What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, September 02, 2010 by Slow Food USA
Thanks to a program hosted by the Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Highland Park, Los Angeles, we now have proof that nutrition education helps kids stay healthy.
Thanks to a program hosted by the Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Highland Park, Los Angeles, we now have proof that nutrition education helps kids stay healthy. The program, called L.A. Sprouts, is one of the nation’s first research studies to measure and demonstrate the health benefits of youth focused long-term nutrition, cooking and gardening programs.
The after school course consisted of twelve weekly classes for fourth and fifth graders from a local school. Each meeting included a healthy cooking lesson followed by a gardening session with a master gardener. Workshop leaders demonstrated new recipes to the students weekly and, working together in groups of five, the students then prepared the meal themselves. As part of the program, the students regularly visited a local farmers market and received a voucher to buy a fruit or a vegetable to take home.
With the goal of converting learning into action, the L.A. Sprouts project focuses on making eating healthier a family affair by sharing information about recipes and farmers’ markets with the parents of participating children. The result? Workshop leaders found that children and families did make changes to their eating habits as a result of participating in this project.
“L.A. Sprouts participants had increased preference for vegetable intake, specifically carrots and nopales, and increased self-efficacy for cooking and gardening compared to control students, ” said one of the project organizers, Emily Ventura, PhD, MPH, University of Southern California.
Using cookware donated by Anolon, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, L.A. Sprouts students gained hands-on experience making complete and healthy meals like quesadillas with greens, quinoa salad with kale and winter squash, and whole-wheat pasta with vegetable ragout. L.A. Sprouts was organized by the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Posted on Tue, June 08, 2010 by Intern
by intern Maia Piccagli
Many of you may recognize Dr. Susan Rubin, the leader of Slow Food Westchester, from the school food documentary, 2 Angry Moms. What you may not know is that last summer she, along with the kitchen staff at Camp Ballibay, took on traditional camp food and successfully overturned tradition.
The story started when Chef Ellen Thomas approached Dr. Rubin about finding college kids to staff the camp kitchen. As a mom of campers, she was especially interested in providing good food, and asked if instead, she could come work in the kitchen. Ellen welcomed her, created new menus, and together they transformed the camp diet from one of largely packaged and processed foods sourced by Sysco to a locally-supplied, fresh, and nutritious menu items that the campers ultimately loved. 30% of their fruit came from local Pennsylvania producers. One of the best parts was, when all was said and done, their new kitchen practices resulted in a $5000 savings.
They didn’t strip camp favorites like pizzas and sandwiches from the menu, but they sourced the ingredients differently. They made everything from scratch—even yogurt and granola. Campers were introduced to foods with which they may not have been familiar, like Korean rice balls and hummus (check out their hummus music video above). She recognized that raising awareness and providing healthy food options needed to be done, but had to be done with fun to be engaging.
Campers loved the changes. A performing arts camp, Ballibay holds a variety of “jam nights,” musical jam sessions where students can strut their stuff. They added a “kitchen jam” as a joke one night, and 21 campers showed up! The staff began rotating campers through the kitchen to help cook.
Posted on Wed, May 19, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Greetings from Detroit, where I’m attending the 5th Annual Farm to Cafeteria conference.
On Monday, as a lead-up to the conference, I acted as one of the judges for the Healthy Schools Campaign Cooking Up Change contest, in which 3 high school finalist teams, and two college finalist teams competed to create the best (tastiest, most innovative, and in line with school purchasing and IOM nutrition standards) healthy school lunch. Any of you who have been following our Time for Lunch campaign and the battle in Congress right now for more money for school lunch know that making a healthy and delicious school lunch for only $1—what’s left after overhead & payroll—is incredibly hard. The kids were articulate and adorable and cooked up some tasty treats! The highlights for me were a chicken breast crusted with pesto and, yep, corn flakes; a cornbread casserole with beans, cheese, and tomatoes; and the winner, a meal that included a tepary bean quesadilla! You can read an interview with the kids here, and please note that their supremely delicious beans are a Slow Food Ark of Taste product.
