What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, February 21, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Based on all the emails we got, Slow Food friends from around the country were captivated by the NY Times article about "slow design" a few weeks ago. It was such a hit that the San Francisco Chronicle also ran the story the following week.
It got us thinking about the intersections of Slow Food and design. The definition of "slow design" could extend even further than the Times article suggests.
For example, maybe recyclable cooking ware, as reported in Metroplis mag. You might not think of your plastic colander as sustainable, but if it's made in such a way that it can be recycled along with your empties, maybe it is?
Or how about the work of San Francisco-based design firm Futurefarmers? They are an innovative design collaborative that uses a portion of its profit to fund public projects, many of which explore the world of urban agriculture. Especially exciting, their Victory Gardens pilot project: "The program began as a utopian proposal and has now become a pilot project that supports the transition of backyard, front yard, window boxes, rooftops and unused land into food production areas. VG2007+ has the mission to create and support a citywide network of urban farmers by (1) growing, distributing and supporting starter kits for home gardeners, (2) educating through lessons, exhibitions and web sites and (3) starting and maintaining a city seed bank."
Finally, and this time back to the original article: Carolyn Strauss of Slow Lab, who is mentioned in the article, introduced one of her students to us last year and an interesting project was born. Whitney Stewart, then a student at Parsons School of Design, created a "Slow Lunchbox," for Slow Food on Campus students on the go, which she described as "a lunch carrier that is fun and easy to carry in a book bag and also which will hopefully inspire long-term use." Below is the veggie love graphic she designed for the portable tablecloth, and the pb and j graphic at the top of the post is hers as well:
Posted on Wed, February 20, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
"Only in America," points out Slow Food USA staffer Cecily, "is the choice between rent and food turned into an advertising gimmick."
And a question: is just one person meant to eat the two breakfast sandwiches AND the four cinnamon buns? Just checking.
On Sunday, as we all know, the largest beef recall in history. And papers around the country now advising consumers to "Eat local meat." Novel! For a nicely-put Q & A with Michael Pollan via Newsweek.com, click here.
As NYC-based site Gothamist puts it, it is all a moo(t) point–much of the meat had already been eaten. The waste (of recalled meat) is staggering, the videos (and the reality they reflect inside slaughterhouses) are upsetting. Incredulity all around.
Posted on Mon, February 18, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food Chicago member Anne Marie Klaske of NA-DA FARM (near DeKalb, IL) wrote to us about her family's unexpected encounter with the NAIS system.
An interesting reverberation and consequence that none of us might have anticipated. Please do jump in with your thoughts on this one:
I wanted to share w/SlowFood USA our family's experience lately with NAIS. We are just a small farm, with backyard 'pets' that provide us with our own eggs, and a horse and the kids pony…they aren't looking to go anywhere except to show them at the 4-H Fair. However, 4-H has complied with the NAIS's voluntary request to make it mandatory for all livestock to have a premises I.D. (the start to NAIS). My little 9 year old girl had been preparing to show Lady (her pony) this year at the fair, and because we don't want to participate in NAIS at all- with any form- she is unable to show her. We contacted the local 4-H leader of our county, and to our dismay, she explained they had to participate in the NAIS request because that is where they get a lot of their grant money. We are not only disappointed in the complacency of 4-H, but also how people just don't understand NAIS is a request, at least for now, and the more people who go along with the request the easier it will be for NAIS to be implemented for everyone, even the single Grandma living on her family farm who only owns one goat!
The amount of paperwork, expense, and just plain intrusion into our private homes/farms, is just wrong. Hopefully, as with anything new, people are looking into NAIS, not forgetting to look into the problems with that kind of system, instead of just taking it for the face value of helping: "provides producers and owners like you with a uniform numbering system for their animals to help manage them more closely." Any livestock owner, whether big or small, will tell you they manage their animals just fine now, without the government interfering, and for my daughter showing her pony at the fair, it's just plain unfair.
Posted on Sun, February 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80% of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai.
Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.
At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continue to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.
That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.
Haagen-Dazs, which is owned by Nestle, said bees are actually responsible for 40% of its 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split.
Now as we all know Nestle is not exactly world renowned for its feats of environmental heroics, but when major corporations who are not "on our side" - as it were - begin to notice what environmentalists have been saying and sometimes shouting about for a long time, it means that our message is finally getting through.
Perhaps the Chicken Little accusations will subside now that the corporate apologists wives' supply of white chocolate raspberry truffle could be interrupted
Posted on Wed, February 13, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
It's been a while since we've done any Farm Bill alerts, so here goes, since things are starting to get rolling again for the final push. Thanks to our friends at Community Food Security Coalition for keeping us all informed and in the loop.
