What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, September 10, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by youth programs intern Heather Teige
Students, as you transition back into a new school year and find yourselves thinking about exciting opportunities and events to organize on - campus, take a closer look at Food Not Lawns, The Beehive Design Collective, and Fair Food Across Borders.
Founded by Heather C. Flores, Food Not Lawns’ goal is to encourage and promote food sustainability by growing food in our own backyards. They focus on deepening community ties through gardening and offer advice on how to start a local Food Not Lawns chapter, as well as the how-tos of organizing a community seed swap.
The Beehive Design Collective is a grassroots collective that works by creating social discourse through images. Their belief is that images are a more accessible medium, and that they allow people-despite their social background- to better engage urgent social matters. On an international level they are most known for their graphic campaigns which address globalization and the global justice movement.
Fair Food Across Borders is a Chiapas Media Project (CMP)/Promedios advocacy campaign geared to expose human rights injustices inflicted on Mexican migrant workers by Mexican agribusiness camps. They aim to accomplish this by providing video equipment and training to marginalized indigenous populations in Southern Mexico so that they may create their own media.
Be sure to keep a lookout as all three of these initiatives will be touring this fall. Securing a visit to your campus would create a greater campus awareness of current issues, the opportunity to engage them in a creative manner, and the possibility of making great connections.
[images courtesy of Fair Food Across Borders (Rodrigo Cruz) and The Beehive Design Collective]
Posted on Tue, September 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA President, Josh Viertel
This post originally appeared on the Atlantic Monthly Food Channel, the day before the National Day of Action for the Time for Lunch campaign. Check out the Food Channel for Corby Kummer’s reflection on the first Eat-in, a year ago.
I was lucky to attend an Eat-In in Chicago, on August 26, organized by Slow Food Chicago‘s Lynn Peemoeller and her team. It rained all morning, and, as if by divine intervention, stopped about 20 minutes before the event kicked off.
A big, beautiful table sat in the middle of Daley Plaza, abounding with local peaches and plums. People from all over the city had come for the meal: young people from Growing Power, friends from Windy City Harvest, representatives from the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force, and state representative, soon-to-be senator Julie Hamos.
The whole staff of Angelic Organics showed up wearing cardboard hats with messages like “I grow my own tomatoes: Ask me how,” “I keep bees: Ask me how,” “I raise goats: Ask me how!”
And the Cornettes were there. They were my favorites. These advocates for urban agriculture made corn-ear costumes, salt and pepper shaker costumes, and a stick of butter costume. And their costumes were made out of cut up seed-bags for round-up ready, genetically modified corn. Good movements incorporate good theater. Just being right isn’t enough. No movement is worth being part of that doesn’t inspire creativity, art, a sense of humor to change the system. In Chicago, they were inspired.
On Labor Day, we are going to see this kind of creativity and dedication all over the country, in 300 locations, in every state as people gather for a Day of Action to kick off the Time for Lunch campaign. The campaign aims to update the National School Lunch Program (which expires in Sept. 2009) so that schools have the ability to serve food that benefits our children’s health, rather than the fast food and junk food that makes them sick. We’re telling Congress that it’s time to provide America’s children with real food: food that tastes good, is good for us, is good for the planet, and is good for the people who work to grow and prepare it.
You should come to one. They are easy to find. Just use this map or search by state. While you’re there, sign the Time for Lunch petition.
Posted on Mon, September 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gordon Jenkins
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Monthly Food Channel
On Labor Day, people in nearly 300 cities and towns across America will gather in public places, sit down, and share a meal together. We will do it for two reasons: one personal, one political. The personal reason is that we love to cook and share food. Nourishing people, making them smile and momentarily making life good is something that we find deeply satisfying—and at potlucks, we share this feeling en masse.
The political reason to organize potlucks is actually the same motive. Potlucks bring people together. And people who come together in the spirit of goodwill and for the joy of sharing food are more likely to stand together when political push comes to shove. If you’re an organizer, potlucks can be one of your best agents of change: rather than goad people to name enemies and point fingers, you can gather them for something that they enjoy doing and that replenishes their will to fight. Potlucks are a ripe opportunity for inviting people who may not have sat at the same table together in the past and then celebrating what we all have in common: the need to eat and the need for support.