I kept hearing about this beautiful movie, “Grown in Detroit,” and the amazing and inspiring school that lies at the heart of the film. Tonight I got to see the movie, as part of a conference-run movie night complete with Applegate Farms hotdogs (delish), popcorn and root beer. I left the theatre with a DVD clutched in my grasp, to show to all of my friends and colleagues, and anyone else who wants to borrow it. Catherine Ferguson Academy, run by Asenath Andrews, the principal we all wish we had, is a public school in Detroit for pregnant teens and their babies. The school has a farm ( a “big garden with animals” says Andrews), one that teaches lessons in life cycles, business, biology and hard work; that provides revenue for the school and its students; and that brings fresh, delicious food into a community that finds these foods in short supply. Food is the palette here for myriad learning opportunities—including, as one girl mentioned at the talk-back after the showing, that by taking care of these farm animals she learned about taking care of her own daughter. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Ms. Andrews, the beautiful and thoughtful girls both in the movie and on the panel tonight, and about this movie, which you can see by going to this web site and paying what you can (how cool is that?), or by organizing a screening in your community.
Posted on Fri, May 14, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Jenna Schweitzer
This article first appeared on Generation Response, one of Emory University’s campus publications.
In her office, Julie Shaffer has a life-size cardboard cut-out of a farmer, a Georgia map that shows which Georgia farms provide what produce to Emory, and wooden cooking utensils on her desk. Her colorful office is filled with all sorts of stuff; it not only reflects Julie’s colorful personality, but her array of responsibilities as well.
Since August 2008, Julie has been the Sustainable Food Service Education Coordinator at Emory. Before that, she worked at a public high school for 30 years teaching AP art in drawing, painting, and design. So how did she get from teaching art to teaching about sustainable food? “I’ve always had an interest in food and cooking and growing food,” Julie explains, “I’ve always liked to eat.” However, it was more than her love of food; it was her love of Slow Food.
Slow Food, which has grown into a worldwide network of volunteers, began in Italy in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonalds near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slow Food Emory’s Rachel Levine explains, “Slow Food is stopping to think about the broader picture of the food we eat with an appreciation for what we put into our bodies and our surrounding community. Simply put, Slow Food is ‘good, clean, and fair food,’”
Julie first heard about Slow Food while vacationing in Italy in 1999. When she returned home, she called the newly established U.S. chapter to find out about getting involved. When the phone call ended, she had agreed to start a Slow Food chapter in Atlanta. She did, and now Julie is the volunteer regional governor of Southeast Slow Food. “Julie has been a major contributor to the Slow Food movement in Atlanta and the entire southeast. She knows just about everyone there is to know when it comes to food in Atlanta,” explains Green Bean President Emily Cumbie-Drake.
Posted on Fri, May 07, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Gida Snyder, head of the SFOC chapter at Kapiolani Community College
Mana `Ai means “power food” in Hawaiian and is both the business name and the philosophy of a family run company on the island of Oahu specializing in hand-pounded taro or pa`i`ai, (essentially poi before water is added to thin it out.)
Daniel Anthony, Mana `Ai’s founder, believes the nourishment of pa`i`ai is two-fold; the nutritional health benefit of eating pa`i`ai and the empowerment fostered by keeping a community in touch with the ancient food-making traditions of ku`i kalo (pounding taro.) Recently the Slow Food on Campus chapter at Kapiolani Community College had the hands on opportunity to experience the process of making pa`i`ai.
Under Daniel’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable direction, we learned that each step in the taro pounding process is of equal importance. Even before cooking the taro we were shown how to properly pick the leaves from the ti plant, prepare our equipment and stay as clean as possible to avoid transferring bacteria to the pa`i`ai. We then helped cook the taro by steaming it in a pressure cooker lined with ti and banana leaves. We learned the techniques for cleaning the taro, preparing it to be pounded using mortars made of lava rock on smooth carved koa wood boards.
