What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, October 03, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Close your eyes a moment. Imagine the open road on a long drive before sunset, sleepy eyed, towing a back breaking, albeit glorious load of just-picked produce, only to find that a neighboring farm stand, traveling a mere hour, has brought to the table the same kabocha squash varietals that until now, made your weekly trip worthwhile. Not to mention, your office hours are now 6:00am to 6:00pm, if you're lucky. For many of you, this hits close to home.
As the peak season of farmer's market plenty rounds the corner, we reflect on the underbelly of the utopian model and a few of the complications that arise when scale walks the line between blessing and curse. Carol Ness, in the San Francisco Chronicle, explores the issue that some Bay Area farmers are having: the expansion and proliferation of markets has made a profit margin too narrow to justify the taxing 12-hour work days and growing detriment of duplicate offerings.
Posted on Wed, October 03, 2007 by Website Administrator
The healthy food magazine Cooking Light has published an article naming healthy food trends that "are here to stay," and our humble little organization is one of'em:
Launched in Italy 20 years ago by restaurateur Carlo Petrini, "slow food" was originally designed to protest the encroachment of fast food on the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle. The trend's principles — choosing locally grown and produced items, preparing them in traditional ways, and eating with friends and family — celebrate a relaxed approach to living that provides a welcome contrast to the fast-paced, eat-on-the-run lives many people lead.
Point of clarification here - Carlo is not a restaurateur. But that is neither here nor there…
Why it's here to stay: As with locally grown food, freshness is a key component of the slow food trend. "Investing the time to choose what's fresh that day will ensure that night's meal will be at its peak nutritionally," Stokes says. This principle applies whether you're making a family recipe or dining in a restaurant where the chef selects ingredients based on their seasonal availability. Family togetherness is also an important aspect of the trend. "Slow food is all about cherishing the eating experience and getting back to what food used to be: a vehicle for drawing people together," explains Sara Firebaugh, (former) assistant director of Slow Food USA.
What it means for you: Healthful whole foods are a great start, but slow food goes a step beyond good nutrition — and it's a difficult one to quantify. No scientific studies have conclusively proven that friends and family make better dinner companions than televisions, but the benefits are clear. "Slow food embraces the psychological component in food choices, meal preparation, and the act of eating," (Nutritionist Fern Gale) Estrow says. "A healthful diet isn't just about what you eat but how you eat it."
Yay for us! You can read all the trends, including a term that's new to me - "flexitarian" (?!?!?!) - by clicking here
Posted on Wed, October 03, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
On Sept 15 and 16, the US Ark-Presidia Committee (APC) members from around the country came together in Madison, WI to review, taste and board new foods to the Ark of Taste.
The Ark of Taste is a metaphorical craft designed to save –much like Noah, who saved breeds from extinction during the flood–endangered tastes and to celebrate them, by introducing them to the membership and then to the world, through media, public relations, and Slow Food events.
A wide range of flavors were celebrated in this year's nominations, from the Early Blood Turnip-rooted beet and Roy's Calais flint corn, to the Cotton Patch goose and Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter tomato.
Though the majority of Ark foods are boarded during the committee's yearly face-to-face meeting, nominations are reviewed and boarded throughout the year. Check out the Ark of Taste criteria and nomination form to learn more.
This year, the APC welcomed four new members: Arie McFarlen, Elissa Rubin-Mahon, Jennifer Hall and Emile DeFelice. You can read about them and their passion for Slow Food and the Ark of Taste: just click here!
Posted on Tue, October 02, 2007 by Website Administrator
Here's what ABC News travel correspondent Phoebe Natanson had to say about Cheese, Slow Food's festival of fermentation held every odd-numbered year in Bra, Italy:
A cheese fiend since childhood, I finally found the right occasion to indulge my passion and get certified doing it! I was off to Bra to smell brie, among other delicacies, and to take a Master in Cheese course.
When I arrived in Bra on a sunny Friday morning in September, hundreds of cheeses of different shapes and forms had been carted into the town by their producers and put on display, ready to be tasted by the crowd swarming the small streets and bustling piazzas. "E` una festa!" exclaimed a local shopkeeper as I wove my way amid the stands, and a party it was, a cheese fest.
Posted on Mon, October 01, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Bees pollinate at least one third of our diet. It is hardly surprising, then, that renting out colonies for pollination is many times more profitable than honey production—nearly $15 billion worth of crops utilize the insects every year.
American agriculture relies heavily on hives, which are piled into trucks and moved from coast to coast. California almonds, for example, depend entirely on bees. By 2012, it is estimated that 90% of current hives in the United States will be needed to pollinate the groves. Other dependent crops include blueberries, peaches, cranberries, squash, and pumpkins.
Thus, news spread quickly when, in late 2006, worker bees from Western honeybee colonies began to disappear. Hive afflictions are not uncommon, but colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a puzzling phenomenon because the worker bees vanish, leaving behind a queen, brood, and food stores that are not immediately robbed by other bees.
According to a recent study, a virus likely triggers the disorder. Researchers caution, however, that there are probably a variety of factors and not a singular cause. Toxins, pesticides, stress, genetic tampering, and other woes of commercial beekeeping are all suspected.