On Labor Day, the tens of thousands of us who will sit down together in public parks, on school grounds, at churches, and in front of City Halls will do it for an overtly political purpose: to tell Congress to stop giving our children food that hurts them. We’re calling these events “Eat-Ins,” because they’re part potluck, part sit-in. They are a launching-point of the Time for Lunch campaign, the goals of which are to give schools the ability to serve real food at lunch and to link local schools to local farms. The Eat-Ins that take place on Labor Day will rally support for the cause by organizing communities, getting some media attention and thereby sending a clear message to Congress: It’s time to provide America’s children with food that benefits their health, not food that makes them sick.
My colleagues and I organized the first Eat-In a year ago in San Francisco. The event brought together more than 250 young people, most of them fresh out of college. The day before, we had formed teams and piled into apartment kitchens across the city to cook up our favorite dishes. On Labor Day, the final day of the Slow Food Nation extravaganza, we showed up at Dolores Park armed with our dishes. We sat down on a grassy hill and we took turns rousing nearby sunbathers with rallying cries about our intention to take back the American food system in the name of everyday people. And then we sat down to eat.
Posted on Thu, September 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by campaign intern Alex Tung
The Time For Lunch Campaign’s National Day of Action is only four days away! As Slow Food USA’s staff, volunteers and Eat-In organizers nationwide are busy making final preparations, I’d like to share our excitement by giving you a short preview of a few of the fine, innovative Eat-Ins that I’ve been following in my time here as a Regional Coordinator for the campaign. (As you’ll see, I’ve mostly worked with organizers in the West.)
Some Slow Food chapters have done a great job reaching out to their local school districts and working directly with city officials. Attendees at Slow Food Boulder, CO‘s Eat-In on the Boulder County Courthouse Lawn will hear stories from individuals who work hard to provide the food in Boulder’s schools. They include Boulder Valley School Districts School Food Projects member and parent Syliva Tawse, the Growe Foundations School Gardens program and the Parent Education Network and St. Vrain Valley School District‘s Director of Nutrition. The potluck-style picnic will be complemented by tasty food samples made with locally sourced ingredients by students of the Culinary School of the Rockies. There will even be fun activities for children and a bluegrass band!
Others have made headway by bringing together new groups of people. At the Eat-In in Salt Lake City, UT you can share a dish with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Dave Everett from the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office, who will be at Slow Food Utah‘s Eat-In to show their support for giving kids real food at school. They will be joined by Primary Children’s Hospital Pediatric Dietitian Margaret Braae, and Valerie Hammel, who spearheaded the Open Classroom‘s “Real Food Lunch Program.” Volunteers at the family-friendly event will help kids plant seeds in little pots they can take home and watch grow. Children can also participate in fun games with local apples as prizes.
A few chapters have had to be creative about their location. To beat the heat, the Slow Food Phoenix’s Eat-In in Phoenix, AZ will be an indoor even—a “bring your own” picnic and a potluck dessert buffet at the Home Arts Building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Attendees can expect to see local chefs leading cooking demonstrations for kids, and interactive booths on topics ranging from “seed planting” to “a nutrition pyramid bean bag toss” and a “school garden complete with plants and bales of hay.” Strolling the event and entertaining kids and parents alike will be a trio of veggies and fruits to promote healthy eating.
In Portland, OR, real food and creativity will set the stage for “re-framing an abandoned lot as an urban grid of neighborhoods and gardens.” Teaming up with the the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and their annual Time-Based Art Festival, Slow Food Portland will take over the lawn of the old Washington High School with a flurry of planting, harvesting, and cooking. At this sprawling picnic surrounded by temporary gardens, participants will be fed wood-fired flatbreads and joined by local food organizations.
Looking for an Eat-In near you? Visit the Time for Lunch website, here.
Posted on Thu, September 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Time for Lunch Campaign Coordinator Gordon Jenkins
On Monday, Huntington, NY Supervisor Frank Petrone issued a proclamation on behalf of the Town Board declaring Labor Day, Sept. 7 Time for Lunch Day. The proclamation is a show of support for the Eat-In that Slow Food Huntington is organizing for the Time for Lunch campaigns National Day of Action on Sept. 7. On that day, people in communities across America are gathering for Eat-Ins (part potluck, part sit-in) that send a clear message to Congress: Its time to provide our children with real food at school.
With nearly 32 percent of children ages 2 to 19 considered overweight or obese, and with one in three children born since 2000 in jeopardy of developing diabetes in his or her lifetime, our schools should take the lead in teaching healthy eating habits and in providing students with healthy food, Supervisor Petrone said. We wholeheartedly support the goals of Slow Food USA and its local chapter, Slow Food Huntington, and ask residents to join them in their Community Eat-In.
