What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
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 Sat, January 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
NRDC just announced the first annual Growing Green awards to honor the work of a Food Producer, a Business Leader and a Thought Leader in the sustainable agriculture world. And check this out: the food producer would win 10,000 BUCKS.
The organization will highlight extraordinary contributions that include innovation within an ecologically-integrated food system, advancement of sustainable food production, climate stewardship, water stewardship, the preservation of farmland, and social responsibility. We think this is a great opportunity to highlight and honor a changemaker in your community—perhaps even one who is doing unique work with endangered foods, garden-to-table projects, etc.
The following three categories are eligible to apply:
The deadline is quick: applications are due no later than February 6, 2009, so hop to it! Visit NRDC’s website for information on the nomination process.
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 Wed, January 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Patrick Keeler
Good Luck, and Good Fishin’
Those were the words of Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin on opening day of salmon fishing season in June of 2007 to the communities along the Nushagak river and the headwaters of Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. These waters represent the largest wild salmon runs in the world, where over 60 million red sockeye salmon return each season from a single spawning event. Last night a few of us from the Slow Food USA office went to a screening of the new film “Red Gold”, which documents these shimmering fish, their fragile place in the food chain, and the livelihoods of the indigenous and small family fisher communities that depend on this resource.
The wild salmon industry represents over $300 million dollars of Alaskas economy annually, and the sport fishing industry $60 million. However, both the ecosystem and economy of this region are at risk due to a mining company’s proposed excavation of the largest copper (and gold) deposits in North America, and the second largest of its kind in the world worth an estimated $345-500 billion. In territory prone to earthquakes, the company (Pebble Mine) will need to build a toxic runoff catchment dam (FYI, the EPA ranks open pit mining the most polluting industry in the nation); the proposed dam would be larger than the controversial Three Gorges Dam in China! All of this is possible because the land in question is state-owned.
“Red Gold” is a cinematographically beautiful, and emotionally moving film that presents the natural beauty of this relatively untouched landscape, and the peoples that survive and make their livings off the land, rather than approaching it as community protest. Were to fall in love with the natural world here first, in order to realize how precious a resource this would be to squander on a few years return on metal.
Posted on Wed, December 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
This holiday season, you can make merry and have fun while informing neighbors about ethical food!
Global Exchange is inviting individuals, nonprofits, schools, congregations, and youth groups all over the country to participate in Fair Trade Holiday Caroling.
What is Fair Trade Holiday Caroling? Carolers walk door to door or perform in any public place congregation, school play, holiday party, subway station, etc, etc. Carolers first sing a few carols, then read a brief Fair Trade Public Education Script to their audience, and finally ask their audiences to make a Fair Trade New Years Resolution or pledge to buy Fair Trade holiday gifts together, the thousands of Resolutions we collect in the US and around the world will make a big impact on expanding the market for Fair Trade farmers and artisans.
Carolers sing both traditional carols and the clever, amusing, fabulous Fair Trade carols submitted to Global Exchanges Fair Trade Holiday Song Contest during the Summer of 2008. (Even if you dont go caroling, take a peek at the songbook for a little chuckle.)
Check out the Holiday Caroling Toolkit, which includes the Songbook, information on how to carol, and all the materials you need.
The Global Exchange Fair Trade Campaign also encourages you to consider taking a pledge to buy some or all holiday gifts Fair Trade this year!
Posted on Mon, December 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Speak up about the future Secretary of Agriculture ASAP!
‘Tis the season for Presidential cabinet appointments, and while you probably won’t find a surprise appointment in your own stocking, you are encouraged to let the USDA knowin these final weekswho you favor, and why. According to Steph Larsen at the Center for Rural Affairs (via Ethicurean.com, a blog that is doing fantastic coverage of this issue and others), there is a short list of candidates for Secretary of Agriculture, and we should exercise our democratic right by learning who’s who, focusing on realistic candidates (Michael Pollan, sigh, is not interested and not a real candidate). Please note, however, that this short list is a slippery lil’ fella, and just as soon as you think you’ve gotten your head around it, reports come that it has changed.
That’s where this new petition now circulating may come in handyas reported by Kim Severson on the NYT Diner Journal, and signed by many of our own including our President Josh Viertelsuggesting a few somewhat realistic, but NOT-on-the-short-list candidates, including Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University. While this list might not totally reflect the down-and-dirty realities of Washington, it makes a strong and well-supported push for the new administration to go in a more progressive direction with this position. Plus, the short list keeps changing, so who knows!
