments below.
Posted on Wed, May 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Imagine AmeriCorps service members building and tending school gardens and developing Farm to School programs for public schools around the country.
That’s the vision for FoodCorps, a new project in a year-long planning phase; I’m proud to say Slow Food USA is a part of it!
Our next open conference call to discuss the planning process is tomorrow. Catch up on the latest news about the program’s development and find out how you can get involved. The topic of this week’s call is an overview of the structure of the FoodCorps planning process and information on ways you can become involved.
This Thursday May 6, 5pm Eastern
Call (605) 475-4333
Enter code 571334#
For More Information:
Also, follow us on twitter: @foodcorps
Posted on Mon, May 03, 2010 by Intern
by intern Lila Wilmerding
Among other organizations, Maple Avenue School in Newark, New Jersey has partnered with Slow Food Northern New Jersey to integrate growing vegetables, healthy eating, and fitness into the everyday curriculum. Since the beginning of this past school year, the chapter has worked with the school to bring grow boxes to classrooms and organize lectures and visits from farmers.
This “Growing Minds” project—which includes sprouting mung beans and keeping diaries of the classroom grow boxes—is fueled in large part by enthusiastic teachers like Natasha Parilla, who has worked hard to bring food and gardening into the school’s K-8 classrooms. Before the program started, the teachers attended a half-day training session on using the grow boxes as a classroom tool and then worked together to integrate what they had learned into the state-mandated curricula. According to Margaret Noon, leader of the Slow Food Northern New Jersey chapter, this connection to people who know and understand the school system has been fundamental to the success of the program.
Recently, Newark Beth Israel’s Kid Fit Program, Scholastic Books, and Slow Food Northern New Jersey collaborated with Maple Avenue School to organize an event called Eat, Grow, & Go. During the course of a day, over 500 students at Maple Avenue were taught to grow potatoes in buckets by a nearby organic farmer, learned about egg production from a local kilt-wearing farmer while passing live chickens around the classroom, and sampled local organic carrots, salad turnips, and potatoes.
It’s hard to believe that such a well-developed project has come together in just one school year. But Slow Food Northern New Jersey is not finished yet—Maple Avenue’s success has caught the attention of the Newark Superintendent of Schools, hopefully paving the way for similar programs at other schools in the area.
Posted on Fri, April 30, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Yonatan Landau
Think of the last time you saw something that pissed you off enough to do something amazing about it. Maybe it was a long grocery line or a bumper sticker for the Tea Party, or maybe it takes a humanitarian crisis like Haiti to really get your adrenaline going.
For me, it was orange chicken.
A year ago, I found out that UC Berkeley’s first national fast food chain, a Panda Express, was slated to open its doors adjacent to the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Like Slow Food in reaction to a McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome, we rose to the occasion.
We dredged up some surprising details (all Panda’s menu items except steamed rice are over 50% fat; even their steamed veggies are cooked in meat) and drew hundreds of students to protest. We also gave the administration something they could say yes to: we raised over $100,000 for a student-run café and sustainability hub. The administration eventually rejected the chain, and the Berkeley Student Food Collective was born.
Now, this summer, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed) will train student leaders on campuses around Northern California to create local, organic, community-run cafes on their campuses. Imagine students hosting fermentation workshops and panels of local food movement leaders in the same space that they and their friends buy an affordable, organic salad and fair trade coffee for lunch (check out the lovely Sprouts Cafe in Vancouver or the raucous Maryland Food Collective).
A best-practices business plan for a financially sustainable platform for campus food movement organizing - a community-run cafe.
A support network of food system stakeholders and activists dedicated to a just and sustainable food system. CoFed is has formed alliances with these organizations: Slow Food on Campus, Slow Money, Real Food Challenge, FeelGood, Food Coop 500, California Students for Sustainability Coalition, The Food Alliance, United Farm Workers, Veritable Vegetable, The California Center for Cooperative Development, Hazon, Thanksgiving Coffee.
An intensive, peer-based training: June 15-20th, CoFed will host an intensive boot camp in Northern California, bringing together students from all around the West Coast. Participants will be mentored by local farmers and chefs, create a plan for their campus food co-op, and build their project teams.
Posted on Wed, April 28, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama, a group of former military generals, and 550,000 others agree that Americas schools need help serving healthier school lunches. Yet the Child Nutrition Bill on Congress docket this year is stalled in the Senate and completely absent in the House.
Polls show that voters are strongly in favor of healthier school food. Congress just needs to get the message.
The legislators who need the most encouragement are those who sit on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. They hold the keys to a strong Child Nutrition Bill with full funding for healthier food. If your Congressperson sits on one of these committees, please take three minutes to call up their office and voice your support. Weve made it easy for you by writing instructions and a sample message, which you can download here (for Ed & Labor), or here (for Ways & Means).
If your Congressperson doesnt sit on either Committee, you can still help out. Right now, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking Speaker Pelosi to take some leadership on this issue. 167 Representatives have signed the letter already. If your Representative hasnt, please urge him or her to do sign it before Friday, April 30.
And as always, you can ask your friends to email their legislators via the form on our Time for Lunch Campaign web site.
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.