Slow Food Huntington is partnering with the education organization Starflower Experiences on its Eat-In, which will take place on Monday from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Manor Farm Park. To learn more about the Eat-In, visit the Time for Lunch web site.
The photo above shows Laurie Farber, executive director, Starflower Experiences; Ann Rathkopf, co-leader, Slow Food Huntington; Supervisor Frank Petrone; Bhavani Jaroff, co-leader, Slow Food Huntington; Nicolas Maiarelli, Slow Food Huntington.
Posted on Tue, September 01, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
From August 20 23, I attended the last of three Real Food Challenge Trainings that were held across the country this summer in an effort to prepare students to change the on campus food system this fall.
Young food activists gathered in Santa Cruz, California; Ames, Iowa; and Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in collaborative training sessions that, hopefully, empowered them to return to their schools this fall and do something. Take a stand. Start a conversation. Educate peers. And ultimately, begin to change the food system in some way, big or small.
Students descended on these trainings from various locations, institutions and backgrounds; some new to the food movement as a whole and others with success stories to share. However, the common thread is a firm belief that everyone has a right to good, clean and fair food.
During the course of each training, attendees participated in an array of workshops, which provided background on the issues along with the most important strategies for addressing these concerns. Students brainstormed about the key steps to planning a successful campaign, with particular focus on identifying the drivers and targets. In the end, everyone went away energized and ready to take what they learned, find a crew of like-minded individuals and work to achieve a victory this fall.
And, the tomatoes. The Boston training did not suffer from tomato blight. We ate fresh summer tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyday. The tomatoes added not only to each meal, but also to conversations with Meghan Cohorst from the Student/Farmworker Alliance about ways to connect the Dine with Dignity campaign to the Real Food Challenge. Food for thought? Certainly.
Posted on Fri, August 28, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
By Slow Food Chicago chapter leader Lynn Peemoeller, and as originally posted on the Huffington Post
Like all great public spaces, Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago has set the stage over the years for as many causes as there are types of people. The great walls of city hall, the Federal building, and the Chicago Picasso have been the backdrop for a melting pot of events.
When I heard about the idea of an Eat-In, which is a group of people gathering in public in order to share a meal together and make a political statement I wanted to do it in Daley Plaza with our Slow Food Chapter.
Locally we are well known for great events that celebrate food through farmers, artisans, and ethnic cultures but we have never really gone down the path of organizing people around a reason for action.
The reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act in Congress this fall and the Slow Food USA campaign (Time for Lunch) that is raising awareness for better food in school lunches and nutrition for our most vulnerable populations gave us ammunition to bring people together for an Eat-In. The Slow Food USA Time for Lunch Campaign is proving that people all over the country are passionate and dedicated to making a difference in our food system through civic engagement and advocacy for change in Federal policy. There are over 250 Eat-Ins planned throughout the country on Labor Day in all 50 states. This has exceeded expectations all around.
Now, Ive been to plenty of events put together by big fancy event companies and they are often impressive. As a small and completely volunteer-run organization, for us to do something of this scale requires not only time and money but also dedication from scores of people.
I was the kind of student who always wanted to go first to get my presentations over with. That desire was working for me, when the only available date we could get for Daley Plaza this summer was on August 26th. So we started down the path of planning a simple yet impressive event, the first in a nationwide series.
Even the most-simple events are complicated. I shouldnt have been surprised to see the rain coming a week away.
Posted on Mon, August 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debbie Lehmann
Deborah Lehmann is an editor of School Lunch Talk, a blog about school food. She is currently studying economics and public policy at Brown University.
President Obama has been talking about school lunch a lot lately, but last week he touched on a new side of the issue. In response to a question about healthy eating at a forum on health care, Obama brought up what I see as one of the biggest obstacles to improving cafeteria fare: the unfortunate reality that what kids like is not always whats best for them.
Heres what Obama said at the forum:
Because sometimes you go into schools and you know what the menu is, you know? Its French fries, Tater Tots, hot dogs, pizza and now, thats what kids lets face it, thats what kids want to eat, anyway. (Laughter.) So its not just the schools fault.
