What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Wed, September 21, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Author Anna Lappe makes a homemade organic egg/muffin sandwich and tries to answer the question: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it? And if so, what does that even mean for the nation’s poor?
by Anna Lappé
I hear it all the time: I can’t eat healthy; organic food is so expensive! Over the weekend, Slow Food USA brought together more than 30,000 people around the country to tackle this lament with the “$5 Challenge,” showing how we can eat well on five bucks. Sure, if you go to a Whole Foods in Manhattan you can be set back $20 bucks before you know it, and with little to show for it. But, as Team SFUSA helped reveal, there are ways to stretch your dollar and eat well.
Still, all this got me wondering: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it?
At a McDonald’s in Greenpoint, a friend pointed out to me, Egg McMuffins were going for $2.99. Seems cheap, right? (Of course, if you know much about our modern industrial food system and its costs, you’d know that this price tag doesn’t account for how much you and I are really paying: the billions in health care costs because of preventable diet-related illnesses; the billions more in pollution clean-up costs, largely from the factory farms producing the meat, including that McMuffin bacon. You get the idea.)
But let’s stick with the actual price: $2.99. And compare that with what it would cost to make an organic, homemade Egg Mc-ish-muffin.
I priced out the ingredients from a Brooklyn supermarket (not a Whole Foods, mind you) and calculated the specific price per ingredient based on a comparable portion size. The grand total for the organic, homemade one? $2.59. Yup, that’s forty cents less than the fast food “cheap” meal.
Posted on Sun, September 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place all over the country. Hundreds of people submitted photos as well as sharing what parts of the challenge were difficult and what made it difficult.
Yesterday, as part of the $5 Challenge, over 5,570 meals took place!
Click here to see photos from Hawai’i to Illinois to New York to Texas….from potlucks to family dinners to community suppers to food truck rallies,
No matter where they were or how they came together, they were all trying to answer the question: is it possible to make a healthy, local, and delicious meal for under $5 per person?
People got creative and brought their own flair to it—like Bear Braumoeller of Slow Food Columbus, who decided to take the $5 Challenge one step further. He attempted (and, SPOILER ALERT, succeeded) to create a sustainable $5 meal in 15 minutes—to show that sustainable cooking can be quick as well as affordable. Also he live tweeted it.
Bear wasn’t the only one tweeting his progress. Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, asked his 6,000+ followers questions like “My #5challenge dilemma: Cut which of these to make budget: 3 of 8 apples 4 tart? Squash (ergo soup)? Sausage 4 stuffed peppers (more rice)?”
Posted on Fri, September 09, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, Amy knew that her household food budget had to take a hit. She also knew that she didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with her family, and her friends. This is her story.
by Slow Food Rhode Island chapter leader Amy McCoy
There’s much to love about Slow Food – the story of its inception, Carlo Petrini and his band of hungry activists, doling out pasta at Rome’s Spanish Steps in protest of fast food (can’t you just see yourself, walking down the street, men and women with pots of pasta and pasta forks approaching you, asking if you’d care for a bowl with nonna’s sauce? How could you say no?), its evolution into an advocacy group, a group that cares about where our food comes from, that the people who grow and make our food earn a fair wage, and that good, clean, fair food be accessible to all.
Along with all of the other Slow Food devotees out there, I am passionate about these issues. How can you not be once you learn a little, and then a little more, about where your food comes from?
But if I’m being totally honest, the thing that initially lured me in – that got me hooked on Slow Food and its ideals – is that this is an organization dedicated to the love of food and the joy that sharing a good meal, made with care and high-quality ingredients, with friends and family could bring. You know that joy, too. The laughter and conversation, the smiling faces of your loved ones basking in the glow of a good meal. That’s as much a part of the enjoyment of food as is the flavor. And sharing that love – of food, family, and friends – was the biggest motivation for my food blog when I started it in 2008.
Out of work and prospects dim for the foreseeable future, I knew that our household food budget had to take a hit. A sizable hit at that. Yet, I also knew that I didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for cooking, for sharing meals with my husband, our extended family, and our friends. I also didn’t want to start shopping where the store’s values were different than my own just because the prices were lower on items like meat. I didn’t want to skip the farm stand or farmers market, and I still wanted to visit my friends at my favorite Italian market, even if Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto had to be relegated to special occasions only.
