What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, July 17, 2012 by Slow Food USA
We’ve teamed up with Daniel Klein and the folks over at Perennial Plate to deliver monthly video stories, our first dispatch features highlights from An American Food (Road)Trip.
Nearly two-and-half years ago, Daniel Klein and his colleague Mirra Fine over at Perennial Plate set out to tell the stories of real food in the United States. In their first two seasons, they filmed several terabytes of coverage and more than 100 episodes in nearly every state. This season, they will embark on a bold new journey—telling the story of food culture internationally! Beginning this month, we’ll by teaming up with Perennial Plate, as a video content partner, for a regular monthly feature here on the Slow Food USA blog, lifting up new and interesting food stories told through video. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking back at some of our combined highlights. So without further ado, here’s one of their season recaps. And don’t forget to tune in next month for more fun from the road!
Posted on Tue, June 19, 2012 by Slow Food USA
How escaping the supermarket and finding a more pure form of beef transformed a non-meat eater into a beef conisior
Written by Lynne Curry, co-chair Slow Food Wallowas and author of the new cookbook Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut
In 2001, I moved from Seattle to the remote Wallowa Valley in eastern Oregon. I was drawn to the lifestyle of a small town mixed with artists, self-starters and ranchers and easy access to the wilderness. Cows and their newborn calves populated the landscape that spring, but I didn’t give them a second thought.
At the time, I didn’t even eat meat, and I certainly never expected to devote over two years to researching and writing about beef. Back then, beef was beef was beef. In the supermarket, all of it came from a single, centralized commodity supply chain controlled by four corporations.
In 11 years, beef has diversified into many niche markets—natural, organic and grassfed. Across the country, high-end restaurants now feature grassfed steaks, grocery chains sell a variety of natural and organic brands, and we all have more decisions to make at the meat counter.
Posted on Wed, November 30, 2011 by Slow Food USA
A carnivore confronts the morality of meat by getting his hands bloody.
by Slow Food USA intern Lloyd Ellman
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the following graphically describes the slaughter of a live animal.
“I kind of hold their heads in my hand as the bleed out.”
“I don’t know. I guess to comfort them.”
One of the farmers confessed this as I stood, drenched in the unforgettable perfume of singed feathers and coppery death, contemplating the bittersweetness of a most American ritual. In all, I held nearly 50 heads over the course of that day.
Today, it’s become easy to ignore the fact that an animal was killed to provide me with meat. Just consider the store-bought-sterile prepackaged chicken cutlets found in most supermarkets that resemble a chicken about as much as I do. This emotional disconnect, sometimes termed carnism, prevents real compassion for farmed animals and is something, I suspect, introspective eaters struggle with frequently. I decided to tackle the problem head-on in an ongoing quest to settle my conscious and discover some truths about how meat can be good, clean, and fair.
Each year the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a Hudson Valley farm close to my heart, raises two flocks of turkeys for Thanksgiving. One breed is the commercially common Broad Breasted White, a creature that embodies the perils of Frankensteinian hybridization (its legs are too short to allow it to breed naturally), but it remains tasty and, more importantly, buxom.
The second flock comprises the gamey and wild Bourbon Red, a majestic heritage breed that fell out of favor in the 1930s and has experienced a revival in popularity, spurred by the deep flavor of its well-used musculature. These would be our quarry.
How do you slaughter a turkey? It was the first question that I asked and, depending on the answer, it is one that can speak volumes. There are any number of horrible stories and videos of mega-farms abusing helpless, suffering animals. These are unforgivable transgressions, but provide a useful contrast to my experience.
The real work of the slaughter, I discovered, is done by hand, with a blade no bigger than a paring knife and the assistance of a stainless steel cone that holds the turkey securely. Following the well-practiced example of my tutor I cupped the back of the bird’s neck and pinched between the spine and the trachea, creating a depression of pocked skin soft enough to slide the knife through without damaging the animal’s air supply. It takes two cuts, one on either side of the neck, to sever the two carotid arteries and release a disconcertingly warm stream of red.
After a few minutes the turkey, looking more and more like meat at each step, was scalded, plucked, and sent off to be disemboweled, cleaned, and finally packaged for sale.
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 Thu, February 10, 2011 by Slow Food USA
This year February 14th is no longer “Valentines’ Day,” but Love your Farmer Day!
This year February 14th is no longer “Valentines’ Day,” but Love your Farmer Day, in support of the family farmers who raise our poultry. They need our help, so before we head out to buy teddy bears and chocolate hearts or make dinner for our loved ones, we’re calling the White House to demand that the USDA level the playing field for these farmers.
Won’t you join us?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking too long to implement rules that would level the playing field for small poultry farmers – it would protect them from big companies that force them to work harder for less and severely limits their options in raising and selling their livestock.
On Valentine’s Day, Monday February 14th, please take 2 minutes to call the White House and tell President Obama to level the playing field for poultry farmers.
Here’s how you do it:
HI! Happy Love Your Farmer Day! I’m ________ (name) from _________ (city and state or state) calling in support of the USDA’s livestock and poultry rule. Please tell President Obama to make sure that the USDA puts this rule into practice, so that our poultry farmers have a level playing field. Thanks!
