What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, January 29, 2013 by Slow Food USA
FoodCorps fellow Kathleen Yetman talks with FoodCorps service member Gilbert Ivins about connecting First Nation young people with their food culture.
Getting kids back to their ancestral roots
By Kathleen Yetman, FoodCorps Fellow and Gilbert Ivins, FoodCorps service member
Cibecue, Arizona is a community of 1700 White Mountain Apache tribal members situated among stunning red rock hills, scrub juniper, and sprawling grasslands. It is located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona at the foot of the White Mountains. Cibecue is off the beaten path—an hour’s drive from any other town or city—and due to its isolation, food options are limited. There are three convenience stores in Cibecue. Last year, while serving as a FoodCorps service member, I perused the shelves of the largest of the three. There was one cooler in the back of the store sparsely stocked with packaged cucumbers and half-ripe tomatoes, and a couple of heads of iceberg lettuce. These are the only vegetables for sale in the community. In one of the other stores, with a growling stomach, I searched for the healthiest item, and after settling on a 16-ounce block of cheddar cheese, discovered that it cost $7.00. In that same store, one can buy 308 ounces of soda for the same price.
Most Cibecue families make a weekly trip 48 miles to Walmart, where food prices are cheaper and there is a greater variety. You can imagine then, because access to fresh vegetables is so restricted in Cibecue, what families are left to purchase to feed their families if they can’t make that weekly trek. So it’s not all that surprising that kids growing up there may have never seen a real carrot. In 2010 FoodCorps partnered with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (JHCAIH) and beginning last year placed two FoodCorps service members on the reservation to teach gardening and nutrition to kids at Dischii’bikoh (Cibecue) Community School. Through the Edible School Garden program third, fourth, and fifth graders learn about the plant life cycle, tools to help them choose healthier foods, and about the wild foods their ancestors used to eat.
This year, we are fortunate to have Gilbert Ivins as our service member in Cibecue. Gilbert is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and has lived in Cibecue his whole life. Prior to FoodCorps, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician and firefighter in his community. Last week I sat down with Gilbert to hear about his service thus far. This is what he had to say:
Gilbert: Being a FoodCorps service member is really cool because I get to be the stepping-stone for many young Native American youth making a positive change toward their health and nutrition. So far this year with the kids from Cibecue Elementary, I have seen that my presence there has made a big difference. I’ve seen kids try all the vegetables and fruits we brought them. I think that with FoodCorps and Johns Hopkins University supporting the cause for which we are fighting we can be very successful. For example, one student told me he wished he could never grow old so he could stay in Edible School Garden and Native Vision forever and that Edible School Garden would continue throughout his time in school all the way up until he graduates. I strongly believe that FoodCorps has touched the hearts and souls of the Apache youth in Cibecue, making it all the merrier to continue this movement in the community of Cibecue.
Kathleen: What are some of the challenges you see facing kids in your community?
Gilbert: The main challenge here is the gangs and the influences they have on the kids such as drugs, alcohol and violence. Obesity is another issue that comes into play because the parents don’t discipline their kids enough to choose healthier products and instead feed them all the non-healthy food that is easily available at any given moment.
Kathleen: Do you have a sense of why people (parents) eat unhealthy foods instead of healthy ones?
Gilbert: I think that the people eat unhealthy because they don’t have anyone to tell them differently or teach them classes on healthy products just like we do with Edible School Garden. Not only that, but also its what they grew up learning so it’s in there genes long before they are even brought into the world. I strongly believe that to be true because everyone here is born and raised on the reservation, not knowing anything else other than what is being served to them on the dinner table. So it makes it easier to hate all the vegetables and fruits that are supposed to be healthy for them.
Kathleen: How do you see your service addressing all of these challenges?
Gilbert: I see my service addressing these issues by working through the kids. By that I mean teaching and showing these kids healthy from non-healthy items. I hope that kids take home and share with their parents the information they get from our classes. I hope too that the parents will come to us with questions about healthy eating lifestyles.