As day became evening, the community center began to fill up with local families there to make their own pa`i`ai and poi for the week. The atmosphere was warm and lively with kids running around while the adults talked story and pounded. Our group shared the pounding of 15lbs of taro, learning quickly that it is NOT as easy as it appears. It takes a strong arm, a steady rhythm and an understanding of the soon sticky mass of pounded taro to make it a uniform and smooth texture. The experience left many of us with a desire to learn more about the many uses of pa`i`ai and to become more proficient at pounding it. We were invited back to the weekly gathering and will be attending a ku`i kalo as a chapter again soon.
Posted on Wed, May 05, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Imagine AmeriCorps service members building and tending school gardens and developing Farm to School programs for public schools around the country.
That’s the vision for FoodCorps, a new project in a year-long planning phase; I’m proud to say Slow Food USA is a part of it!
Our next open conference call to discuss the planning process is tomorrow. Catch up on the latest news about the program’s development and find out how you can get involved. The topic of this week’s call is an overview of the structure of the FoodCorps planning process and information on ways you can become involved.
This Thursday May 6, 5pm Eastern
Call (605) 475-4333
Enter code 571334#
For More Information:
Also, follow us on twitter: @foodcorps
Posted on Fri, April 30, 2010 by Slow Food USA
by Yonatan Landau
Think of the last time you saw something that pissed you off enough to do something amazing about it. Maybe it was a long grocery line or a bumper sticker for the Tea Party, or maybe it takes a humanitarian crisis like Haiti to really get your adrenaline going.
For me, it was orange chicken.
A year ago, I found out that UC Berkeley’s first national fast food chain, a Panda Express, was slated to open its doors adjacent to the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Like Slow Food in reaction to a McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome, we rose to the occasion.
We dredged up some surprising details (all Panda’s menu items except steamed rice are over 50% fat; even their steamed veggies are cooked in meat) and drew hundreds of students to protest. We also gave the administration something they could say yes to: we raised over $100,000 for a student-run café and sustainability hub. The administration eventually rejected the chain, and the Berkeley Student Food Collective was born.
Now, this summer, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed) will train student leaders on campuses around Northern California to create local, organic, community-run cafes on their campuses. Imagine students hosting fermentation workshops and panels of local food movement leaders in the same space that they and their friends buy an affordable, organic salad and fair trade coffee for lunch (check out the lovely Sprouts Cafe in Vancouver or the raucous Maryland Food Collective).
A best-practices business plan for a financially sustainable platform for campus food movement organizing - a community-run cafe.
A support network of food system stakeholders and activists dedicated to a just and sustainable food system. CoFed is has formed alliances with these organizations: Slow Food on Campus, Slow Money, Real Food Challenge, FeelGood, Food Coop 500, California Students for Sustainability Coalition, The Food Alliance, United Farm Workers, Veritable Vegetable, The California Center for Cooperative Development, Hazon, Thanksgiving Coffee.
An intensive, peer-based training: June 15-20th, CoFed will host an intensive boot camp in Northern California, bringing together students from all around the West Coast. Participants will be mentored by local farmers and chefs, create a plan for their campus food co-op, and build their project teams.
Posted on Thu, April 22, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
As I drove from the Columbus OH airport towards Athens, I passed a billboard that read “Every day is Earth Day for a farmer.” A dairy barn on my left, fields on my right. I was headed into the home of the pawpaw, a locavore hub, where community gardening is thriving, and food producers are local celebrities.
I was there to be part of Earth Month festivities at Ohio University, having been invited by their sustainability coordinator, Sonia Marcus. I realized that a few years ago, food would not have been part of the conversation on Earth Day, and it’s a marker of how far we’ve all come that we recognize that food—the production and transportation of which have a massive impact on our ecosystem—is an essential part of any sustainability conversation. Ohio University was amongst the first to have a position called “sustainability coordinator” and they are doing a great job of all kinds of things, including robust programming and education, as well as composting all the food waste on campus.
It was a super fun day during which I visited an Environmental Journalism class, participated in a round table lunch discussion, chatted with a News Writing class, and gave a talk focused on Building Online Communities in the food movement (subtitle: “how does twitter help grow food?”). We talked slow food, GMOs, potlucks, Jamie Oliver, blogging….and on and on. One student asked me what my professors taught me about blogging and I had to explain that when I was in college there was no such thing as a blog. Nothing like undergrads to make you feel old!
