What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, September 10, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by youth programs intern Heather Teige
Students, as you transition back into a new school year and find yourselves thinking about exciting opportunities and events to organize on - campus, take a closer look at Food Not Lawns, The Beehive Design Collective, and Fair Food Across Borders.
Founded by Heather C. Flores, Food Not Lawns’ goal is to encourage and promote food sustainability by growing food in our own backyards. They focus on deepening community ties through gardening and offer advice on how to start a local Food Not Lawns chapter, as well as the how-tos of organizing a community seed swap.
The Beehive Design Collective is a grassroots collective that works by creating social discourse through images. Their belief is that images are a more accessible medium, and that they allow people-despite their social background- to better engage urgent social matters. On an international level they are most known for their graphic campaigns which address globalization and the global justice movement.
Fair Food Across Borders is a Chiapas Media Project (CMP)/Promedios advocacy campaign geared to expose human rights injustices inflicted on Mexican migrant workers by Mexican agribusiness camps. They aim to accomplish this by providing video equipment and training to marginalized indigenous populations in Southern Mexico so that they may create their own media.
Be sure to keep a lookout as all three of these initiatives will be touring this fall. Securing a visit to your campus would create a greater campus awareness of current issues, the opportunity to engage them in a creative manner, and the possibility of making great connections.
[images courtesy of Fair Food Across Borders (Rodrigo Cruz) and The Beehive Design Collective]
Posted on Tue, September 01, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
From August 20 23, I attended the last of three Real Food Challenge Trainings that were held across the country this summer in an effort to prepare students to change the on campus food system this fall.
Young food activists gathered in Santa Cruz, California; Ames, Iowa; and Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in collaborative training sessions that, hopefully, empowered them to return to their schools this fall and do something. Take a stand. Start a conversation. Educate peers. And ultimately, begin to change the food system in some way, big or small.
Students descended on these trainings from various locations, institutions and backgrounds; some new to the food movement as a whole and others with success stories to share. However, the common thread is a firm belief that everyone has a right to good, clean and fair food.
During the course of each training, attendees participated in an array of workshops, which provided background on the issues along with the most important strategies for addressing these concerns. Students brainstormed about the key steps to planning a successful campaign, with particular focus on identifying the drivers and targets. In the end, everyone went away energized and ready to take what they learned, find a crew of like-minded individuals and work to achieve a victory this fall.
And, the tomatoes. The Boston training did not suffer from tomato blight. We ate fresh summer tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyday. The tomatoes added not only to each meal, but also to conversations with Meghan Cohorst from the Student/Farmworker Alliance about ways to connect the Dine with Dignity campaign to the Real Food Challenge. Food for thought? Certainly.
Posted on Fri, August 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by youth programs intern Reece Trevor
Slow Food USA will profile a number of our 2008 Slow Food in Schools Micro-Grant recipients in the coming months. Look out for these profiles, along with best practice suggestions for Slow Food in Schools projects from our 2008 Micro-Grant recipients, which will be housed on the Youth Programs page this fall.
Diablo Community Day School isnt a typical high school. Its students have been expelled from every other school in the district; many of them have been shuttled around the alternative education system for months. Diablo Day is their last chance.
Something else sets Diablo Day apart: its school garden. In mid-2008, volunteers from Slow Food Delta Diablo, supported by a Slow Food USA Micro-Grant and donations from local businesses, set up an 8-bed garden on Diablo Days grounds and planted a number of permanent fruit trees. Every Tuesday for the rest of the school year, the garden ladies would join students in the garden as they learned about new foods and new ways of eating.
Within weeks of the gardens opening, teachers at Diablo Day started to notice its successes. From the slow food perspective, the benefits of growing closer to their food was obvious, but the kids got much more. Teachers were amazed at how well gardening promoted teamwork and communications skills. Most of all, Diablo Days students go home knowing that theyve created something that they can nurture as it grows—from a seed into an edible plant. As one student put it, In the garden, I feel a sort of peace. I feel so proud of myself because I know that some of the wonderful things that I planted are still growing.
Posted on Wed, July 22, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Heidi Busse
Madison, Wisc. When students get to work in a garden, good things happen. An empty lot is transformed into edible fields, students learn job skills that connect them with their agrarian heritage and fresh produce is harvested for the local food pantry.
These are just a few of the benefits that students at Madison East High School are learning and sharing with the community. This summer, Community GroundWorks at Troy Gardens has created an urban farm in partnership with Madison East and the Goodman Community Center. If successful, their goal is to create a new model for high school agriculture education.
When we started [this spring], there was nothing planted here, says Megan Cain, East High Farm Manager. Now this 5-acre plot is a lush vegetable garden, a mosaic of newly tilled vegetable beds. The land was originally donated to the Madison School District in the 1950s by a retiring dairy farmer. The school district built an elementary school on the land, but kept 5 acres of woods and green space to use as a demonstration site for their agriculture program. When I walk the land and see the stands of edible fruit trees and wildflower prairie that stand among the newly planted vegetable beds, I cant help but dwell for a moment on the hard work and dreams that have been put into this place long before the students started farming this summer.
East Highs agriculture program has been eliminated other programs have higher priority and more interest but the district has kept the land as a community gardening site. The pressure to transform the site into something of value weighs heavy, because the district would benefit from the profits of selling the land. So this summer, Community GroundWorks came in to help the district realize the farms educational potential and provide jobs to East High students and Native American youth.
Posted on Tue, July 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
I sure like reading about new young farmers, and I like them to get recognition for their work. I like them to be treated like rock stars and I like the idea that this will encourage and inspire even more young hopefuls to do like the newspapers say is the big new trend, and start farming.