For more about bees and honey, click here to get to our Take Action page.
UPDATE: Check out this bleak assessment of the problem on AlterNet, October 16th.
Posted on Fri, September 28, 2007 by Website Administrator
Tell that to Arkansas:
The Slow Food perspective is that a lifestyle shift is needed — one that involves stopping to smell the basil. Instead of grabbing a burger at a drive-through, and eating on-the-go, we will have more fun and advance sustainability at the same time if we get to know our farmers and buy local food, support local food traditions and heritage agricultural varieties and breeds, and re-establish meals as social events. Ozark Slow Food wants to both celebrate and promote local food and good eating.
The Fayetteville Free Weekly goes on to say…
The Slow Food movement reached Northwest Arkansas before the name did. Although some people still believe that fruit and vegetable production departed this region many years ago, today a dozen farmers' markets are operating in NWA. And the number of markets, growers, and shoppers continues to rise. Increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables comes at the right time. Concerns about obesity among all age groups in Arkansas is encouraging more people to eat more fruits and vegetables, and none are better than those eaten fresh from local farms.
And local chefs and food lovers are in on it too:
One of those chefs is Vince Pianalto. "I have always been a fan of the Slow Food movement as long as I have been in the foodservice business," Pianalto said. "I was bolstered by the attendance at the first Slow Food event at my bakery in June, but never imagined the response. I expected around 50 people when over 130 arrived. Wow! Northwest Arkansas is obviously ready for a chapter of Slow Food."
Posted on Wed, September 26, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
A bike trip along the river Po sounds like a picturesque way to spend a few weeks on holiday. But what if this were school? What if your gastronomy professor were on the bike next to you, and the delicious local meals you stopped to enjoy were coursework?? For many of us, the prospect of biking along the aquatic lifeline of Italy, learning about the river, and the food traditions in the community along it, sounds like a terrific break from work, but for students at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, it IS work (schoolwork, that is).
The University of Gastronomic Sciences was founded by Slow Food in 2003 to offer the first ever gastronomic degree. Continuing in this trailblazing tradition, the students and teachers of the University have just embarked on an innovative 3 week, 650 km trip along the Po to examine how the river is changing due to environmental impact, and climate change. Read more about the trip here, and here.
Posted on Wed, September 26, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
In the 2 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Slow Food leader/enthusiast/activist Poppy Tooker has been fighting hard to revive New Orleans food communities. One such community is the East New Orleans Vietnamese community, that is home to an outstanding farmers' market that is held at the crack of dawn every Saturday morning. Instrumental in the rebuilding of this market has been Father Vien thé Nguyen, who is the pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church there.
In April of 2007, at a Vietnamese brunch, Poppy presented the church with $5,000 from Slow Food USA's Terra Madre Relief Fund, to go towards rebuilding the market and community garden there. Click here to watch a short video of the brunch, which includes some great footage of delicious, homemade Vietnamese food.
Also interesting: from the Southern Foodways Alliance website, an interview with Peter Nguyen, the manager of the community garden and farmers' market.
Posted on Mon, September 24, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
Any regular frequenter of restaurants knows that the fish we eat are subject to trends. For stretches of time certain fish will be "go-to" foods, and then suddenly they're gone, replaced by something else. One day "Chilean Sea Bass" (actually Patagonian Toothfish, a less sexy name) started appearing on menus. And less than 10 years later, many chefs banded together to take it OFF their menus since it had been overfished, practically into extinction.
Once upon a time, people ubiquitously ate canned sardines. By the 1950's, they had been replaced by canned tuna. What ever happened to sardines?
In his article in the Atlantic Monthly, Slow Food advisory board member Corby Kummer goes in search of fresh sardines, and does taste tests of canned ones. He explores the demise of sardine populations and the resulting shuttering of cannery row in Monterey.
The article is interesting on many fronts. As we study and fret about the collapse of bee populations, maybe there is a lesson here in population ebbs and flows? Also good for chefs to think about reintroducing sardines onto menus–the populations are healthy again, and need not only be used as food for larger fish, such as tuna. Kummer argues for their health benefits, sustainability, and ultimately, deliciousness. A perfect slow food…
Posted on Fri, September 21, 2007 by Jerusha Klemperer
While some may wax nostalgic over the peculiar texture found only in the salisbury steak of our formative years, two self-proclaimed "angry" moms are doing more than their part to save the school lunch from its current state of despair. After being banned from her daughter's school cafeteria, where the only fresh, whole foods were found in home-packed, insulated totes, Susan Rubin and her pal Amy Kalafa embarked on a mission to educate and inspire those who remain at the frontline of the school food crisis: the moms. They have used film as their medium (a hybrid expose/how-to) to look inside the perilous system and highlight the potential positive ripple-effect that only a home-grown, truly reformed, nutritious school food menu could have. While the film is temporarily caught in distribution deals, the moms encourage all who support the fight for a "slow" school menu and healthier kids to host a screening in their community, getting folks appropriately "angry" and inspired for change.
Details on the message and the movement, along with great resources to get started on your own uprising can be found on their website.
For a concise assessment of the dismal school lunch situation and how it got that way, see Tom Philpott's article in Grist.
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.