What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, February 02, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
We’ve been talking a bunch recently on here about the future of food writing—how is being affected by new media? How come awesome food bloggers end up getting book deals, bringing it all back to the old fashioned paper format? (i.e. will the future be jet packs and silver jumpsuits? or something more interesting we haven’t thought of yet?)
That’s why I am interested in this new crowd-sourced digital cookbook—Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking—produced by Brighter Planet and their online community. It’s got energy conservation tips, stories, and recipes from different submitters from around the country. I like the hodgepodge mix—how to save energy while BBQing (tin foil, baby); how the freezer can be your friend; stuff like that. I also like how it was made—reminds me of the old church cookbooks, spiral bound and community derived. It’s real short—not so very much there there, but it’s a cool beginning. Click here to check it out.
Brighter Planet is a web-based community that is all about getting people engaged in the fight against climate change. On the site, people can measure their climate impact—various actions are connected to carbon footprint numbers, and by tracking your actions you can watch your footprint change over time as you learn to live more carbon free. Also, it seems to be all about community—online community, that is. So they’ve got a bunch of online campaigns, including the contest they hosted to create this cookbook (with an introduction by Gary Hirschberg of Stonyfield Yogurt).
Posted on Thu, January 28, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Emily Vaughn
No matter how sustainably produced your food purchases are, food that goes uneaten is a waste of resources and a major pollutant. Food scraps make up nearly 13 percent of municipal waste in the US. That percentage includes discarded trimmings like carrot peels and apple cores, but the bulk consists of surplus or aesthetically imperfect items from food service providers. Organic material like food waste produces methane as it decomposes in landfills: a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. Whats a conscientious consumer to do?
One solution is to reclaim discarded food from the dumpster. The new documentary, Dive!: Living off Americas Waste
Dive!: Living off Americas Wasteby newcomer director Jeremy Seifert follows a lighthearted a group of bearded, freegan friends as they rifle through the trash bins of LAs big-box grocery stores, and rattle off the code of containering (eg. Never take more than you need). One dives haul includes plastic cartons of blueberries, presumably thrown out because a handful of berries were bruised or moldy. The next morning the directors towheaded toddler grins with a mouthful of blueberry pancakes as he explains the meals origin to the camera.
But after a few dives that reveal the extent of the food available for scavenging, the film matures from a youthful how-to into a serious examination of the industrial and corporate practices that make dumpster diving possible. In a pivotal scene with cleverly balanced gravity and cheek, Seifert does some quick mathwritten out on a driveway in freecylced Reddi-wipto show that reclaiming just one percent of the food thrown out in LA County would more than triple the food deficit of its food banks.
The focus then shifts to getting grocery stores to step-up their donation programs, and inspiring citizens to make it happen. The film closes with a quote from Noam Chomsky, Change and progress very rarely are gifts from abovethey come out of struggles from below.Ԡ And it looks like the dumpster is the new battleground.
Posted on Wed, January 27, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Alaine Janosy
Youth gardens have become an integral part of spreading Slow Food USAs message of good, clean, and fair food to young people throughout the country. Conserving and promoting a biologically diverse food system is a critical element of this message so those managing such gardens are encouraged to plant crops found on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. This year, Slow Food Northern Arizona co-leader, Gay Chanler, was instrumental in ensuring US Ark of Taste foods were part of the Flagstaff Youth Garden at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
The garden has been experimenting with the three sister crops of the Southwestcorn, beans, and squashsince it began in 2002. This past summer, Anna Normandin, garden coordinator and undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University, wanted to expand the diversity of the garden by growing out eight varieties from the USA Ark of Taste. Her goal was not only to increase the number of heirloom varieties in the garden, but also to find out how these varieties would grow in an arid environment 7,000 feet above sea level.
Anna and Gay worked together during the seed selection process, using information from the Native Seeds/SEARCH catalog to select varieties most likely to flourish in the Flagstaff climate. Native Seeds/SEARCH donated the seeds selected for the garden, including LItoi Onions, Palomas de Chihuahua Popcorn, Nambe Supreme Chili and Valarde Chili, Amaranth Paiute, New Mexico Tomatillo, Colorado Bolita Beans, Hopi Red Lima Beans, and Hopi Yellow Pole Beans.
Posted on Thu, January 21, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Julia Middleton
My mother and I have been arguing for years about how to make the perfect soft boiled egg so when she scanned the table of contents in the Best Food Writing 2009 and saw Eggs Enough and Time by Margaret McArthur, she felt obligated to put a copy of the book for me under the Christmas tree. After both of us read the article, I am happy to say we’ve solved the time disagreement amiably.