Congrats to all!
Posted on Thu, July 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gabrielle Redner
Not only does Catherine Gund’s film, What’s On Your Plate? educates its audience about where our food comes from, it also investigates why getting good food to all people all the time is challenging. The audience follows two seventh graders as they make the journey that food takes, from the farm to CSAs and farmer’s markets, to schools and into the home. Sadie and Safiyah meet all the people involved in feeding the tremendous appetite of nine million New Yorkers. Throughout the film, the girls explore some essential questions: Why does food that is bad for us exist? Why can’t everyone eat healthy, non-processed food all the time?
The timing for this film’s debut could not have been better, as we team up to reform the Child Nutrition Act. Identifying what must be changed seems simple, but taking those steps means overcoming many hurdles, educating key people, raising money, and building networks across the food chain to get the job done.
Sadie and Safiyah know that more fresh fruits and vegetables, even local ones, should be in their school lunchroom. Why aren’t they? For starters, the school kitchen doesn’t have a stove, so cooking is out of the question. They need the money to buy one, and the staff to cook rather than heat up frozen meals. Sadie and Safiyah soon realize that, even with good intentions, change takes time. In this timely film, two twelve year-olds teach all of us a lesson on how to ask questions and build a team. While they are often two against one in their interviews, they do not intimidate. (Not only because they are middle school girls; that could still be scary!). They ask questions to policy makers with open-mindedness and genuine curiosity, and receive candid responses. Ultimately, the girls bring people together to work towards a city filled with better food.
Gund’s film offers enlightenment to all kinds of audiences. Those who know little about the sources of their food learn about farming and the processes of urban food distribution, as well as basic differences between processed and real food. Others who are more familiar with our food system will discover why we cannot fix its broken pieces all at once.
The subplot of this film is the networking amongst like-minded individuals, who all believe in feeding good food to all people. This is a must-see movie. Be ready to laugh, to learn and to be warmed by the sense of community amongst people who love real food. For more about the movie, click here go to their web site.
Gabrielle is a former Slow Food USA intern and an undergraduate student at NYU who enjoys, among other things, food, writing, traveling and the ocean.
Posted on Thu, May 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA Intern Melissa Rosenberg
In 2007, Virginia Tech Dining Services (VTDS) was ranked #1 for Best Campus Foods by the Princeton Review, getting high marks for student satisfaction. Recognized for its outstanding work by food industry peers, VTDS received the prestigious 2009 Ivy Award, bestowed each year upon exceptional food service operations.
Hired as the VTDS Sustainability Coordinator in October of 2008, Andy Sarjahani jumpstarted an effort to support sustainable food systems by monitoring every aspect of its food services. In a short time, Andy and his team have implemented a vast array of initiatives: removing trays to decrease food waste, composting, and working with distributors, non-profits and local farmers in a variety of Farm-to-College programs.
In addition, VTDS began growing its own herbs in a garden operated by the Horticulture Department and switched from Pennsylvania-raised factory farm eggs to Virginia-raised organic cage-free eggs. While somewhat more expensive, the food does more than taste delicious: VTDS $8 million budget enables the university to significantly impact the state food and agriculture economy as it feeds 34,000 hungry stomachs each day.
In March, statewide attention was drawn to the changes in VTDS buying practices after the Humane Society of the United States issued a press release celebrating the changes. Since then, staff members have come under pressure from such agribusiness groups as the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Virginia Poultry Federation, among several others. The lobbyists are asking the university to scale back or cease its work on promoting awareness and access to sustainable food.
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 Fri, April 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Allison Archer, an Emory student, did her thesis project on sustainability initiatives at her school—CNN saw it, liked it and condensed it into a 4.5 minute piece, all about how integrating sustainable food into the equation is an essential component of greening a campus. This is just one example of how Slow Food on Campus chapters are beginning to take the nation by storm. There are currently 20 Slow Food on Campus chapters, around the country, all working to address the need for a good, clean and fair food system in the United States and abroad. Students who participate in Slow Food on Campus are passionately organizing their peers, faculty and greater campus community to organize around a fairer food system.
Slow Food Emory is one of the newest Slow Food on Campus chapters, which makes it all the more impressive that they already gaining national attention for their initiatives. As they explain, Slow Food Emory hopes to heal ties severed by industrial fare and the campus meal plan.Ԡ The chapter has held potluck picnics, developed an edible school garden for the Captain Planet Foundation, and hosted a restaurant raffle that has introduced students to local, sustainable restaurants in the community.
For more information about what other Slow Food on Campus chapters are doing around the country and how to start a chapter at your college or university, check out the Slow Food on Campus page on our website.
Posted on Mon, March 23, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Farm fresh food often gets a bad rap for being more expensive. Better school food? “More expensive,” think most. Think again: in Oregon state lawmakers are looking for ways to stimulate the local economy, and it turns out that locally produced food in 91 school lunchrooms may be one way to do it. Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation has analyzed investing in the local food economy and discovered that:
1. A small amount of money can leverage much greater investment in local purchasing.
2. For every food dollar spent locally by two school districts, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon.
3. The economic investments in the Oregon agricultural community trigger successive spending in almost every part of the Oregon economy.
Deborah Kane the Vice President of the Food and Farms program for Ecotrust says, “This research confirms that the farm-to-school programs are a viable investment that can make an immediate impact on nearly every sector of our state’s economy.”
And that’s not all. The study noted other benefits including a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and an increased demand for local products. For example, apples, beef, chili, cheese and corn are now sourced locally. As a result of these positive benefits, two Oregon legislators are now proposing a bill to expand from the current two school districts to a statewide farm to school effort.
To read more about the study, click here.
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.