What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Mon, November 10, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Ariane Lotti
At the closing ceremony of Terra Madre, a spontaneous protest broke out. As a pre-recorded message by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, played on-screen, delegates in the audience stood and turned their backs on him.
For four days, thousands of producers, cooks, students, activists and academics from 153 countries shared stories, exchanged information and compared notes on topics ranging from starting a school garden and producing quality honey to using agro-ecological principles to address climate change and finding ways to make food more affordable while paying farmers a fair price.
During those four days, it was impossible to meet someone not doing something really cool and unique. In line for lunch, I met a Kenyan woman who started an organization that educates street girls about organic farming and environmental conservation and connecting them with farmers in need of these services. At lunch another day, I sat across from a man who works with indigenous communities in North America and uses permaculture techniques to establish food security in those communities. On the bus, I sat next to two young farmers from Oregon who have run a Community-Supported Agriculture farm for three years and are beginning to experiment with ways to be completely energy self sufficient.
Apart from the informal and spontaneous conversations with people, there were workshops and regional meetings where delegates spoke about how they had started an urban community garden, gotten sustainably-grown food in schools and cafeterias, and achieved a wage raise for farmworkers against political, economic, and cultural odds. All these stories shared a narrative: there were problems in my community; I believed things could be different and better; and I worked to translate that belief into a reality.
Posted on Tue, November 04, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA intern, Cecilia Estriech
As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us are steeling ourselves for yet another holiday feast featuring a mealy industrially produced bird. Turkey, in most American households, is the white elephant on the buffet tableeveryone knows that the nearly ubiquitous broad-breasted white is dry and flavorless, but most of us are too polite to say anything (it is a holiday after all). The members of Slow Food Russian River are trying to change our turkey experience one heritage breed at a time.
Situated in Californias Sonoma valley where the broad-breasted white was first bred in the 1950s, Slow Food Russian River has established the Heritage Turkey Project to encourage the production of endangered breeds. The three-year old program partners with 4-H and Future Farmers of America to get kids in the region involved in raising the turkeys. Every year, six to ten young people raise two-hundred heritage breed turkeys provided by the Russian River chapter. Once they reach maturity, the birds are sold at market price$7.50 per pound this year. For their labor, the kids receive all the revenue from sales.
In addition to providing kids with hands-on experience working with heritage breeds, it also encourages consumers in the community to expand their palates. Russian River committee leader Rick Theis remarks that residents are learning about Heritage Turkeys and the Slow Food Movement, and tasting the results. The turkeys have become so popular, in fact, that they consistently sell out with an ample waitlist.
Posted on Fri, October 24, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Turns out, a lot.
Last March, KayCee Wimbish, winner of the $500 Culinate Youth Food Awareness scholarship to Terra Madre, uprooted her life in Brooklyn, NY and moved upstate to Tivoli to start Awesome Farm with fellow new farmer, Owen OConnor.
We asked KayCee, who is part of the growing Youth Food Movement and one of over 1,300 Youth Delegates at Terra Madre, a few questions about her farm, her philosophy and a certain security donkey.
Q: In a New York Times article on the new generation of farmers published March 16, you say that moving to NYC was the catalyst that got you farming. What pushed you to become a farmer? Given that you grew in the heartland of America, don’t you find this ironic?
A: New York City introduced me to an entirely different way of thinking about food. I learned about CSAs for the first time, joined one, and fell in love with the vegetables and the idea. Growing up in Oklahoma, I had very little contact with local foods, farmer’s markets, political ideas around food, and it was hard to eat out and not eat at chain restaurant. I grew up in the suburbs, and it sure didn’t feel like the heartland. Growing food is such a tangible political act. As I struggled to make sense of the injustices, inequities, racism and other huge, heady issues, farming made so much sense to me.
Q: Like Joel Salatin, you identify yourself as a Grass Farmer. Talk to us a little about your farming practices and philosophy.
A: We farm on rented land that is very marginal in quality. Vegetables could not be grown on this land, but our sheep can convert the grass and legumes and weeds into usable energy that people can then eat. We are actually improving the quality of the pasture, minimizing erosion and encouraging native plants and growing food at the same time.
We also have laying hens and raised meat chickens this year. The chickens are problematic for us because of their dependence on grain. Philosophically, I don’t want to be feeding animals grain: it is expensive, and although it is local and organic, we still have to drive and pick it up. The land used to the grow grain for the animals can be used for grain for humans. We want to kick out the middleman that is grain. We want to raise animals that eat grass. However, we love the laying hens and we want to be able to have eggs. We are trying an idea put forth by the Vermont Compost Company and are currently getting pre- and post-consumer waste from the cafeteria of the nearby elementary school in order to supplement the chickens’ foraging with community food scraps. Its a big experiment, but we are excited to keep food out of the landfill, use up a local resource and create more connections within the community.
Posted on Tue, October 21, 2008 by Nathan Leamy
by 2008 Terra Madre delegate Ariane Lotti
At Terra Madre, lets strategize to overcome the challenges to growing a good, clean, and fair agriculture.
After a stint spent working for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on the 2008 Farm Bill, I decided to spend some quality time in the Ground Zero of government-supported, conventional commodity agriculture: Rural Iowa, USA.
New to the land of corn and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), I knew my mission was two-fold. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the system that reportedly produces the cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world. I also wanted to find the points of resistance and weakness where the alternatives to a high-input, low-diversity production agriculture flourish.
