What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, October 12, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Learn about Slow Food Vermont’s unique form of governance.
By Deirdra Stockmann, Slow Food USA volunteer
For many of us, mention of Vermont fills our mind with nostalgic visions of verdant hills dotted with small farms and sugarbushes and populated by cheesemakers and seedsavers. Of course, there is much more to Vermont than fall colors, maple syrup and artisanal cheese. But according to the chapter leaders I talked to, most of whom are also farmers or chefs, Vermont’s food culture and identity has only been growing stronger in recent years. This is great news for the state, and for Slow Food Vermont. The only trouble is that movement is so pervasive that it is hardly possible for the chapter to connect with all of the passionate growers, producers and eaters who want to be a part of it. Hardly possible. Over the last year, the Vermont chapter found a way to empower leaders, build networks, and expand its reach
Leaders in Vermont agree that the slow food philosophy, the commitment to growing and supporting local food traditions and economies, runs deep in the veins of many Vermonters. There is a lot of interest in Slow Food Vermont’s full calendar of classes, tastings and potlucks. But over the last few years, local leaders became increasingly aware of a major barrier to engaging with current and potential members and friends of Slow Food in Vermont: geography.
Slow Food Vermont is based in Burlington, which makes sense because it is the state’s largest city (pop. 42,417). About one in three Vermonters lives in the greater Burlington area as do 60 percent of the Slow Food Vermont members. There is a strong critical mass of active members who help plan and participate in the chapter’s many activities. And yet, two thirds of the Vermont population, and 40 percent of chapter members are spread throughout the state’s many other small cities and towns and in every hill and valley.
Posted on Fri, October 05, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food leaders from Maine describe the unique partnership that has made Maine what it is today, a Slow Food mecca for chefs, growers/producers, farmers, and anyone who loves good food.
Written by Michael Sanders, co-founder of Portland, ME’s Slow Food chapter
People “from away”—out-of-staters—often ask me, What’s up with Maine? How has such a cold and far away place grown such a vibrant food scene replete with farmers, fishermen, crazy-mad chefs and their restaurants, and farmers’ markets?
The answer is not so simple. First, Maine is a land of surprises. It has a coastline longer than England’s, more organic farms per capita than California, and a terrifyingly short growing season of just 125 precious frost-free days. Making the most of what we can wrest from the soil or fish from the sea or forage from the woods, this is what Mainers have always done, a rich tradition that, today, feeds the state’s vibrant and ever-evolving food scene, from our farmers’ market to our dinner and restaurant tables.
Posted on Thu, September 13, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Lester & Linda L’Hoste have been working to preserve the organic Ark of Taste satsuma on their citrus farm in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and now Isaac.
Written by Poppy Tooker, former leader of Slow Food New Orleans
On August 29th, exactly seven years from the day that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area, a new storm blew in. Isaac was not expected to be much of a storm event as it came onshore as a mere category one.
Lester and Linda L’Hoste, organic citrus farmers in Braithwaite, LA and Crescent City Farmers Market vendors did not evacuate. As lifelong residents of Southern Louisiana, they had ridden out many a storm and believed this one was just going to bring a small amount of wind and rain.
The family enjoyed dinner together and Linda had spent the evening baking cookies before losing power about 10 pm. At 2 am Lester’s phone rang with the news that the levees were in danger of being overtopped and that they needed to evacuate. The water was rising quickly as the L’Hostes joined fifty other Braithwaite families trying to get out. Soon, it became apparent that it was too late as water rushed over the top of the levee reaching the floorboard of the truck, trapping them there.
Many Slow Food USA members will remember the L’Hostes from efforts made after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At that time, chapters across the country came together in countless ways to help farmers, fishers and chefs of Louisiana rebuild the local food system following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. That fall, the U.S. Ark of Taste committee sprang into action boarding several indigenous Gulf Coast foods suddenly endangered in the storm’s aftermath including the satsuma.