So a few adjustments were required. First, I set my weekly food budget. Then I did some research about sales. I became very familiar with the prices at the farm stand. I bought copious amounts of slightly blemished butternut squash from my farmer neighbors (and other fall vegetables, too, but, boy, did we eat a lot of butternut squash that first fall. Good thing we’re winter squash obsessed.). I made a meal plan for the week. The shopping list followed the meal plan. And I slapped myself silly – figuratively, of course, that would be over-the-top weird to whack myself in the store - every time I so much as looked at an item not on the list. “Stick to the list, only the list,” I chided myself.
Posted on Fri, August 26, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
“In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?” the author asks.
Earlier this summer, as I was hauling a bag of farmers market produce home 15 blocks and up four flights of stairs, sweating bullets, cursing my choice to buy a melon (they’re heavy!), I stopped mid-step.
“Does it really have to be this hard?” I asked myself.
My story is particular to me, of course, but all over the country there are people trying to put food on the table and asking themselves “does it really have to be this hard?”
I was living, at the time, in a neighborhood with few supermarkets. The ones within a long walking distance were either very expensive or lacking the seasonal produce I craved. So on weekends I would hike over to the big farmers market. But at the farmers market I always find myself of two minds. In one moment I am buying something and can’t believe how much I get for so little money; the next item I pick up gives me sticker shock. How can both of these things be true?
When people ask me: “Doesn’t the food you eat (some mix of local, sustainable, organic, etc.) cost so much more than “regular” food?” I protest and agree at the same time. When they say “Doesn’t cooking from scratch take a lot of time?” I remember the awesome pasta I cooked the other night that took 7.5 minutes. But also the weekend of foraging I did going from one store to the next.
I live in New York City; I make a living wage; I am not trying to feed a family; I work on these issues for a living. If I find it hard/tiring/expensive sometimes, what must other people feel?
In the spirit of this conundrum, Slow Food USA launched the $5 Challenge last week.
Posted on Wed, August 17, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Today, Slow Food USA launches the $5 Challenge, our campaign to take back the value meal.
Posted on Wed, July 20, 2011 by Slow Food USA
The “ag-gag” bills that cropped up in Iowa, Florida, Minnesota and New York are dead.
Great news: the “ag-gag” bills that cropped up in Iowa, Florida, Minnesota and New York are dead. After months of efforts from Big Ag to pass bills behind our backs making it illegal to take photos or video of farms in these states, we’ve stopped them in their tracks.
Nearly 45,000 of you signed our petition to stand up for transparency on farms. We shared those signatures—as well as the slideshow below of the beautiful farm photos you uploaded to our Facebook page—with influential senators in each state.
While there was not enough momentum to pass them this year—technically these bills could be revived in future sessions. We promise to continue to track this and let you know when your voice might be needed again.
This campaign work is made possible by Slow Food USA members. Not a member? Join today!
Posted on Tue, July 12, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
2 sustainable seafood initiatives worth checking out: combating invasive fish species and reforming the “catch shares” system.
We’ve got two fish initiatives on the brain right now that we wanted to share with you.
1. Combating invasive fish species: Fish like Lion Fish and Asian carp are overtaking habitats and causing problems in rivers, lakes and reefs. How about this approach: eat them! As reported in the NY Times last week, “[Food and Water Watch’s] 2011 Smart Seafood Guide recommends for the first time that diners seek out invasive species as a “safer, more sustainable” alternative to their more dwindling relatives, to encourage fisherman and markets to provide them.” We are interested in this approach since it seems to achieve similar goals as he eater-based conservation Slow Food has promoted throughout its biodiversity work. In the case of endangered foods that deserve to be kept growing, we can create incentives to farmers and chefs by creating a demand for them (i.e. eat it to save it) in a way that actually increases their long-term chance of survival. This new push to eat abundant, invasive fish suggests eating can also work for species that are quite the opposite of endangered.
2. Balancing the environment and economics: Another issue we have been tracking closely is something called “Catch Shares.” This term refers to programs being implemented in coastal fishing areas that try to address overfishing by creating a system of quotas and distribution. i.e. the intent of the programs was to create a system of environmental stewardship, to keep fragile fish populations from being depleted by unsustainable, often large-scale, fishing companies that have started to dominate the waters. Although the intent of catch shares was positive, in effect, this natural resource has become privatized without ensuring the protections to fish populations that it sought to create, and meanwhile has pushed out the smaller fishing operations who were unable to secure sufficient quotas to stay in business. How did this happen? Click here to read more about the situation and take action.