I really enjoyed talking with the students, and having the opportunity to reflect upon my writing, and how it ended up being the foundation for allowing me to “become”/call myself a writer. In thinking about these things, and in being asked to answer smart questions, I came up with answers that surprised me sometimes.
Professor Hans Meyer covered my talk here. My main takeaway: every time I see a photo of myself giving a talk, that is what I am doing with my hands. Also, n.b. that his students were assigned to live tweet my talk, and I really enjoyed reading their commentary once the talk was done. You can read the comments here. If the link doesn’t work, do a search on twitter for #oj314.
I talked about the ability of social media to bring people together into online communities, all in the service of eventually getting people to have face to face interactions. In the end I addressed the conundrum of slow food and the fast pace of social media—aren’t they a contradiction? In many ways, yes. And I do think that the lightning speed of things like twitter run counter to some tenets of the slow food movement. However, it is also a tool that be used to bring larger numbers and further connectivity to the people in the food movement, and therefore larger strength to the movement itself. For me, it’s about balance, knowing when to step away from the keyboard, and put the iphone down and sit down at the table, face to face with my community.
Posted on Thu, April 15, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Debra Eschmeyer
When President Obama established a “Presidential task force on childhood obesity” in February, Grist’s Tom Laskawy wondered whether our nation’s first federal food policy council had quietly sprung into being. In a food policy council, the key stakeholders of a region’s food system come together to assess the current food situation and envision ways it might be improved. Food policy councils are a growing phenomenon at the state and municipal level, but such a thing had never existed before at the national level. Does it now?
Well, last week I had the honor of attending the new task force’s White House Childhood Obesity Summit, and it certainly had the flavors of a food policy council: an array of food-policy players across agencies gathered to discuss a key symptom of a food system gone off the rails: childhood obesity.
The task force was charged with developing and submitting to the President in 90 days an interagency plan that “details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan.” As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, the task force is engaging both public and private sectors with the primary goal of helping children become more active and eat healthier within a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.
Feeding our children better may look at first glance like a softball issue for the first lady; but the Ms. Obama is actually in the opening stages of what looks like a long and complicated fight. but as Time put it:
“If this sounds like a political fight, well, it is. Michelle Obama may be tilling nonpartisan ground with her vegetable garden and child-obesity program, but food has long been political. From soda taxes to corn subsidies, food is about health care costs, environmentalism, education, agriculture and class.”
[to read the rest of this post, go to Grist, by clicking here.
Debra Eschmeyer is an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food & Society Fellow and the communications and outreach director of the National Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. While she continues her passion for organic farming on her fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, she currently plows with her pencil from Washington, DC. ]
Posted on Fri, April 02, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Marion Rockwood, Slow Food Oberlin Leader
On Monday, March 22, Slow Food Oberlin hosted a campus-wide event called Cheese 101, featuring a local farmer: Abbe Turner. Turner, a Slow Food Terra Madre delegate in 2008, is also the milkmaid at Lucky Penny Farm and the cheese maker at Lucky Penny Creamery in Portage County, Ohio. She came to campus to talk about her family farm goat dairy, women in agriculture, and how to make and enjoy cheese.
Lucky Penny Farm is an opportunity for Turners family to live out its ideals of tradition, simplicity, and sustainability in cooperation with the land and animals. She emphasized how important the farm has been to her and offered to advise any audience members who wanted to get started in agriculture.
Cheese making is becoming increasingly popular in todays do-it-yourself kitchen and Turner sought to elucidate the process. She explained the cheese-making experience in detail and left a lot of audience members excited to try it in their own kitchens.
Turner generously brought samples of her chevre, feta, and award-winning sweet Cajeta caramel sauce, along with artisan offerings from other Ohio producers. Audience members received a plate and Turner moved with them through each cheese, providing some background and encouraging them to choose their own words to describe the tastes they experienced.
The event brought community members together with college students and fueled the ongoing conversation about sustainable food systems. Next year, Slow Food Oberlin hopes to replicate the successful event with a hands-on cheese-making workshop with Turner.
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.