Posted on Wed, September 05, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food chapters support and learn from refugees, immigrants and new citizens.
Written By Deirdra Stockmann, Slow Food USA volunteer and former leader with Slow Food Huron Valley
Growing food has long been part of the livelihood and survival of immigrants to the United States. Still today, as they work to make their way in a new place, many migrants find community and economic opportunity in food production. Recently, two Slow Food chapters – Slow Food Minnesota Twin Cities and Slow Food Dallas – have allied with local non-profits to support the agricultural efforts of refugees in their region. The partnerships, so far, have raised funds, expanded community gardens, promoted markets, and shared many memorable meals.
Slow Food Minnesota and the Minnesota Food Association
When Jane Rosemarin began her term as the Slow Food Minnesota leader a few years ago, she wanted to broaden the scope of the chapter’s activities. Anchored in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Slow Food Minnesota was the first of four chapters in the state. Since the chapter began in 1999 it has focused on connecting farmers and consumers, taste education, and to a large extent, sending area farmers and chefs to Terra Madre.
Posted on Wed, August 08, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Preserving local food culture is more than just soil & seed. Slow Food Asheville’s Appalachian Food Storybank proves that it’s mainly about people.
Written By Deirdra Stockmann, Slow Food USA volunteer and former leader with Slow Food Huron Valley
The hills of Southern Appalachia and the people who live there have long been shaped by their foodways – the cultural, economic and geographic paths that weave people and land together. And those green hills have listened silently as generations have passed down recipes, farming techniques and stories about growing and eating together. People, of course, have listened to these stories as well, but most of them have never been recorded, some have been lost, and countless tales and tricks of the trade reside only in the minds and memories of the region’s elders.
In 2011, Slow Food Asheville created the Appalachian Food Storybank as a way to “acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage foods and foodways in order to promote the preservation of diverse local knowledges, natural resources, and food biodiversity.” In less than two years, the program has established a committed group of volunteers, built partnerships with other organizations, and created an enthusiastic buzz among local media and area residents eager to help preserve their own local history.
Posted on Mon, August 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The first installment in our “Food and Farming Spotlight” features 10 year-old leader, Gigi Di Bernardo on how youth are improving the food system.
Written by Slow Food USA’s PR & Marketing Manager, Emily Walsh
As part of a new monthly series here on the blog—“Food and Farming Spotlight”—we will be speaking with Slow Food leaders and members, and food movement personalities alike. This month, we sat down with Gabrielle (Gigi) Di Bernardo.
In a world where fast food chains spend $300 million on youth-targeted marketing per year and where for the first time since the early 1800’s, youth are expected to live shorter lives than their parents, it is hard to not feel like the next generation is powerless to defend itself. Despite the challenges though, more young people every day are taking a stand to improve food and farming.
The unbelievably articulate Birke Baehr from the East Coast immediately comes to mind and how the 11-year-old’s wise-beyond-his-years food production commentary earned him a speaking spot on a TEDx event. Or 12-year-old Mason Harvey from Oklahoma, who after being bullied for years, convinced his family to start eating well and exercising. He lost 85 pounds and is not only feeling better, but is happier at school. And most recently, there was 9-year-old Martha Payne from Western Scotland, who spurred quite the media frenzy. Shortly after she began posting pictures of the unappealing, non-nutritious lunches being served to her at school, her blog was shut down by local officials. However with the public outcry that ensued from food personalities such as Jamie Oliver, it was not long before the ban was lifted.
But how about the young people making moves in our own, Slow Food community? I would like you to meet 10-year-old Gabrielle (Gigi) Di Bernardo, who recently received a proclamation from Temecula, CA’s mayor for the food education and environmental work she is doing there. Gigi is the daughter of Leah Di Bernardo, co-leader of Slow Food Temecula and as Leah will proudly tell you, she is a bright little girl with her own big thoughts on food. But I think you will agree when you read the below transcript that her thoughts truly speak for themselves.
