What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Sun, May 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA Intern Melissa Rosenberg
World Fair Trade Day is just around the corner, on May 9th. The festivities will begin at first light, with a single drummer in New Zealand, and end in Samoa at last light. Initiated in Tanzania in 2001, the celebration has evolved into a 48-hour global event. The day is a tribute to the people and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of producers, consumers, and the environment.
Here in the U.S. the theme is Everything is Better When Its Fair.”
Indeed it is: not only does Fair Trade provide fair wages for farmers, and a healthier future for our planet, but also more flavorful products for us to enjoy.
Across the country, thousands will unite to take a Fair Trade break. The more the merrier! Meet up with people in your neck of the woods to savor a cup of Fair Trade coffee, and help surpass last years world record for the Worlds Largest Fair Trade Coffee Break. And if coffee isnt your cup of tea, dont worry, you can still join in. Raise a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade made with Fair Trade sugar, or snack on some homemade brownies whipped up using Fair Trade chocolate and vanilla.
This is just a small glimpse of the days revelry; to find out about breaks and other activities scheduled in your community, or to learn how to organize your own, click here.
If you are a student, and want to get involved, click here for resources and a Student Action Guide.
Posted on Mon, April 27, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Terra Madre 2008 delegate Annie Myers
Some projects are inspired by enthusiasm, some by curiosity, or morality, ambition, passion, friendship, or obligation. The inspiration for Radishes and Rubbish was born out of such a combination of these emotions that Carla and I never doubted our ability to draw others into our work. We are both novices and experts, both endlessly enthusiastic and quite stunningly naive. We had no idea what times were in store.
Radishes and Rubbish is (in elevator speak) a series of field trips to food production and processing sites and waste management locations within the New York City region. The Green Grant program of NYUs Sustainability Task Force provides the funding for these trips, during which my friend Carla Fernandez and I offer participants an adventure, education, transportation, and a meal, all for free. The transportation may be by foot, by subway, or by boat, by the occasional rented van, or the rare and appreciated large comfy bus. The meal is always made with ingredients sourced as locally as can be, grown organically if possible, and always made or sold by people or shops that we know and support. The participants are ideally freshmen in college, though they have ranged from librarians to chemistry professors, from film students to food distributors to the curious and unemployed. The destinations are up to us.
Carla and I came at the idea of our trips from slightly different perspectives. I study regional food systems; she studies socially responsible supply chains. She wanted to learn about the large-scale waste management centers where our trash so misleadingly seems to disappear; I wanted to share my friendship with and knowledge of several innovative and small food producers and processors in the region. As students at NYUs Gallatin School, we both proposed parallel field trip projects in April 2008, without knowing of each others propositions. The Green Grant committee told us we would receive funding if we combined forces. And thus Radishes and Rubbish was born.
We have led our fellow students (and students at heart) to one recycling center, one artisan baker, two urban farms, two slaughterhouses, three cheese shops, three farms upstate (of which one composts NYUs organic matter), one importers warehouse, and the second largest wholesale fish market in the world. Weve just finished up the school year with two trips in one weekend: to a commercial rooftop greenhouse on the Upper East Side, and to the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.
Posted on Wed, April 22, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This Saturday, April 25, the world will celebrate the first International Grandmothers Day, a celebration that is the brainchild of Darina Allen, owner of Irelands Ballymaloe Cookery School. A grandmother of six, she had the idea to get children together with grandma for a day in the kitchen to pass along traditions.
When Allen mentioned the idea of an Irish Grandmother’s Day to Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, Petrini said it was too good to restrict to just Ireland. The inaugural Grandmothers Day will be celebrated in 132 countries.
“From a small budget, grandmothers were able to feed the family,” says Allen. “It’s a forgotten skill to be able to make a meal, something delicious and lovely out of leftovers. These are all the skills we really need!”
As a sample of some of the compelling events that have been created in Ireland and other countries to mark this day, check out Slow Food Irelands web site here.
Posted on Thu, April 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Spring is officially here, and in addition to daffodils and spring greens at market, April tends to be prime time for CSA sign-ups! Dont know yet what a CSA is? Fear not; if you do, heres a bit of info you may not have known before.
The idea of Community Supported Agriculture has Japanese roots, in an innovative system of pre-arranged, pre-paid produce delivery known as teikei in the early 1970s. Teikei which means cooperation, or in this context food with a farmers face started as an initiative of a few families near Kobe who were concerned with pesticide usage on their food. These folks later formed the early Japanese Organic Agriculture Association. European-style, subscription produce share programs also began around this same time. CSA did not reach the US until the mid-1980s when a farmer named Robyn Van En was introduced to the idea from a Swiss friend of hers. Robyns Indian Line farm in Western MA first experimented with the idea of CSA in a pre-paid apple orchard share. The idea proved a success, and Robyns farm share program later grew to include vegetables which make up the foundation of most American CSA programs. In farm-dense New England, the CSA idea spread quickly from the Right Coast to the Left.
