What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, March 12, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Thanks to all of those of you who wrote letters to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, urging him to acknowledge the slave labor conditions in Immokalee Florida.
After several months of resistance, and after the past week’s push (visits by food organization leaders and writers, including SFUSA President Josh Viertel; political theatre and press conference on the steps of the capitol in Talahassee), Gov. Crist has finally agreed to take a meeting with the CIW on March 25th.
From The News-Press: “What’s most important is what happens after the meeting,” worker Leonel Perez said. “We hope the governor can set the record straight that not a single case of slavery is acceptable in the 21st century - period - and that he can help us move the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange out of the way of our agreements with food industry leaders.”
Josh Viertel, president of New York-based Slow Food USA and part of a group of food advocates who visited Immokaee earlier this month, agrees. “We should be eating food with a story behind it that doesn’t make us lose our appetite,” Viertel said.
Stay tuned at CIW’s website for breaking news and reports, as well as comprehensive coverage of Josh’s visit last week and photos (everything from abysmal worker housing to shots of the tomato fields to pics of the delegation hearing about the issues from CIW members).
(photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou)
Posted on Mon, March 09, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
From time to time we get requests from people for a Slow Food reading list. In the days before the blog, there was the Slow Food Forum, and on it lived an evolving document to this effect. We’ve decided to compile a new list by asking some of our staff, Board of Directors, Advisory Board and friends: what inspired you to get involved in sustainable food? What inspires you still. Below are some of their answers.
Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USAAn Agricultural Testament
, by Sir Albert HowardThe New Organic Grower
, by Eliot ColemanMalabar Farm and Pleasant Valley
, by Louis BromfieldEpitaph for a Peach
(and others), by David Mas Masumoto
The Unsettling of America
, by Wendell BerrySmall is Beautiful
, by EF SchumacherEcological Literacy
, by David Orr
I read all of these during my junior and senior years of college when I first realized I wanted to learn about how food was raised and how it could be raised differently. They all blew my mind, opened me up to the connections between food and the environment and between food and politics and gave me solid grounding for discussing these issues, even though all the books are a decade or more old.
Posted on Thu, February 26, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This week we have been focusing on the Farm to College efforts around the country. Today, we shift our focus to K-12, where what is served in the lunchroom is also a) up for grabs and b) vitally important. Been in a school cafeteria lately? If you have you’ve seen that it is dominated by junk food, and reheated calorie-laden, carb-o-rific meals. A horrible school lunch is a lost nutritional/health opportunity, and a lost educational opportunity.
Last week you may recall that Debra Eschmeyer wrote a letter to Michelle Obama, letting her know about the upcoming reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Act, and calling for her interest and participation (the Childhood Nutrition Act establishes the guidelines for school lunch among other things). In order to take advantage of this moment, today as we post this, the Community Food Security Coalition, the National Farm to School Network, and School Food FOCUS are holding briefings on the Hill—with both the House and the Senate—to make the case for “supporting policy solutions that restore the right of all children to access good food in school; that educate and inform communities about healthy food and its impact on the wellbeing of children; and that connect farmers, school districts, food service companies, and great ideas to the food system delivering school lunch.” To read their excellent CNR briefing, click here and stay tuned for outcomes and reporting back on their day on the Hill.
Also, make sure you read Alice Waters’ and Katrina Heron’s Op-Ed in last week’s NY Times, in which they call for a radical overhaul of the school lunch program, saying “without healthy food (and cooks and kitchens to prepare it), increased financing will only create a larger junk-food distribution system. We need to scrap the current system and start from scratch. Washington needs to give schools enough money to cook and serve unprocessed foods that are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. When possible, these foods should be locally grown.”
Posted on Tue, February 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Are sustainable food advocates being punked?!
For more about this exciting news, read Steph Larsen’s comments on Ethicurean.
* n.b. no indication yet this will be an edible garden, but hey, suddenly we’re feeling like anything is possible.
Posted on Thu, February 12, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debra Eschmeyer
As First Lady you have the ability to set the table for what our nations children eat by adding a plank of food justice to your platform. Many ideas have already been sent your way, including starting an organic garden on the White House lawn and appointing a First Farmer. But where should you start?
I request that you make the health of our nations children your platform priority. Especially with two growing girls to nurture and nourish, you must understand that we will only be successful as a nation when all children in our country are healthy and well-fed.
You have the support of the 44th President. The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, was quoted yesterday in the Washington Post explaining President Obamas goals for the USDA, The vision is, he wants more nutritious food in schools. Vilsack went on to depict the role of local foods in that mission: In a perfect world, everything that was sold, everything that was purchased and consumed would be local, so the economy would receive the benefit of that.
You have a ripe opportunity to make great strides toward that vision with the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which is the federal legislation that establishes the guidelines for our nations school meal programs and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Every four or five years, theres an opening for all of those concerned with the health of our nations children to evaluate, defend, and improve the federal Child Nutrition Programs. That time is now as the current Child Nutrition Act expires in September 2009.
With at least 35 to 40 percent of childrens daily eating occurring during the school day, a reformed cafeteria could improve the health and increase the capacity to learn for the 30 million children that eat at school 180 days per year.
When you invited Chef Sam Kass into the White House Kitchen, your spokeswoman said he happens to have a particular interest in healthy food and local food. Mr. Kass has spoken out previously on the need to change the school lunch menu by decreasing the high levels of sugar and fat. Hes right.