Kathleen: What is the biggest challenge you face in your service? What is the biggest reward?
Gilbert: My biggest challenge I face in my year of service is coming out of this successfully, having touched many lives and changed the community for the better and for the future of the kids. My biggest reward I would have to say is knowing that I helped make change in my community, especially with getting the youth on the right foot and never going astray from what we have taught them.
Kathleen: What is your favorite part of being a FoodCorps service member?
Gilbert: My favorite part of being a FoodCorps service member is interacting with my Apache youth—teaching them through food that they have had many connections with life even dating back to their ancestors. I like teaching them that this healthy lifestyle has been provided for them even before their time came. The trick is getting them back to their ancestral roots by reintroducing them to the wild foods that grow here. Through the lessons we teach in Edible School Gardens kids now know that there are other alternatives when it comes to choosing what to eat.
Kathleen: How has your service changed you?
Gilbert: I have changed by utilizing what we teach the kids. Knowing in the back of my mind that the kids are doing their part so I figured I’d do my part and step up to the calling that has been presented to me. I am taking the opportunity that FoodCorps has given me and bettering my life not only by choosing to be healthier, but also by being an example to the kids.
Posted on Mon, August 27, 2012 by Tim Smith
The Japanese bento box is a cultural food tradition that is perfect for packing a lunch, but also packs flair and color that kids love!
Written by and originally featured on The Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily
We all know school cafeteria school lunch isn’t something to look forward to, and mom’s packed lunches aren’t always the cat’s meow, either. But imagine a lunch so great that it would be the envy of the entire cafeteria. The Japanese bento box, compartmental by nature, is the perfect box to pack lunch in. Not only that, but there’s a tradition in Japan of decorating the food in a bento box to look pleasing to the eye (called “kawaii”)—which, of course, is perfect for kids.
These bento box lunches from our blogger friends are designed for kids. Okay, so they may require some extra time to assemble, but at least you know your kids are eating a healthy lunch made with love and care (let’s hope they’re not trading them for bags of chips). Kids deserve a better, more fun school lunch and these bento boxes guarantee just that.
What do you think of bento box lunches packed for kids? Let us know in the comments.
Posted on Wed, August 22, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Back to school time! The biggest change most students will see will be on cafeteria trays. Check out these 15 innovative ways schools are making lunches healthier.
Written by Seyyada A. Burney, Nourishing the Planet
As summer draws to a close, it’s time for kids to go back to school. Sadly, this often means a return to terribly unhealthy school lunches filled with fried chicken, pizza pockets, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks. School food can jeopardize the health and well-being of America’s next generation, but fortunately, it’s also the best place to start addressing the obesity epidemic—one in three children is obese or overweight, increasing the risks of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems later in life. This needs to change.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) feeds 32 million kids every year and is expanding rapidly as more families qualify for free or reduced-price meals. These lunches represent the primary source of nourishment for many children, but few schools have the facilities or the know-how to prepare fresh food—only the ability to reheat froze, processed foods high in sodium and fat. Even cafeterias that serve more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are often forced to subsidize programs using vending machines and snack bars loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup due to fiscal deficits and a lack of student interest.
Posted on Mon, August 20, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Thoughts from 2 Colorado farmers looking to help bring down the average age for farmers & open up more opportunities for a new generation of growers.
Written by Aylin Saribudak, Real Time Farms Food Warrior
The average age of the American farmer is currently 57, which worries many who are watching the U.S. food system. Luckily, Remy Van Grack and Maya Osterman, of Lindenmeier Farm, are part of a new generation of farmers determined to roll back that number. They generously share their time with me to offer some of their philosophy, experience, and advice for those interested in how to get started in small-scale agriculture.
Maya feels that farming enables herself and Remy to effect positive change on a personal level. According to Maya, small-scale organic and sustainable agriculture has become increasingly popular over the past few years for many reasons. She feels it is good for the local economy and culture, comparatively positive for the environment and community health, and small-scale agriculture helps with food security. Food security is a serious issue – a handful of multi-national corporations increasingly control the food system.