Why call veggie allotments shares? Well, CSA works as a type of investment: you pay for your share in the farm over the winter or early in the farm season as your farmer lays out their crop plan and preps equipment for the coming year. While many CSA farmers have other sources of income beyond their member base, CSA farmers know at the outset their profit and production targets. Income is received when its needed most (before plants or livestock produce), and it acts as a guarantee for payment when Mother Nature is unforgiving. In this way, CSAs operate as risk-sharing ventures if a late season hail storm wipes out an early spring lettuce crop, or heaven forbid a plague of locusts should strike Farmers John and Jane will still survive the season, and you just might miss out on some peas. What you get in return is a sense of investment in your regional farm economy, and healthy, locally grown produce with a farmers face on it.
Posted on Wed, April 08, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Once raised by small-scale family farmers and bred for hardiness, survivability and FLAVOR, many heritage breeds have been lost to mass-market industrialization. Our RAFT alliance partner, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, is leading the way to bring these rare, diverse breeds back to US farms and tables.
Rare breeds have unique qualities that make them suitable to small farm pastures. That also means they need special (or at least different) treatment in the kitchen. Just like were learning that we cant prepare a grass-fed burger like a grain-fed one, we cant prepare a Pineywoods steak like an Angus, or roast a Buckeye chicken like an industrial one.
How do we learn what to do? Before you start raiding the shelves of used bookstores looking for pre-1950s cookbooks, ALBC is coming to the rescue later this year with a Rare Breeds Recipe Book. They are creating the book by hosting a rare breeds recipe contest.
Are you already familiar with cooking a particular rare breed? From now until September 1, you can submit recipes to ALBC. The first place winner will receive a free registration to their national conference this November in Houston. To learn more about the contest, click here.
Posted on Tue, April 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA Intern Carol Dacey-Charles
Earth Day is April 22what are you going to do?
Did you know that Earth Day movement began in 1970 with 20 million people nationwide stepping out and to celebrate and to demand more attention be spent to protect and honor our environment? It led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Today there are even more Earth Day celebrations being held in the US, and Slow Food USA chapters are helping to make the link between sustainable and clean food and a vital eco-system.
So, how are you going to celebrate this year? Maybe you will be spending the weekend of April 18 at one of many Earth Day Fairs like those taking place in San Diego, Reno, Nashville, Wake Forest University or on the National Mall in DC. Many nation wide events are listed at the Earth Day Network Website.
If you want to get a little more hands on, you can organize your own Earth Dinnerand Organic Valley wants to help you! At their Earth Dinner Website you can get ideas for organizing, menus, discussion topics and even a list of coast-to-coast public Earth Dinner events you can attend.
Let us know what you are doing!
Also, if you are interested in reading more about the connection between climate change and food:
Posted on Fri, March 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This Sunday, March 22nd is World Water Day, and there are a bunch of ways you get involved.
Don‘t: buy a big plastic bottle of brand name water and toast your friends.
Do: Drink from the tap!
According to the World Health Organization, 1.7 billion people lack access to clean water, and 2.3 billion people suffer from water-borne diseases each year. The supply of water in the world is shrinking the freshwater supply is being depleted by water-intensive agriculture, population growth, industrial pollution and many other ecological threats.
World Water Day is an international day chosen by the U.N. In 1992 to highlight the importance of the sustainable management of freshwater and freshwater resources. Our friends at Food and Water Watch have put together a short list of activities you can participate in to support water conservation and to educate ourselves.
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 Fri, February 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA intern Laura Kate Morris
March. It conjures up thoughts of melting snow, hatless days, and pigs? Yes, for all you porcine aficionados, March 1st is National Pig Day. Interested in hosting your own pig-tastic celebration? Here are a few tips for more background info and how to sustainably enjoy your pork
To learn a bit more about the many shapes and sizes of hog, check out the American Livestock Breed Conservancys listing of threatened breeds and Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which profiles four endangered American varieties.
As with other livestock, the popularity of conventional pig breeds endanger the broad genetic diversity found in heritage animals. Conventional pigs put on weight fast, maximizing output (and profit) for large corporations in controlled (and usually inhumane) environments. On the other hand, heritage breed pigs, ignored by many big farms, are a nod to our agricultural history with a look and taste that is genetically closer to their piggy ancestors. Heritage breeds tend to be heartier, good foragers, and suited to their respective regions. Not to mention their fantastic names like Red Wattle and Ossabaw Island Hog. Its organizations like the ALBC, and some very dedicated farmers, that are helping these breeds to make a comeback.
One of the major problems for conservationists is that without a demand, the breeds will disappear (hence the title of this post.) Emerging connections with chefs and restaurants are helping to create a market for specialty breed pork products. To source one of the four Ark of Taste-listed breeds, read their profiles on the Slow Food website. Also check out LocalHarvest to find a farmer near you that raises the animals. This site should help you source the ham of your dreams.
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.
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.