What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, January 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
What we’ll be talking about this year: Marion Nestle outlines her predictions for the top food news issues for 2010.
Sustainable chef gets a mainstream nod: Yum Sugar readers name Rick Bayless male chef of the year.
Posted on Tue, December 29, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
I just wrote the Department of Justice a long email detailing how, as a consumer, I am affected by corporate control of the food supply. Now it’s your turn. Your voice absolutely matters: they are looking to hear from “average citizens.” Like you. Like me! This is our chance to tell them what’s wrong.
For more details, click here to see our post from last week.
(Many thanks to the US Food Crisis Working Group who have put together sample letters and more topic ideas at www.usfoodcrisisgroup.org)
Posted on Thu, December 17, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Now is our chance to speak up. For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Justice is on a fact-finding mission looking at how big business controls food and farming—and they want to hear from YOU before December 31st.
Maybe you’ve noticed prices rising at the supermarket even while most big food companies made record profits this year;
Maybe you are a farmer who has trouble getting your meat to market because there are no small-scale processing facilities in your region;
Maybe you’re concerned about food safety and the spread of bacteria like E. coliwhich happens much faster when meat and vegetables are processed in big centralized locations;
Maybe your local farm has gone out of business because it couldnt compete with the prices set by industrial farms and consolidated buyers.
And you probably know consumers having trouble finding good food at affordable prices, as well as farmers having trouble getting good food into mainstream markets. Please reach out to them today: the Department of Justice needs to hear their stories.
They are specifically seeking comments and stories about how corporate control of the food system affects average citizens. If you’re concerned that just a few big businesses have so much power over where your food comes from and how it’s produced, be a citizen: tell the government! Your comments will help to inform a series of workshops on the issue in the coming year.
(Many thanks to the US Food Crisis Working Group who have put together sample letters and more topic ideas at www.usfoodcrisisgroup.org)
Posted on Mon, November 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by SFUSA President, Josh Viertel
Jonathan Safran Foer and I hold nearly the same beliefs about eating meat. That said, I have a freezer full of goat necks, marrow bones, and pork belly, and he decidedly does not. You see, I eat meat and Jonathan doesn’t.
There is a simple and true notion underlying Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals: people should eat according to their values. Foer’s argument basically goes like this: Everyone has values. Apply your values to the choices you make about food. Sure, everyone’s values are different, but the truth is anyone’s values will do. The problems with food and farming—in particular farming and eating meat—aren’t caused by people holding the wrong values; they are caused by people not applying the values they hold. I agree with him.
[to read the rest of this article, please go to the Huffington Post, where it was first posted]
Posted on Wed, November 04, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Emily Stephenson
The USDA is preparing to implement new legislation soon that will allow slaughterhouses with 25 or fewer employees to ship meat across state lines. At first the news seem innocuous, but it is in fact very exciting for both small farmers and those who support them.
The groundwork for this bill was laid out under the 2008 Farm Bill, which set aside 5 percent of USDAs business and industry loan guarantee program for local food production, providing the initial building blocks for the Know Your Farm Know Your Food initiative. Deputy USDA Secretary Kathleen Merrigan credits Congress with providing the initial impetus for the program, though she herself deserves quite a bit of credit too.
“Restoring the link between consumers and local producers will not only open new income opportunities for small farmers and generate wealth that will stay in rural communities, it will also expand access to healthy, fresh, and locally produced food,” said Merrigan.
Know Your Farmer Know Your Food was launched in September of this year, and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes the $65 million program will begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity. By connecting local consumers with their local food producers, local wealth stays in local economies, and rural communities get revitalized. The money has been available in previous years, but the program aims to create a one stop shop for local food issues. And while the initiative does nothing to address the practices of industrial agriculture, its great to see small and local getting such well-deserved attention and support.
The news surrounding state-inspected slaughterhouses is particularly groundbreaking. Currently, 27 states operate meat or poultry inspection programs, and FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Services) confirmed that the state programs requirements are “at least equal to” those under the federal meat and poultry products inspection acts. For these programs, FSIS provides up to 50 percent of the state’s operating funds, as well as oversight and enforcement. State-inspected establishments that are not selected for the voluntary program, including state-inspected establishments with more than 25 employees, will remain eligible only to sell and ship their products within their state.