The Best Food Writing anthology has included answers to this question and many more food musings since it was first published in 2000. One of the most exciting things about the 2009 edition is the breadth of sources included in this collection. As you would expect, The New Yorker, Gourmet [RIP -ed.], Bon Appetit, The New York Times and Gastronomica were all represented. But what is more impressive to me is the range of newspapers and blogs that published noteworthy food writing in 2009. As Jerusha explored in a post on this blog last week, online food writing is upping the ante and helping to create not only better educated eaters but also rich food communities.
This edition of Best Food Writing 2009 is also filled with not only fine writers you’d expectRuth Reichl, Frank Bruni and Marcella Hazanbut others you may not. Douglas Bauer’s What We Hunger For, an elegy to his friendship with M.F.K. Fisher, is a beautiful reminder of the conviviality of food. The Misunderstood Habanero by Tim Stark, a struggling writer-turned-farmer-finally-turned-successful-writer, explores the spicy chili pepper and is another excellent addition.
Posted on Wed, January 13, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Emily Vaughn
In a world of increasing globalization and environmental degradation, management of its most precious living resource, biological diversity, is one of the most important and critical challenges facing humankind today.
- Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
While slow food advocates might value biodiversity solely for its ecological value, the UN seeks to increase awareness about the other sectors that also rely on it by naming 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). For example, did you know that more than 57% of the 150 most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals in the US have their origins in biodiversity?” The importance of biodiversity is so far-reaching that Dr. Robert Bloomfield, director of the UKs IYB celebrations, points to a recent international report which warns that our neglect of the natural services provided by biodiversity is an economic catastrophe of an order of magnitude greater than the global economic crisis.”
Of course, biodiversity is hugely important in agriculture. What better microcosm of biological interdependence is there than a farm? Whether considering air and water purification, microbial composition of soil, erosion prevention, or disease resistance, biodiversity is always center stage in food production, and is crucial for food security.
Keep an eye on the news and our blog for coverage of IYB events and talks, especially after the February 10 North American kickoff at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the meantime, check out the excellent resources for educators and concerned citizens that the IYBs organizing body, the Conference for Biological Diversity, has prepared.
As the new biodiversity program intern at Slow Food USA, Im excited to see worldwide attention surrounding an issue that Ive chosen to make my own focus, and look forward to using the blog to spread the word about UN and SFUSA biodiversity projects in the coming months!
Posted on Fri, January 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Last night a local NYC bookstore convened some local-grown (but nationally known) food writers to discuss the state of online food writing. The panelists were:
Each of these panelists came to online food writing from different places—with Julie P. almost the young grandmommy of the movement. Looking at her old Salon blog, one has to smile—only 6 years old or so and it looks like an ancient artifact, a sepia-toned e-photograph of a simpler time. Fast forward to the lively, media rich sites like Serious Eats and Food52 and one is amazed at how far we’ve come. Conversation was lively, exploring how online food writing and real live books and newspapers can work together, even complement each other; what the demise of Gourmet meant, if anything; how online writing is exciting because it lacks the doubting gatekeepers of old institutions (who like to pigeonhole writers into their specific beats and who sometimes can’t think outside the box); how online writing can be used to form food communities (like Food52).
Interestingly not mentioned was how each of these folks use twitter—which most of them do!
One highlight: when Civil Eats editor Paula Crossfield asking about the transition we’ve all seen from food writing focusing solely on pleasure to food writing exploring provenance and politics. An extremely important point that hit home for this writer, certainly, as well as for Powell—now writing about whole animal butchery—and Erway—a regular on the NYC sustainable food scene.
Another highlight: a high school teacher in the audience got up and explained that he teaches a course called “Food and NYC” and asked the panelists for their suggestions on where to take a 16 year old for the afternoon in order to “enliven their relationship with food.” What lucky high schoolers! What a great questions! Most of the panelists seem to agree that meeting producers like bakers, pizzaiolos, farmers at the market etc. would be a great start. Also agreed upon were the ethnic culinary riches of Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Jackson Heights, Queens. Then the conversation veered towards the idea of bringing kids to high end French restaurants and my frustration grew….then, Cathy Erway to the rescue: “bring them to an urban farm!”
Phew, all was not lost.
Posted on Tue, January 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Some people want to be told what to eat. Ever get asked about the Slow Food diet? I do. Countless times Ive explained that there is no slow food diet, that its not meant to be a dogmatic philosophy. But this doesnt stop well-intentioned people from wanting someone to spoon feed them a rubric by which they can figure out what the heck to eat. People, it seems, are overwhelmed and confused.
