What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, April 21, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
For those of you who may have just received your copy of the latest Snail magazine, you may have read, with interest, about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ("Would You Like Some Justice with That?," The Snail, Spring 2008). They were recently the focus of a Senate hearing on working conditions for tomato workers. Eric Schlosser continues to be an outspoken voice in the fight for a fair wage for these tomato workers, trying to highlight that this is a human rights issue (as well as a food/ag/business issue).
Posted on Thu, April 17, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
How can you take a bite out of climate change? It's something we address, either directly or indirectly, almost every day here on this blog. And as of this week, there is another site you can visit for the skinny on direct actions you can take: The Small Planet Fund's Take a Bite out of Climate Change website and blog. On the site you can Learn (facts about global warming and our food system's contributions), Act (on policy alerts, letter writing campaigns etc.), and Eat (ideas for a climate friendly diet).
The Small Planet Fund, based here in NYC and founded by Francis Moore-Lappé and Anna Lappé, funds "citizen-led solutions to hunger, poverty, and environmental devastation around the world." Since 2002, they've raised an impressive quarter of a million dollars.
Posted on Thu, April 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Earth Day (April 22) is coming up, a welcome reminder each year that the Earth is our home and provides generation after generation with life itself. Did you know that our current food system is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases? Protecting our planet requires action by everyone, and supporting local food systems and sustainable food production will help value and protect the land that feeds us all. So what can you do?
Organic Valley, the family-farmed owned organic dairy cooperative, encourages people to host "Earth Dinners" with homemade, local food and conversation centered on the origins of what is being served. They've created a deck of conversation-starter cards to be used at Earth Day Dinners. More details and sample cards can be found on the Organic Valley web site.
If you live near one of these Slow Food Local chapters, you can participate in their Earth Day events, including:
Slow Food Monterey Bay will participate in the annual Central Coast Vineyard Team Earth Day Food & Wine festival in Santa Margarita, CA on April 19
Slow Food Huron Valley, Michigan will host Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Earth Day Commemoration on April 22, featuring speakers on sustainability, the soup kitchen's Farm Stand, and the establishment of a local monastery's organic farm. Proceeds will benefit the Soup Kitchen and Earthworks Urban Farm.
Slow Food Miami will host a Seafood Picnic in honor of Earth Day on April 27 to benefit their Pre-K school garden program.
Slow Food Spokane River's Earth Dinner at Wild Sage restaurant will connect diners to the local producers who grow their food.
Or, consider the possibility of treating it as a new year of sorts and making an Earth Day resolution. What will you do this year to help take care of the earth?
Posted on Wed, March 19, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Check out GOOD magazine for which big conglomerates own which organic food labels.
Posted on Wed, March 19, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food in Schools Coordinator, Cecily Upton
Here at Slow Food USA, we've been noticing an interesting and exciting trend: young folks eschewing the corporate/industrial complex and going back to the land and back to the kitchen.
We're not the only ones who noticed it either–Saturday's New York Times Style Section included a lengthy article about young farmers, featuring Slow Food friend and filmmaker Severine Von Tscharner Fleming and my very own CSA farmers from Hearty Roots Community Farm and Awesome Farm, Ltd.
Beyond the Times article, though, we've heard from other youngsters about how Slow Food has helped shape their career choices. Slow Food Princeton campus chapter leader Joe Vellone writes:
"Having taken classes on food in American culture, environmental science, and economics, I've learned a learned a lot about the theories behind farming practices, food distribution, and markets. But learning about those concepts and experiencing them first-hand are two completely different things. Sure, I could have spent this summer working for an investment bank like so many of my classmates, but ultimately I would have come out empty this summer (though my wallet would have been full!).
A summer working on an organic farm, or volunteering for a greenmarket, or interning at a nonprofit in the food sector isn't just about the experience: it's about walking the walk instead of just talking the talk by eating locally and buying organic."