Posted on Thu, August 02, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Denver partners with local organizations to increase availability of garden grown produce in local food pantries
Written by Dana Miller, co-director of Grow Local Colorado
In response to the growing number of people visiting Denver area food pantries and to increase access to healthy and fresh produce for all, area organizations have come together to create Produce for Pantries.
A project of Cooking Matters, Grow Local Colorado, Denver Urban Gardens, Slow Food Denver, Plant a Row for The Hungry, Livewell Colorado, Food Bank of the Rockies, Metro CareRing, Yardharvest, and St. John’s Cathedral, Produce for Pantries connects food pantries with school gardens, community gardens, and home gardens in their neighborhoods to provide locally grown and healthy food and nutrition education to those in need. Through Yardharvest, food pantries will also be connected with fruit gleaned from residents’ trees who have an excess they would like to donate.
Posted on Sat, July 28, 2012 by Slow Food USA
What do “The Central Role of Food”, Slow Money, and “The Food Dialogues” have in common? Stephanie Georgieff went to Los Angeles to find out.
Written by Stephanie Georgieff, President and Co Founder of Slow Food Redlands, California
I was recently invited to attend an event hosted by the newly formed US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance(USFRA) entitled “The Food Dialogues”. As I made my way down to Los Angeles, where the event was being held, I could help but think of the dialogues that I had recently had within my Slow Food Chapter during our monthly book discussion group. The topic of discussion we chose was Slow Money by Woody Tasch, a passionate plea for reorienting the economy in terms of what is good for food, farms and fertility. This, coupled with the release of a document from Carlo Petrini and Slow Food International entitled “The Central Role of Food,” which was recently sent to Slow Food leaders from around the globe and is designed to promote a major world debate outside and inside the Slow Food and Terra Madre network ahead of the World Congress on October 27 – 29, 2012. These topics, along with the massive event I was about to attend, had me thinking, more than ever, about the role food plays in every aspect of our lives.
Our hosts for the event, USFRA is an alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent famer and rancher led organizations and agricultural partners. “The Food Dialogues” was their second attempt to intersect with popular culture to create awareness around how our food is produced. To their credit, the four panels were populated with representatives from the full spectrum of food interests. Small organic farmers, growers for large corporations, representatives from major food interests, scientists, members of the media and non profits were live streamed in webinar format to anyone who desired to participate. I met representatives from the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the National Pork Board.
Posted on Fri, July 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Good and Clean becomes more Fair for everyone
Written by Janette Wesley, Slow Food Upstate Chapter Leader
After a long and detailed application process with completion of a required training session, the Slow Food Upstate Board who manages the Earth Market Greenville, celebrates the approved EBT status in June of 2012 and will be able to accept EBT or SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, as payment for food products, (also plants and seeds that bear food), an essential part of the goals in the philosophy of “Good, Clean and Fair” food.
E.B.T.-Electronic Benefits Transfer, the newer version of food stamps, is an electronic system in the United States funded by the Federal Government, which allows government’s states benefits departments to issue money, accessible via a plastic debit card or a paper voucher in exchange for food or seeds and plants which produce food.
Posted on Tue, July 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Philadelphia’s collaboration luncheons bring local organizations together over a meal to meet, greet, and discuss ways to work together towards common goals.
Written By Deirdra Stockmann, former leader of Slow Food Huron Valley
In April 2012, Slow Food Philadelphia convened its second Collaboration Luncheon. This fall, they’ll host a third. The goal of these meetings is to bring leaders of Philadelphia area food movement organizations together in an informal, conversational atmosphere (with food, of course!) to meet, greet, and find ways to work together and advance shared goals. By hosting these events, Slow Food Philly is playing a vital convening and connecting role in an active, but not always coordinated, food activism landscape.