Posted on Thu, February 05, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
If you could help end modern-day slavery in Florida’s fields with an email, would you? Slow Food is continuing to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a community worker rights organization based in Florida, in their latest campaign. For this new e-action campaign the CIW has teamed up with the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA), their student activist arm, to gather voices, young and old, as they request that Florida Governor Crist join the conversation to end modern-day slavery in the Florida fields.
The CIW has been campaigning to end poor farmworker conditions in Florida fields since their organizing began in 1993. The conditions faced by farmworkers in the Florida agricultural industry range from sub-poverty wages to actual modern-day slavery. In fact, the CIW has worked with the US Department of Justice on the successful prosecution of 7 cases of modern-day slavery over the past decade. While the CIW has been successful in pressuring seven major food giants including Subway, Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell to work with them to improve farmworkers’ pay and working conditions in Florida, the three most recent Governors of Florida have not joined the conversation surrounding these campaigns and the issues at the heart of these victories. Most inexplicable, Florida’s governors have remained silent on the prevalence of modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry in their state. Now the CIW is asking that everyone take advantage of the e-action campaign to encourage Governor Crist to step up and speak out, once and for all, against slavery in the fields.
Posted on Thu, January 15, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
OK, so we think we have figured out the problem. The reason that Capitol Hill has not been showing the love to small farmers, of late, is because they don’t know who small farmers are.
Remember years ago when George Bush Sr. (supposedly) went into a grocery store and had no idea what the scanner was at the checkout? As though he was Marty McFly (Back to the Future II) catapulted 40 years into the future—only problem was, he was in the present and totally unfamiliar with what the present looked like.
Well now we’ve got Pat Roberts (of the Senate Ag Committee, no less) at Tom Vilsack’s confirmation hearing, coming out with this gem—as out of touch as a Bush at a supermarket, I’d say:
The “small family farmer is about 5′2″
and hes a retired airline pilot and sits on his porch on a glider reading Gentlemans Quarterly he used to read the Wall Street Journal but that got pretty drab and his wife works as stock broker downtown. And he has 40 acres, and he has a pond and he has an orchard and he grows organic apples. Sometimes there is a little more protein in those apples than people bargain for, and hes very happy to have that.
What the @#$%^&*??!!
Check out the full scoop on Ethicurean, and then do as they say, which is to upload photos of yourself or farmers you know to Flickr, with the label “roberts_meet_small_farmers.” Let’s politely let Pat Roberts know that his vision of the small farmer may be a bit off.
[n.b. a quick look at Snopes revealed that the Bush/scanner story is…false! An example of media manipulation. Whoopsie.]
Posted on Thu, January 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Two ways to take action—act soon!
Posted on Mon, January 05, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
For The Future
by Wendell Berry
Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be.
That Wendell Berry, always keeping an eye forward, asking: are we doing now what we need to do to assure there will be a tomorrow? In yesterday’s NY Times, Berry teamed up with The Land Institute‘s Wes Jackson to talk about soil, and investing in it long-term. They point out that soil has no technological substitute and that more of it cannot be purchased it with money. It seems like basic stuff. Right?
Yet, meanwhile, over at the Chicago Tribune they’re also talking agriculture on their opinions page. In what seems like a rebuttal, former Senator George McGovern and Marshall Matz express doubts about sustainable agriculture’s ability to be all things to all people, with sustainable ag and commerical ag each having their place in the world. It ends with:
“We need to get beyond ideology and depend more on science. We need to develop a new understanding of agriculture based on our larger goals if we are to craft a long-term food and farm policy that works. Agriculture has a responsibility to adjust and contribute to improving the environment. But let’s stick to science and avoid an ideological debate about agricultural practices.”
Posted on Mon, December 29, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
If it helps, please insert
a) a drumroll
b) a celebrity reading the list straight to camera
c) a lot of enthusiasm, as indicated by the proliferation of exclamation points (!)
10) A New Office: The SFUSA staff enjoyed a move down two flights into a space double the size of our old one. Although we miss tripping over each other, we’re sure happy about having more room. Stop by and say hello if you’re ever in Brooklyn.
9) A New Baby: Finance Manager Kehinde Yeku welcomed the birth of her baby girl Ebu last May!
8) New States in the Union: Our first ever chapter in West Virginia.
7) Two Staff Weddings: Deena Goldman in June and Erika Lesser in November!
6) A New National Statute: This year, with the help of chapter leaders from around the country, we revised our national statute. It’s leaner, cleaner, and clearer.
5) Terra Madre: For the third biennial small-scale sustainable food producers conference, we brought over 700 US delegates with us, including a huge number under the age of 30.
4) A New Book: The publication of here for an article about in in the New York Times.
3) Can’t stop growing: 8,000 new members!
2) A New President: Nope, we’re not talking about Obama, we’re talking about Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA’s first ever President!
and the number 1 highlight of 2008…...
1) Slow Food Nation: Slow Food’s first US-based national scale event. With everything from sustainable street food to a victory garden on San Francisco’s Civic Center steps to star-studded discussion panels, Slow Food Nation brought San Franciscans—and the country—together in a conversation about the future of our food system. The event, our first annual, attracted over 85,000 people over the course of three days.
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.