The next step for getting this thing passed: members of the Senate and the House need to reconcile the differences between the versions that each body passed last year. When they come up with a single, decisive version, they'll then send it over to Bush, who many fear will veto the whole darn thing.
The conferees from the Senate side were announced this week. They are the top ranking (been around the longest) members of the Agriculture Committee - 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans:
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
If any of these Senators are from your state, it is still important to give them a call. Things to mention:
You can reach your Senator's office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Posted on Fri, February 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you've been gobbling up avocados in recent days, they're likely not California-born. Last winter, California's avocado crops were devastated by a harsh freeze. This past fall, with hopes of recouping their losses, farmers were hit again, this time by the widespread wildfires. The difference between freeze and fire, however, is that the freeze affects only the one crop/season, whereas the fire-burned trees might take three years to recover. Consumers probably have not noticed the effects (prices have not risen) because Mexico and Chile have stepped in to fill the void.
(Photo by Donna McLoughlin, using Puebla avocados purchased at the San Diego farmer's market.)
The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste recently "boarded" the Puebla avocado, which despite its name, can be found in the San Diego area, having been brought there from Mexico circa 1911. It was once quite popular, but was replaced by the hass variety which travels better because of its thicker skin. There were very few trees even before the fires, and now the numbers are down to a mere 10. Dennis Sharmahd, one of the few remaining Puebla producers, is hopeful that next year, trees might be available for sale.
11020 Bachelor Lane
Escondido, CA 92026
760-749-0792 or 760-317-7777
Beattie & Travis Avocado Co
1757 Warmlands Ave.
Vista, CA 92084-3630
Posted on Thu, February 07, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
More in meat news:
We all know the concept of a morality tax: tax cigarettes like crazy and people will stop smoking, raise taxes on gasoline and people will stop guzzling. Results are debatable. Now PETA is calling for a meat tax, which they're calling a "sin tax." Slow Food USA Ark-Presidia Committee member Emil DeFelice makes an argument in the Charleston City Paper that a meat tax misses the point. "All cigarettes are bad," he says, "but not all meat is bad."
How about a tax on industrial meat?
Addition: Here's a link to Dr. Temple Grandin's website, where you can read all about her work designing humane slaughter facilities and developing assessment criteria for animal handling.
(n.b. our post title comes from a quote from National Pork Board spokesperson Cindy Cunningham)
Posted on Tue, February 05, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Overheard walking down the NYC street yesterday: "I don't eat potatoes; it's a texture thing." A curious statement given the tremendous variety of potato preparation, not to mention potatoes themselves. Mashed potatoes, potato gratin, boiled potatoes, shredded and fried potatoes…the textures (and flavors) are endless. And did we mention…delicious?
Perhaps this–the glory of the potato–is what caused the UN to declare 2008 "The International Year of the Potato." Some people might argue for 1845 being the year of the potato (that's the Irish potato famine, for those non-history buffs out there), but that was about lack, and we'll hope that this one's about bounty. The UN made this decision and set up their website as part of a worldwide initiative to raise awareness about potatoes, and their ability to play a part in food security. As they say on their site: They're grown worldwide. They feed the hungry. They're good for you. Demand for them is growing.
Another interesting part of the site is the discussion of potato diversity and the discussion of genetic engineering of potatoes, side by side.
Slow Food USA has three potato varieties on its Ark of Taste:
The Green Mountain Potato, very popular in the latter half of the 19th century
Ivis White Cream Sweet Potato, an extremely endangered and unique variety and
The earthy, nutty, pacific northwest fingerling variety called the Ozette.
Posted on Mon, February 04, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
We found this fascinating photo essay via our friends at Slow Food Seacoast (photo at left not from the series). A photographer at The Chicago Tribune did a long term project photographing a family farm that eventually closed down– a demise he chronicled. Later, he had the serendipitous opportunity to return to the farm or, well, where the farm used to be. He did a second photo essay of the new family living there, who were living in one house of a newly built subdivision. The Trib shows the pics side by side and the effect is powerful.
Posted on Fri, February 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
A few weeks ago the UK's Guardian published a list of the 50 people who could save the planet. It's an eclectic and diverse spread including everyone from activist/matinee idol Leonardo DiCaprio to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to…our own Carlo Petrini.
Being a UK publication it leans towards Brits, but it's a great way to see that interdisciplinary work is what gets anything done; this list of economists, policy makers, rabble-rousers, clergymen, entrepeneurs and, yes, food activists, is testament to the need for collaboration in working against climate change.
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.