Philadelphia has long been a hub of the good food movement. Chefs, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, community members, and urban farmers have been hard at work for decades simultaneously honoring Philly’s food traditions and pushing the city forward through innovations in urban agriculture, fresh food access and food policy. Philadelphia is renowned for its markets, artisanal food products, farm-to-table restaurants, and microbreweries. And the city is home to dozens of organizations known regionally and nationally for their work on hunger, food justice, sustainable agriculture, community gardening and food policy.
But the busy leaders of these groups rarely have the time to meet, catch up on the latest activities and welcome newcomers to the lively scene. Slow Food Philadelphia decided to devote some of its resources to creating the time and space for this to happen.
“When we put this together, we had an idea, it was purely an idea, not a plan,” said Joe Brandolo, Slow Food Philadelphia president. The idea was to bring representatives of likeminded organizations who may not know each other and sometimes feel like they compete with each other, together to talk about how they can help one another. The plan was simply to get the right people in the room and then let the meeting develop organically. Brandolo provided light direction to the group, but the focus was on participants talking with each other. “Joe is a very good convener and a very good sharer of information,” said Bob Pierson, president of Farm to City, an organization that has been bringing regionally grown produce into the city through markets, CSAs and buying clubs since 1996.
In preparation for the first meeting, Brandolo asked participants to identify an area of need in their organization where they could benefit from collaboration with another group. At the meeting, participants had five minutes to talk about their organization, what they are currently working on and how they would like to connect with others. The first couple of presentations, Brandolo recalled, were a little awkward as the group was getting a sense of the tenor of the gathering. But it quickly became a dynamic and animated conversation, with people connecting on common interests and commitments to change in the regional food system.
After the introduction round, attendees paired with someone in the room with whom they wanted to talk further. Some pairs chatted about opportunities to work together. Some used the time to catch up with old friends and colleagues. Afterwards, conversations continued over lunch. Slow Food Philadelphia provided the meal, using funds they raised through a monthly speaker series. Brandolo’s company donated wine. The first luncheon was hosted at the Inn at Penn, the second at The Restaurant School. The next will be held in partnership with Les Dames Escoffier Society of Philadelphia and their Green Tables initiative.
Participants felt that the relaxed, conversational feel of the meetings was a key part of their success. “It is always difficult to get all the local food movement people in one room where they can kind of relax and walk away for an hour or two from their very busy pace and know they are with likeminded people. It is very comforting,” Pierson recalled. Carey Morgan, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, compared the meetings to other, more formal regional food groups she is a part of: “the Slow Food [Luncheons] are more productive. When you go to the Slow Food event, you know you can have conversations and build relationships.”
When Morgan started as the director of the Coalition, she felt the hunger movement was disconnected from the sustainable agriculture movement despite how interconnected the issues are. She sees the Luncheons as one important way to link different aspects of the food movement together. “The lunches are great for education for both sides to see what is going on and how we can build a bigger movement that touches all of these issues,” Morgan said. She attended the events after getting to know Brandolo a few years earlier when their offices became neighbors. As a result, she connected with organizations she may not have met otherwise. For instance, the Coalition plans to partner with some groups on community gardens that will supply food pantries in the city.
One thing that made Slow Food Philadelphia an effective convener and facilitator was that it wasn’t trying to push its own “agenda” beyond promoting connections and building the movement. “We don’t really have a dog in the fight, we have everybody’s dog in this fight,” Brandolo noted. The chapter sees itself as the “glue” of the movement and serves as a “mouthpiece” by promoting the events and fundraising activities of all of its partners through Facebook and its large email list.
For Morgan and others, inclusivity was another essential component of the success of the Collaboration Luncheons. “We are at a time when none of us can afford to be working against each other especially with the Farm Bill coming up,” she emphasized. As the Slow Food Philadelphia website states and the Collaboration Luncheons show, “collaboration makes us stronger.”
Learn more about some of the organizations that have participated in the luncheons here: www.slowfoodphilly.org/organizations/
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.