Posted on Tue, August 14, 2012 by Slow Food USA
We’ve teamed up with Daniel Klein and the folks over at Perennial Plate to deliver monthly video stories, our second dispatch features a truly unique youth summer camp.
The Perennial Plate is a fantastic documentary series that explores socially responsible, sustainable and adventurous eating across the U.S. Slow Food USA has a video content partnership with Perennial to showcase one of our favorite films every month.
This Month’s Perennial Plate Feature: Youth Farm
Posted on Mon, August 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
The first installment in our “Food and Farming Spotlight” features 10 year-old leader, Gigi Di Bernardo on how youth are improving the food system.
Written by Slow Food USA’s PR & Marketing Manager, Emily Walsh
As part of a new monthly series here on the blog—“Food and Farming Spotlight”—we will be speaking with Slow Food leaders and members, and food movement personalities alike. This month, we sat down with Gabrielle (Gigi) Di Bernardo.
In a world where fast food chains spend $300 million on youth-targeted marketing per year and where for the first time since the early 1800’s, youth are expected to live shorter lives than their parents, it is hard to not feel like the next generation is powerless to defend itself. Despite the challenges though, more young people every day are taking a stand to improve food and farming.
The unbelievably articulate Birke Baehr from the East Coast immediately comes to mind and how the 11-year-old’s wise-beyond-his-years food production commentary earned him a speaking spot on a TEDx event. Or 12-year-old Mason Harvey from Oklahoma, who after being bullied for years, convinced his family to start eating well and exercising. He lost 85 pounds and is not only feeling better, but is happier at school. And most recently, there was 9-year-old Martha Payne from Western Scotland, who spurred quite the media frenzy. Shortly after she began posting pictures of the unappealing, non-nutritious lunches being served to her at school, her blog was shut down by local officials. However with the public outcry that ensued from food personalities such as Jamie Oliver, it was not long before the ban was lifted.
But how about the young people making moves in our own, Slow Food community? I would like you to meet 10-year-old Gabrielle (Gigi) Di Bernardo, who recently received a proclamation from Temecula, CA’s mayor for the food education and environmental work she is doing there. Gigi is the daughter of Leah Di Bernardo, co-leader of Slow Food Temecula and as Leah will proudly tell you, she is a bright little girl with her own big thoughts on food. But I think you will agree when you read the below transcript that her thoughts truly speak for themselves.
Posted on Wed, July 25, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A plot of land for $1?! A small investment by Chicago’s Growing home has been transformed into a full-scale organic urban farm & helped transform the neighborhood as well.
Written by Michelle Stearn, Real Time Farms Food Warrior
What can you buy with a dollar? An apple, a small fry from McDonald’s, 4 gumballs, a Coke, or… a plot of land fit to bloom into a revolutionary urban farm on Chicago’s South Side. Yep, it’s true. Six years ago, the City of Chicago sold the 2/3 acre plot in Englewood to Growing Home for one measly buck. And now, not only has the land transformed into a full-scale organic farm, but it has helped transform the neighborhood as well. Their mission is to utilize organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development. In other words, they are uplifting Chicago’s neighborhoods, one vegetable at a time. All of this is made possible with the hard work of interns seeking transitional employment – many of whom had troubles finding a job, sometimes due to former incarceration, a history of homelessness or substance abuse, or even simply a lack of education.
You might be thinking… This will never work. How will the harvest ever get picked? Those people are not trained in gardening – they have no experience as farmers. Well, consider this: in 2010, Growing Home’s Wood St. Urban Farm (the one I visited) grew and sold over 11,000 pounds of organic produce and brought in over $45,000 as income for the interns! They sell CSA Shares to community members, have a weekly market on Wood St., market their goods at Green City Market, and even sell their goods to Chicago restaurants like Big Bowl. If that’s enough to change your mind about the effectiveness of the program, you can stop reading now. But you probably shouldn’t, because there are so many other things that Growing Home is doing to help the community, it’s mind-boggling.