Katy Anderson, another Princetonian, said "After working in wealth management over the summer, I thought heavily about taking an offer from JP Morgan for a three year position after college. But ultimately, my interest in sustainable food won out - with a background in farming and a passion for good, clean, fair food expanded by my experience with Slow Food, I am incredibly excited to take this riskier, less straightforward route."
Severine, whose film "The Greenhorns" documents the experiences of young farmers across the country, has some words of advice for those looking to support this movement:
"Many in the Slow Food movement have a commitment to place, a dedication to their regional cuisine, a nose for apricot season. If you are lucky enough to own land, you might consider lending your land to a young farmer tenant. One, three, twelve, forty acres/hectares might very well not be economically viable to farm for a holiday-owner, or even for a conventional local producer of citrus, or olive, or apple–but that might be just enough land for a young intrepid farmer to grow a crop of dry-farmed tomatoes for sauce, or marjoram to dry, or even a small
vegetable operation for one of those restaurants which is on the cusp of buying locally- except that the supply is missing.
Begin to negotiate the terms of a new interaction with place, with the community relations that inform sensitive stewardship, begin a conversation with the next generation, share what you know, and nurture their fierce idealism with a piece of land to practice it upon."
Posted on Fri, March 14, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
'Tis the season for CSAs!
"What's a CSA?" you ask.
"CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between a farm and its customers in which consumers buy a membership to the farm at the beginning of the season. This is great for the farmer: rather than bringing in a lot of product and wondering how much of it will sell, the farmer has sold a certain number of shares, they have been paid for in advance and he/she must simply bring that exact amount of product to the drop off/pick up location each week. It's also great for the consumer–or "co-producer" as we like to say–because for an entire season (anywhere from 3 - 7 months) he/she has a weekly pick-up of fresh, seasonal food and a relationship with one farm. Many CSAs invite share-holders to come visit and/or come work during the high season, so there is an opportunity to learn, in the most direct sense, where your food comes from.
Curious, you wonder, "if it's still the tail end of the bleak season, how is it already time for CSAs?"
CSAs are popular, and often sell out all their shares well in advance of the beginning of the season (end of May or early June). If you begin thinking about this now you can find one near you, be in touch with the organizers, and snag yourself a share!
Convinced, and interested, you ask, "How do I find one near me?"
The best place to start is by checking out Local Harvest. They have an entire page dedicated to describing CSAs and a mapping mechanism for typing in your zip code and finding a map and list of the CSAs nearest to you.
Posted on Thu, February 28, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
An article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal on reducing environmental impact through use of a garbage disposal got us thinking about the various options for managing your organic waste (n.b. you'll need a subscription in order to read the entire article). There are garbage disposals, yes, but also composting. If you've been looking for ways to reduce waste in your household but have felt intimidated by getting started, now's your chance! Today's the day to begin.
Garbage Disposal: The above-mentioned article points out that environmental engineers and local government planners around the world are starting to acknowledge the positive benefits of disposing of organic waste through the water system rather than sending it to the landfill. They even cite a model project in Malmo Sweden that doen't use the sewage system but rather a special organic waste system that turns food into methane, which can then be used to produce power.
Backyard Composting: If it's just yard waste you're looking to manage, you can simply put it in a pile and nature will take its course. If it's food scraps you'd like to compost, you've got to build or buy a structure for it, or critters will show up to make themselves a feast. You can find some helpful instructions here at the City of Davis' website.
Urban Composting: What if you don't have a backyard? Here in NYC, you can bring your food scraps to various farmers' markets. When you have food scraps, put them in plastic bags in your freezer to keep the from decomposing, and when your freezer gets too full, you can bring them to the market, or to other drop-off locations, such as community gardens, ecology centers, urban farms, etc. Another option? Vermiculture–yup, worms. Read more about this here.
Posted on Wed, February 13, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
It's been a while since we've done any Farm Bill alerts, so here goes, since things are starting to get rolling again for the final push. Thanks to our friends at Community Food Security Coalition for keeping us all informed and in the loop.