Tell us how it went by leaving a comment below.
Want some more info about the rule, which you may have heard referred to as the GIPSA rule, and what it would do for poultry farmers? Read below:
1. Allows family farmers and ranchers to find out what prices and terms of sale are being offered for livestock.
2. Increases and ensures better market access for family farm livestock producers;
3. Identifies violations and leads to improved enforcement and curtailment of the most abusive and unfair procurement practices used by corporate meatpackers.
4. Stops a common practice that allows packers to avoid competitive bidding in the marketplace, keeping open market prices artificially low.
5. Prevents meat packers from paying large volume producers higher prices simply based on the number of animals they deliver without offering the same prices to groups of producers who could collectively deliver the same number of animals.
6. Prevents packers from offering favorable price premiums to a few preferred producers without offering them to other producers who could meet the same standards.
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 Wed, June 30, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Patrick Keeler
“You are what you eat.” It’s a trite aphorism amongst us sustainable food advocates, but never so literally has this adage been applied than in the new novel Animals by Don LePan.
We don’t often get the opportunity to digest fiction books about the food system at the SFUSA office, and one of my favorite genres is the utopian* or dystopian story, so with great enthusiasm I leapt at the chance to be among the first to read Animals.
Set in the 22nd century the premise of the novel is this: we’ve so terribly screwed up the food system due to our dependence on factory farming for the source of meats and proteins, that the result is mass extinction of our feedstocks. Pandemic disease and genetic engineering have wiped out all traditional sources of meat (and many vegetable products) in a matter of decades. Panic follows; there’s a deepening gap between the rich who can afford better alternative food and healthcare and those who cannot; there’s economic collapse along the entire supply chain of the meat-processing sector. Not to mention that genetic engineering (amongst other environmental ills) has led to a dramatic increase in the number of birth defects.
Panic about how the human race will survive sans meat in their diets, coupled with a crippled healthcare system now burdened with a 1 in 5 severe birth defect rate, leads to a deterioration of morality. Those with any birth defects or handicaps are classified as “mongrels,” and are kept either as family pets or are sent to “chattel pens.” You guessed it – those who can afford it eat human flesh. And with a new product to market, the former meat industry’s infrastructure is revived by demand for factory farmed human animals.
Posted on Tue, June 01, 2010 by Slow Food USA
For America’s remaining 30,000 poultry growers, the Department of Justice and USDA’s joint workshop on competition in the poultry industry held last Friday in Normal, Alabama has been a long time coming. For some, it arrived too late. As the second of five DOJ/USDA hearings to be held across the country this year, a number of attendees felt this hearing was more balanced than the previous hearing in Iowa, but still left many wondering what the overall impact these hearings would have in such a highly consolidated industry which continues to force so many family farmers out of business.
Of the seven chicken producers that opened the session’s morning Roundtable Discussion on Poultry Grower Issues, four of the farmers were “former producers,“which was a foreshadowing of the theme of the day; that poultry farmers daily face fear, uncertainty and intimidation from those companies they contract with, otherwise known as “integrators.”
In the weeks leading up to the Alabama workshops, many poultry farmers across the country reported threats from the broiler company representatives, warning them that they would face negative consequences if they spoke at the event, or even attended.
Sitting next to Secretary Vilsack, former North Carolina poultry grower Kay Doby told the audience, “The growers that are here today are in jeopardy because of intimidation by company personnel. They’re taking a big risk. Every grower here is taking a big risk.”
One poultry grower I spoke with the day before the event, refused to give the name of the company that he contracted under or even the state he lived in for fear that they would find out he attended the event. This type of intimidation is a clear sign of just how powerful and arrogant these companies have grown; that in the face of a Department of Justice investigation, they feel comfortable enough to make these types of threats to farmers simply trying to air their grievances to their government.
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, March 10, 2010 by Gordon Jenkins
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice will hold the first of five workshops to determine whether a handful of food and farming companies are exercising monopoly control over the industry. This is a big deal. If the Dept. finds that companies like Monsanto are violating antitrust law, regulators could move to break up the companies in order to protect farmers and consumers from further harm.
Fridays workshop takes place in Ankeny, IA, near Des Moines. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney will speak on a panel, as will a selection of crop and livestock farmers from around the country. (The farmers were added at the last-minute amidst outcries that a workshop about agriculture didnt feature any actual farmers.) Other panels will feature a Monsanto Vice President, a former President of the Iowa Soybean Association and a representative from the organization Food & Water Watch.
Farmer and consumer groups who are concerned that the Justice Dept. workshop is bent towards corporate special interests are organizing a Peoples Antitrust Hearing in Ankeny on the evening prior. At the event, Iowa farmers and community leaders will share their perspective on how food company monopolies lead to higher food prices and lower farmer profits.
In December, Slow Food USA joined other groups in asking the public to submit comments to the Justice Dept. The DoJ reported receiving over 15,000 comments, and has begun posting them online.
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.