To sign onto this petition, click here.
And, as Larsen explains: “Another way to influence this process is by weighing in with your senators regarding other appointed positions at USDA, such as Under Secretaries, Deputy Under Secretaries, and Agency Administrators. These positions often control the daily workings of programs we care about, and having people friendly to the sustainable food, rural and agriculture community in these positions goes a long way to help make these programs successful.” For more information on those positions and how to get informed and get involved, click here
[Update: as of Thursday December 11th, the Food Democracy Now petition has nearly 19,000 signatures; check out the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof calling for a Secretary of Food instead of the antiquated Secretary of Agriculture for a country that is only 2% farmers; read the news about Obama’s team already writing briefing notes for this Secretary of Ag, even before he/she has been chosen.]
Posted on Tue, December 02, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The fact that the EU won’t allow in most genetically engineered crops is a fairly good indication that there may be good reason to be skeptical about the healthfulness of genetically modified food in our food supply.
The USDA doesn’t think so. They would like to deregulate the use of genetically engineered corn, specifically “corn genetically engineered (GE) to produce a microbial enzyme that facilitates ethanol production.” Because ethanol as an alternative to oil still seems like a really good idea to them.
If you have a strong feeling either way about this, (i.e.: keep those deregulations coming! or I ain’t scared of no GE corn!) you have a forum to express it, directly to the USDA; they are having an open comment period through January 20th, 2009, and will actually read and register and consider all of your comments.
Make your voice heard by clicking here!
Posted on Wed, November 26, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Dear Friends of Maveric [Heritage Ranch]:
It is with the deepest and most profound grief that I write this message. At 5:30am November 19th, 2008, we awoke to our beautiful 100 year old gambrel barn engulfed in flames. Trapped within the barn was my beloved stallion, several rare Mulefoot hog sows with their litters of piglets, an extremely rare Wessex saddleback boar, a favorite guinea hog boar and all of my dearly loved cats. Although we made attempts to rescue our animals, we were unable to save any from the barn.
We were able to run pigs from their pens near the barn to the pastures and get them away from the heat & flames. Many animals in these pens were burned and have suffered smoke inhalation. Though it is several days after the fire, we are still losing animals we have been nursing and trying to save.
The fire burned with such intensity that it caught a large tree and our new barn on fire as well. The firemen were able to save our new barn, but our gambrel was a complete loss. The fire marshal reported that the fire was burning in excess of 2000 degrees due to the way the metal items in the barn melted and puddled. The fire was apparently caused by a failure in the main power breaker. When the power transformer began to melt, we lost power to the whole farm. This also left us without water, as our well is pumped by electricity.
All of our feed (approximately 1000 bales of alfalfa), our tools, watering troughs & feeders, buckets, piglet pens, fencing supplies, power cords, winter heaters, saddles & horse gear, construction materials for our new barn and so much more were completely destroyed.
We cannot replace our rare breed pigs. They simply do not exist. Our work for nearly ten years has been to preserve and save these breeds of pigs. We cannot begin to express our sense of loss over these animals, not just from our lives, but from all future generations.
This tragedy has made it even more clear to us that these rare breeds are in a very precarious situation. At any moment, a disaster, accident or disease could take yet another species from this planet.
Our friends have already begun to rally around us and offer support. We have received many calls and emails from the folks at Slow Food USA, Animal Welfare Institute, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Dakota Rural Action. Because of this outpouring of encouragement, we feel compelled to persevere and insure that future generations are able to raise and enjoy these breeds, and that biodiversity amongst pigs is preserved.
Posted on Wed, November 26, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
No matter what city you live in, and no matter what newspaper you read, you have probably seen a headline that says something like “Local Food Bank Donations Down,” or “Shelves Empty at the Food Bank.”
This Thanksgiving, consider the possibility of making your dinner a food drive; you can ask your guests to bring canned goods, in lieu of house gifts. According to a recent thread on Chowhound, certain items are almost always a good bet:
What they’ve got too much of? Kidney beans. And, of course, money donations are always welcome as well.
To find the nearest food bank to you, check out Second Harvest’s Food Bank locator.
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.