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 Thu, October 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debbie Lehmann, the editor of School Lunch Talk, a blog about school food. She is currently studying economics and public policy at Brown University.
Ive been feeling relatively optimistic about the USDA commodity program lately. Offerings are heavy on the meat and the cheese, but they have gotten much healthier over the years. When it comes to providing nutritious food, it seems like cafeterias face larger obstacles, such as maintaining student participation and keeping within tight budgets.
Well, at least thats what I thought until this weekend. Now, after reading The New York TimesҠterrifying report about the ground beef inspection system, I am convinced that the commodity program has a critical role to play in changing the school food status quo.
The Times article a scathing indictment of both the meat processing system and our food safety system traced the meat from a hamburger that sickened 22-year-old Stephanie Smith and left her paralyzed for life. The ground beef was produced by Cargill under the label American Chefs Selection Angus Beef Patties, and it was contaminated with a virulent strain of E. coli.
A number of sickening flaws in the meat processing system led to the E. coli in Stephanie Smiths hamburger. Notably, the meat in Cargills patties was a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria. The Times goes on:
Those low-grade ingredients are cut from areas of the cow that are more likely to have had contact with feces, which carries E. coli, industry research shows. Yet Cargill, like most meat companies, relies on its suppliers to check for the bacteria and does its own testing only after the ingredients are ground together. The United States Department of Agriculture, which allows grinders to devise their own safety plans, has encouraged them to test ingredients first as a way of increasing the chance of finding contamination.
Posted on Mon, July 13, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Your mentors (Pollan, Nestle, Lappe) have urged you to eat more plants and less meat, for the health of ourselves and the health of our planet. You have, perhaps, nodded in agreement, then forked in another mouthful of meat.
How to put your money where you mouth is?
Many find that making a declaration or taking a pledge can help firm up their commitment and hold them accountable. This Monday, I introduce to you the Meatless Monday pledge. The Meatless Monday campaign is an initiative created in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
The website dishes up the facts—on personal and environmental health benefits—as well as tips, incentives, recipes etc. and summer is a great time to begin—when farm fresh produce is abundant and delicious.
Take the pledge today; make this Monday your first meatless Monday.
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 Tue, June 09, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
There are a bunch of sustainable food documentaries that have been kicking around our circles for a few years now. Some of them are very good—enlightening, celebratory, inspiring, damning. But we all have probably wondered: who sees these but the proverbial choir?
Filmmaker Robert Kenner, along with producers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, is making a go at hitting the big time,—i.e. lots of viewers, even ones outside the usual circles—with his movie “Food, Inc.” The movie, which opens in NYC San Fran and LA on June 12th, got some primetime coverage in the New York Times this past weekend. The Times article will help the word spread, but so can you. Go see the movie, and while you’re at it, go tell some others to see the movie.
Participant Media is a unique production company in that they release their movies as part of a social action campaign. Remember “An Inconvenient Truth?” This time around they are focusing on food issues of all shapes and sizes. The movie touches on many issues, including violations of farmworkers’ rights; aggressive litigiousness on the part of large agribusiness; food safety; the role of industrial organic; and some straight up weird stuff like an irradiated fat slurry that goes into most hamburger meat produced in this country. The main theme, as the title suggests, is what goes wrong when corporations control the food system.
Along with the movie they have released a companion book with the subtitle: “How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer—And What You Can Do About It.” It includes pieces by many of the faces in the movie, like Eric Schlosser, Gary Hirshberg (of Stonyfield Farm Organic), and farmer Joel Salatin, as well as a few people and organizations who did not have face time in the movie, such as Heifer International and United Farm Workers.
In addition, they are focusing on improving school lunch and the Child Nutrition Act’s Reauthorization—you can check out their “interactive cafeteria” and sign their school lunch petitionhere.
With movies like this, it’s important to head out the first few days they’re open, so run out this weekend and see “FOOD, Inc.” if you haven’t already.
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.