The issue of how to ensure renewable, healthy fish populations without jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who bring us those fish, is a pressing concern to seafood fans nationwide and we’re committed to telling the story as it unfolds. Some other groups in addition to Food and Water Watch are exploring ways that these inequities can be corrected—we’ll keep you posted for additional ways to get involved.
One other article on fisheries caught our eye this week: an article in New York magazine about how fishermen on the Northeast coast are frustrated by bycatch and catch limit guidelines that are forcing them to toss dying and dead fish back into the water. It’s definitely an article with a strong point of view—what do you all think?
photo by loki_hound.
Posted on Mon, May 23, 2011 by Slow Food USA
In recent months over 50 chapters have organized screenings of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees. We asked Slow Food DC member Kate Hill to reflect on the experience of hosting a screening.
by Slow Food DC member Kate Hill
Watching Vanishing of the Bees reminds me how much of our existence we take for granted. Like walking through life with blinders on, so caught up in the here and now of self that we pay little attention to the beauty and the mystery that make the journey possible.
My family has been lucky over the years to have hands-on experience with honeybees. A good friend has kept several hives and has enlisted my sons to help him extract the honey every year since they were old enough to understand the process. Even still, I think we all fail to acknowledge what an intrinsic part of the food chain, what an immeasurable service to our own life the bee is. Painfully revealed in the film is our own complicity in allowing the toxic process that is endangering not only the bees but the planet and our own health.
Why aren’t we angrier? At stake is life itself. Society seems willing to go along and not question (with apologies to Al Gore) the “inconvenient truth” of agribusiness, choosing not to see the reality of the cost of “progress.” Towards the end of the film Bill Maher makes a brief quip on honeybee die-offs serving as “Mother Nature’s wake up call” and it struck a chord—but do we really take the warnings to heart? With colony collapse disorder the bees are forcing us to take a hard look again at how we do things. We need to be the change we wish to see to save not only the bees but ourselves.
Posted on Wed, May 04, 2011 by Slow Food USA
While many of us have become more conscious about the impacts of our personal food choices, we can’t fix the broken food system simply by changing what’s on our plate.
This post is based on the upcoming book Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
by Oran Hesterman
A Broken Food System
Our food system is failing many of us. Originally designed to produce abundant food at low cost, it now destroys some of what we hold most precious—our environment, our health, and our future.
While many of us have become more conscious about the impacts of our personal food choices, we can’t fix the broken food system simply by changing what’s on our plate. The answer lies beyond the kitchen: it relies on our willingness to be fair food “solutionaries” in our communities, in the institutions where we work, and with policy makers.
Beyond Your Kitchen
This is a moment when you can make a difference if you harness your voice, beliefs, passion, and resources to promote a fair and healthy food system. If you are ready to participate in creating a fair food future beyond your own kitchen, one place to start is in your community.
To read the rest of this post and learn about shifting institutional purchasing power as well as ways to get involved in food policy change, click here.
Posted on Wed, May 04, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Legislation pending in Iowa would make taking photos of a farm a criminal act. Similar bills have failed this year in Florida, New York, and Minnesota. We think a well-managed farm should have nothing to hide.
Lawmakers are taking action to address the egregious conditions that exist at factory farms. But not to create laws to prevent future violations of food safety regulations, environmental quality standards, workers’ rights, and animal rights on the part of irresponsible farmers. Instead, legislation pending in
Iowa (and unsuccessfully introduced in Florida, New York, and Minnesota) would make taking photos of a farm a criminal act.
We live in a time when we’re not always aware of where our food comes from and how it grows. The bipartisan legislators in Iowa, Florida, New York, and Minnesota who proposed these laws charged that unapproved photos and videos misrepresent the realities of farming and damage the public perception of our nation’s food producers. But pictures don’t lie. Inhumane and unhealthy conditions are present in our food system, and keeping that information from the public won’t make them go away. We must come together nationally to stop this dangerous precedent of suppressing outrage against bad farming practices by suppressing the public’s right to see what they’re eating.
Even more outrageous is that the pending laws apply to photos of all farms—even those upholding good, clean, and fair farming practices. So how can we convince these legislators that they’re wrong? By sending a petition to the key legislators in each state, and also by flooding their offices with photos of real farms, submitted by people like you, from all around the country. Let’s show those lawmakers that we, the Farmarazzi, are taking a stand to safeguard our right to know what goes on behind closed barn doors.
So, to recap:
Step 1: Sign the petition. Even if you’re you don’t live in Florida, Minnesota, or Iowa, your voice matters. These state laws would set a dangerous precedent that other states may choose to follow.
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.