On The Daily Show the other night, Jon Stewart asked Michael Pollan to distill the 64 rules from his new book Food Rules, down to one simple statement. Eat food, Pollan replied with a smile. They both chuckled.
Some might wonder: if its that simple, why does Pollan keep popping out books like this? Why write a short, radically pared down book (his words) full of rules? As he explains in the intro, the 64 rules are basically 64 short roads back to eat food. This book is clearly intended for the overwhelmed and confused folks, not for Pollans faithful readers and acolytes who, by now I presume, are starting to understand the larger picture of our food system.
Pollan is the master of communication, and he somehow manages to produce a list that is decidedly not dogmatic, full of cultural expressions rather than scientific ones. Many are retreads, i.e. if you read Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food, you wont find much new to chew on here. But this book has great potential to reach a broader audience. It is, as Jon Stewart described it, fun-sized. Its small, easy to palm, and easy to understand. Its organized into three sections that act as tiers of engagement: section 1 tells you what to eat (food, remember?). Once youre eating that way, section 2 can help you figure out which foods. Finally, section 3 can tell you how to eat themand chew isnt an exaggeration. A bunch of them come down to chewing and it helps you realize just how far many Americans have traveled from the whole process we call eating.
Posted on Mon, January 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
What we’ll be talking about this year: Marion Nestle outlines her predictions for the top food news issues for 2010.
Sustainable chef gets a mainstream nod: Yum Sugar readers name Rick Bayless male chef of the year.
Posted on Thu, December 31, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Sam Levin, one of three coordinators of Project Sprout. Project Sprout is a student led and inspired onsite garden that supplements food served in the Monument Mountain High School (in Great Barrington, MA).
Exactly 365 days ago I sat down at this same computer and wrote a New Years Resolution piece for the Slow Food Blog. I said that my resolution was to inspire six other schools to start organic, student-led gardens. But do you ever tell yourself youre going to do something, say, run 5 miles, but its really not until you stagger back into your house panting and dripping with sweat that you actually believe yourself? I guess I forgot how much can happen in the 8,760 hours that make up a year, because I did not really believe that my resolution would come to fruition.
However, one month after I first made that resolution we traveled to Marthas Vineyard to speak at the schools there. My friend Luke had put together a video about our project, and we presented it to the public high school and the charter school. Within days after we spoke at the high school, a Facebook group of 90 kids had formed to start a garden. I wasnt able to make it to the groundbreaking at the charter school that happened a few months later, but apparently the kids were ecstatic.
Posted on Wed, December 30, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
[this post originally appeared on the Huffington Post Green Page]
This week I did a guest post for the blog of an amazing 12-year-old named Orren Fox. He asked me to explain why I care about food/why kids should care about food.
I think it’s hard to tell someone why they should care about something. When I meet someone who doesn’t give a damn about what they eat, I think about my own indifference to, say, football. Someone could sit me down and make me watch Rudy, or explain until they’re blue in the face why this sport above all others is a prism for the human spirit or something like that. I am guessing, though, at the end of it all I’d still not really care that much about football.
So, is it possible to get someone to care about food? To put time into learning how to cook? And are the reasons a kid should care about food any different from why an adult should care about food? I believe strongly that we have a responsibility to provide kids with the tools to care, but I feel the same way about adults.
Anyway, for Orren’s blog I came up with the following list:
I love cooking because I love ingredients: I get such a thrill from visiting farms and seeing how food grows. The first time I saw asparagus growing I was shocked to see the spears popping right up through the dirt. How had I not known that? At the farmers market I love seeing brussels sprouts still attached to the stalk, getting a lesson in how they grow, while I’m shopping. I love eating something when it’s fresh—right off the vine, right off the farm. The taste is unbelievable.
I love cooking because I love transformation: Cooking is science meets magic. Anyone who loves a good science experiment or an art project can appreciate the magic of a sharp raw onion sautéing down into something sweet and sugary. Or the incredible transformation of fresh basil, oil, parmiggiano cheese and pine nuts into pesto, a personal favorite of mine.
I love cooking because I love to share, to express my affection for friends and family through home-cooked meals: Cooking for people is a way to get people to hang out with you—it’s true! When you offer people home cooked food, they come in droves and the conversation flows and by the end of the meal everyone knows each other a bit better, and everyone feels taken care of.
It turns out that there are unexpected side benefits, too.
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.