For four months, I lived and worked on a farm five miles down a gravel road from the nearest town and eleven miles from the nearest internet connection. While I spent my spare time visiting CAFOs, riding in combines, going to county fairs, and driving down dusty roads, I farmed full-time for Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf of One Step at a Time Gardens in North Central Iowa.
Posted on Tue, September 23, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Slow Food USA staffer Julia Middleton
Are you interested in the science behind where your food comes from, how it is grown and the new organic food movement? Do you have a passion for business and food and need a way to connect the two in your academics? Have you considered the cultural significance of food in different societies? These questions and many more can be explored in the new dual major EcoGastronomy Program offered at the University of New Hampshire.
As fall begins and a new school year is underway, the University of New Hampshire has unveiled its new dual major EcoGastronomy Program. Students in the program will take an integrated approach to their education by complementing their primary major with a combination of hands on learning, practical skills training and international study opportunities. The EcoGastronomy Program includes 5 required courses, one elective and 15 credits from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which will continue to nurture the relationship between the program and Slow Food.
The University of New Hampshires EcoGastronomy Program has had a special relationship with Slow Food as the program was inspired by a visit from Carlo Petrini in 2006. After he was presented with an honorary degree at the University, faculty and staff from the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, the Whittemore Schools of Business and Economics and the University Office of Sustainability came together to develop the core curriculum and plan of study for this new degree. The relationship with Slow Food has continued as students at the University of New Hampshire worked together to start a now thriving Slow Food chapter on Campus.
University students across the country are responding to a heightened awareness of food in society by demanding dual degree programs, study abroad opportunities and seminars with a focus on food issues locally, nationally and internationally. Congratulations to the University of New Hampshire and the other institutions here and abroad that are working to make educational opportunities available to students, and thus informing the next generation about ways to make good, clean and fair food available to everyone.
Posted on Wed, September 03, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Thanks to all 60,000 of you who came to Slow Food Nation and listened, ate, discussed, networked, bought, and cheered. To the rest of you: we missed you! We had beautiful sunshine, terrific crowds, and many opportunities to meet each other and expand our growing circle of people supporting a good, clean and fair food system.
As we’ve mentioned before there’s been great day-by-day, minute-by-minute coverage on the Slow Food Nation blog--so do check that out.
We’d love to hear your stories—of a favorite product bought at the market place, or a favorite conversation had on a hay bale, of an inspirational talk you attended, or a slow journey you took in the Bay area. We’ll be sharing more too, day by day, so keep checking back in.
For SFUSA Board Member Chef Kurt Michael Friese’s re-cap on Grist, click here.
For media coverage of the event. you don’t have to look far. Check out the NY Times Dining section today, or sfgate.com’s ongoing coverage, or menupages.com’s interview with Michael Pollan, or seriouseats.com’s coverage, or…or…or….
Posted on Fri, August 08, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Wanna mold young minds? Simply by signing up for a newsletter, you could help send a youth delegate all the way to Italy to discuss sustainable foodways with 6,000 other people from around the world.
Culinate, the food website for those who care about eating better, is sponsoring as many as 10 travel scholarships for youth delegates to Terra Madre and supporting the youth programs held at Slow Food Nation. The number of scholarships awarded will be based on the number of people who join the campaign. For 3500 people who subscribe to Culinate's Youth Food Movement campaign on their website, Culinate will give two scholarships to Slow Food Nation and Terra Madre.
Culinate is footing the bill; all you have to do is sign up to receive Culinate's email newsletter.
Ever checked out Culinate before? As they describe themselves: "We like to think that Culinate is more than just a website; it's an ongoing conversation about learning to eat well. Our content — articles, cooking tips, interviews, recipes, podcasts, food news, blog posts — helps people put real food at the center of their lives."
Posted on Thu, August 07, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
Things have been a bit crazy around here due to a few upcoming Slow Food Events, near and far.
1. Slow Food Nation. San Francisco, Labor Day weekend. If you are not already reading the event blog every day, please add it to your blog roll! Each day there are new posts–about the various Taste Pavilions, about the big issues in the sustainable food movement (check out the recent post on Proposition 2), and various events leading up to the big event, including the release of a new book: COME TO THE TABLE: THE SLOW FOOD WAY OF LIVING.
2. Terra Madre. Turin, Italy. October 23 -27. This biennial meeting will include over 700 delegates from the United States, and 6,000 delegates from around the world. Together, these delegates represent those who produce, sell, harvest, purchase, cook, educate about and promote sustainable food. It's too late to be a delegate this year, but start planning for 2010! This year's event will, for the first time, have a huge youth presence–cooks, farmers, students–with over 200 youth from the US alone.
3. Salone del Gusto. Turin, Italy. October 23 - 27. This giant public event attracts over 140,000 people (yup, you read that right) and happens concurrently with Terra Madre. Go to Turin and experience this giant sustainable food fair. The market is the heart of the event, but there are also taste workshops, dinners, lectures, etc. You can buy tickets online now, leading all the way up to the event.
Posted on Mon, July 28, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
We're not sure if this is an actual trend or just journalists looking for a story but here's a report that college students, low on dough, are turning up at food banks.
This, alongside the the talk of real food being for people who have real money to spend, got us thinking that we should ask you, when your budget is tight for the week/month/life, what do you do to stretch your food dollar?
Posted on Fri, July 25, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
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.