The next step for getting this thing passed: members of the Senate and the House need to reconcile the differences between the versions that each body passed last year. When they come up with a single, decisive version, they'll then send it over to Bush, who many fear will veto the whole darn thing.
The conferees from the Senate side were announced this week. They are the top ranking (been around the longest) members of the Agriculture Committee - 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans:
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
If any of these Senators are from your state, it is still important to give them a call. Things to mention:
You can reach your Senator's office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Posted on Tue, February 12, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
The New Mexico State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 60 that provides New Mexico State University (NMSU) $250,000 for: "research on mechanical harvesting and genetic engineering of chile…" We have until Wednesday morning to get Governor Richardson to line item veto this funding.
Members of Slow Food Rio Grande met with the chile industry's lobbyist yesterday and one of the sponsors of the bill. The chile industry's contention is that they have lost market share to Peru due to lower costs, and that labor is difficult to find. In response, they have developed a mechanized picker but now need a stronger chile that can handle the pressure of the machine.
Certain varieties of chile have been crossed over the past years making the skin tougher, etc. But, these same growers/chile processing companies, currently have operations in Mexico. And one of these companies has been patenting the "process" of making chile, so chile grown in Mexico is now called "New Mexico Chile." They are currently patenting the names of traditional chiles as well. NMSU also will gain with the development of a GMO chile seed.
GMO seeds can potentially destroy the genetic diversity of New Mexico's natural habitat, causing deviations in the structure of native and wild species, and the ecosystem. This bill threatens the integrity of all chile seeds grown for generations locally and internationally. Many countries ban GMO products, so in effect this bill would limit exportation of all NM's chile products. (n.b. The New Mexican Chile is on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste).
As consumers and representatives of organizations, as defenders of biodiversity and non-genetically modified food, we urge to you to please help us out by calling, emailing or faxing Governor Richardson to veto this funding.
With less than 24 hours, PLEASE call and email Governor Richardson. Let him know you will no longer eat chile products from NM, if this bill is funded.
1. Telephone: 505-476-2200
· Tell the person your name
· Tell them if you are a consumer, Slow Food member, farmer, etc, and from where
· Tell the person you want the Governor to:
Line Item Veto: In HB2 (House Bill 2), page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
· Click here or
· Copy into your browser: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/email.php?mm=6&type=opinion
· Choose issue: Legislative Session 2008
· Cut and Paste the Following in the Comments section:
Please Line Item Veto: In HB2, page 179, (7) Research & Public Service Projects (gg) CHILE INDUSTRY for $250,000.
3. Fax: 505-476-2257
Posted on Fri, February 01, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
From our friends at Community Food Security Coalition
re: Community Food Projects, which are designed to increase food security in communities, improving the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.
This year's competition for Community Food Project (CFP) grants has been halted by the USDA because of uncertainties about the program's future funding in the Farm Bill. Prior to this recent suspension, over 460 letters of intent had been submitted.
The House version of the Farm Bill provided discretionary - not mandatory - funding, which means that the program must be funded through the appropriations process. The Senate version restored mandatory funding at $10 million annually for years 2008-2012 (double what it received previously).
However, no money for the program was provided in the fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill. USDA decided to halt considerations for 2008 grants because if the House funding prevails in conference or if a new Farm Bill is not passed, CFP will not be funded in 2008.
Your advocacy is critical to restore this decade-long enormously successful program. Millions of dollars are at stake for programs that support access to healthy food for underserved communities and benefit family farmers.
You can help!
Please send faxed letters to and call your House of Representatives member and both Senators and tell them you are very concerned that continued CFP funding is in jeopardy in the Farm Bill.
To reach your Representative and Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
For Representatives, ask him/her to contact:
Chairman Peterson (if a Democrat) or
Rep. Goodlatte (if a Republican)
For Senators, ask him/her to contact:
Senator Harkin (if a Democrat) or
Senator Chambliss (if a Republican).
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.