Thats absolutely right its not just the schools fault. School meal programs are stand-alone businesses within school districts, and they need students to come in and buy the food they offer so that they can break even at the end of the year. In fact, you can think of school cafeterias as restaurants on school grounds (restaurants that, admittedly, have to meet federal requirements and submit huge piles of paperwork to the USDA). Without student sales, cafeterias go out of business. School lunches would be great if all kids loved carrots and spinach. But the reality is that kids like pizza and hotdogs, and school lunchrooms are responsible for pleasing their customers.
If we want to overhaul school food in America, were going to have to change that. Its a change that makes obvious sense when you look at the cafeteria as a part of the school environment. Look around the rest of campus and youll see that the lunchroom is the only place where we give kids what they want. English teachers assign the books on the curriculum, not the books kids ask to read. Math teachers cover fractions and multiplication, even though students would probably rather be playing video games than completing worksheets.
Classrooms can function like that because theyre not businesses. Teachers are not responsible for catering to their customers because they dont have customers. They have students. If were serious about dietary reform and health reform, its time to translate that to the cafeteria as well.
Posted on Fri, August 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Earlier this week, in an interview with 11 year old Damon Weaver (yes, eleven. I was at ballet class at eleven), Barack Obama talked about the importance of getting healthy food into schools.
Then, yesterday, during a conference call on health care with Organizing for America organizers, he continued:
“part of what we also have to do, though, is teach our children early the importance of health…When it comes to food, one of the things that we are doing is working with school districts, and the child nutrition legislation is going to be coming up. We provide an awful lot of school lunches out there and reimburse local school districts for school lunch programs. Let’s figure out, how we can get some fresh fruits and vegetables in the mix?
Because sometimes you go into schools, and you know what the menu is. You know, it’s French fries, tater tots, hot dogs, pizza. Now, that’s what kids—let’s face it. That’s what kids want to eat anyway, so it’s not just the school’s fault. A, that’s what kids may want to eat. B, it turns out that that food’s a lot cheaper because of the distributions that we’ve set up.
And so what we’ve got to do is to change how we think about, for example, getting local farmers connected to school districts, because that would benefit the farmers, delivering fresh produce, but right now they just don’t have the distribution mechanisms set up.”
Anyone else’s head spinning?
Now we all know that just because Barack and Michelle are on board, it doesn’t equal a better Child Nutrition Act and a reformed Farm Bill, BUT, I think we are guaranteed an interesting conversation when the Child Nutrition Act does finally make it to the floor.
Posted on Thu, August 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gordon Jenkins
If the office workers on lunch break in Brooklyn Bridge Park could hear anything over the roar of Q trains crossing the Manhattan Bridge, then they were treated to a rare public performance: Slow Food USA Executive Director Erika Lesser, in makeshift headdress, giving a passionate reading of the Slow Food Manifesto. As she hit doleful lows (We are enslaved by speed) and soaring heights (Slow Food guarantees a better future), twenty of her colleagues cheered and hissed in unison. Eyewitnesses in corporate offices across the East River report seeing the industrial food system shake in its boots.
Lessers performance was a highlight of an event billed as a warm-up to the National Eat-In taking place on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day, people in communities across America will gather for public potlucks that send a clear message to Congress: Its time to provide our children with real food at school. As organizers nationwide prepare for their events, the staff at Slow Food USA headquarters in Brooklyn decided to practice what they preach and cook up their own favorite dishes for a lunchtime Eat-In.
Roast beef and fruit salad and pickled okra and homemade baba ghanoush appeared on the table, alongside plum cake and chocolate mousse for dessert. While they ate, staff members took turns giving performances to rally spirits in preparation for the final stretch to Labor Day. A school nutrition director named Margo Roundbottom made a brief but moving appearance to knight Leah Gorham and Callie Gleason in the Order of the Lunch Lady on their second-to-last day working on the campaign (its August, and they have to return to school); Jenny Trotter sang a very beautiful song; Deena Goldman, Jerusha Klemperer and Julia Middleton sang their bosses praise and folly; and Josh Viertel closed the meal by channeling his inner chain-gang member and leading a passionate rendition of a 1930s Mississippi work song.
If they couldnt hear, the office workers sitting nearby did stare and smile appreciatively. Everyone likes to watch people enjoy a meal together, even if its a ragtag group of food activists who interrupt their meal with manifesto readings. On Sept. 7, many thousands of such food activists will impress many thousands of such passerby in parks and town squares across America. Join the effort today at http://slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch.
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.