Posted on Thu, May 03, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Real Time Farms Food Warrior, Lauren, explores biodynamic farming in her community.
Written by Lauren Telfer, Real Time Farms Food Warrior
On my weekly trips to the grocery store I transform into an avid food inspector for a short period of time: I look for different certifications, growing practices, and any other pertinent information about my food. I am on a constant quest for food that is not only nourishing for my body but also for the earth. Until recently, I thought that organic farming practices was the be-all and end-all answer to this quest; on a recent enlightening (and very rainy) trip to the Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market in downtown Berkeley, I was informed that this is not the case. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about biodynamic farming – a practice that actually surpasses organic farming in sustainability and environmental awareness.
I was first introduced to biodynamic farming at this farmers market through a vendor from Flying Disc Ranch, a date and citrus farm located in Thermal, California. I inquired about their practices and was surprised when the usual response of “certified organic” didn’t come, instead his reply was, “We are a biodynamic farm.” Biodynamic? This sounded intriguing and innovative, I was immediately captivated and rightfully so.
Posted on Wed, April 18, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A high school science project becomes a community mission for local food; leads to a cafeteria rooftop greenhouse and the community’s first produce market.
Written by Kate Soto, Slow Food USA member who can also be found at her blog, DomestiKating
Humboldt Park is one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhood areas, just west of trendy Wicker Park. It’s known for its beautiful 207-acre park, as well as its deeply rooted Puerto Rican community. Every June, thousands descend upon California and Division Streets to celebrate the Puerto Rican People’s Parade, where you can buy corn and arepas and any number of delicious foods. Yet, this neighborhood, comprised of a community with strong ties to cuisine, is considered a food desert.
The term food desert has been buzzing around Chicago since Mayor Emanuel declared it one of the key issues of his tenure. Approximately 40 percent of the city lives in a ‘food desert’, characterized by a lack of access to fresh, healthy food and grocery stores. These areas happen to occur exclusively in low-income African-American and Latino neighborhoods—like Humboldt Park.
Long before Mayor Emanuel took office, groups had been exploring the implications of food deserts on health and community. In 2006, Mari Gallagher produced a notable report examining their negative impact on public health. Around the same time, Sinai Urban Health Institute did a study that identified Humboldt Park’s obesity rate as considerably higher than the city average: 50 percent of Humboldt Park’s children were found to be obese.
Posted on Tue, March 06, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Four of the youngest leaders in the Slow Food movement walk us through how they founded a Slow Food chapter at their high school in Iowa City.
Written by Bennett Thompson, Benjamin West, Elizabeth Vandenberg, and Joseph Malanson
We are students from Iowa City West High School, and Slow Food USA’s youngest members. Surrounded by the corn and soybean fields of southeast Iowa, we’ve all grown up in the spirit of agriculture, but with varying visions of what a farm should be. Over the past two years, our activities as a part of Slow Food have formed our understanding of sustainability and good food.
The first time I heard about Slow Food was September 2010, when I listened to chef Kurt Friese speak at his restaurant, Devotay. I asked him what high-schoolers like me could do to help the cause. He said it’s simple: start a Slow Food chapter at our school.
So, that’s what we did. We got in touch with Slow Food USA & through the Slow Food on Campus program, our fledgling club become a proper chapter—the first and only High School Chapter in the country. Just like that, the West High Slow Food Chapter was up and running—described to the rest of the student body as one part environmental, one part culinary club. At our first meeting we decided we wanted to do something big, something that would not only tell students, but show them how proper food should grow and taste. Naturally, the solution was to start a garden. To tell that story, I’ll pass it on to Benjamin, another West High Slow Food leader.
- Bennett Thompson, ‘12, West High School Slow Food (WHSF) Leader
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.