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    Heading into Food Day—a national campaign for everyday people to take back control of their food, health, and environment—this coming Mon. (Oct. 24), we can’t help but think that more than ever before, there is potential for legislative impact.

    Heading into Food Day—a national campaign for everyday people to take back control of their food, health, and environment—this coming Mon. (Oct. 24), we can’t help but think that more than ever before, there is potential for legislative impact.  Coming off the heels of our $5 Challenge and this past weekend’s World Food Day—and with Congress’ Super Committee poised to greatly influence the 2012 Farm Bill by deciding where to cut funds for food and agriculture programs by their Nov. 23rd deadline—this is a big moment for the food movement.

    For the first time since the 2008 Farm Bill, we have a clear pathway to government. Better yet, we have an opportunity to write a new chapter in America’s story of food and farming—where everyday people rally together to challenge Congress to do the right thing: to make food that’s good for consumers, good for producers, and good for the environment accessible and affordable for everyone, every day.


    At the core of Food Day’s mission is a desire to fix America’s broken food system.  As an official partner, Slow Food USA could not be more supportive of the day’s participants and their demands, which include:

    • Reducing diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
    • Supporting sustainable farms & limiting subsidies to big agribusiness
    • Expanding access to food & alleviating hunger
    • Protecting the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
    • Promoting heath by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
    • Supporting fair conditions for food and farm workers

    It’s going to take each of us rolling up our sleeves to balance the currently unjust and unsustainable food system. The good news is that there are lots of us and lots of ways to keep the pressure on Congress. On Food Day, can send a message to Congress by signing on to the Eat Real agenda or by taking the $5 Challenge or by doing both! You can exercise your right to free speech and talk about the right to good food online or to the media. Many food activists across the country have even joined up with their local Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movements to protest injustices in the food system..  The tactics you choose are entirely up to you; the greater meaning is to believe that when everyday people take action together, we can make a difference with what ends up on each of our plates.


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    Congress is planning dramatic cuts to the American budget and anything and everything is on the chopping block. The agricultural sector is likely to take a big hit but will the special Congressional “super committee” make positive change or keep pandering to Big Ag?

    Behind closed doors, lobbyists for food system giants are pressing lawmakers to continue the status quo or make cuts elsewhere. Whose belts do they think should be tightened?

    • NUTRITION: nutrition programs that provide critical access to food in this time of economic crisis. These programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called “food stamps”), the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and affordable school lunch. When nearly 50 million people in the U.S. live in constant threat of hunger, cutting the budget for these programs is an outrage.
    • JOB CREATION: programs that support family farms, create jobs, and keep money in rural communities. In a recent letter to the co-chairs of the “super committee,” House Agricultural Committee Chair, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D, ME) wrote “While efforts to reduce the federal deficit remain paramount, we must place an equal if not greater emphasis on policy changes that will put Americans to work and boost economic growth. Local food systems can yield significant benefits to the economy and create thousands of jobs. According to a recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a modest amount of funding or 100-500 farmers markets could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.”
    • SUPPORT FOR FARMERS AND FARMLAND: a hodgepodge of programs to address environmental quality and to provide essential support to vegetable farmers, beginning farmers, and socially-disadvantaged farmers. One of the most puzzling parts of the Food and Farm bill is that the majority of the foods that we eat (things like vegetables, fruits, and beef) are referred to as “specialty crops.” Cutting the already meager portion of Food and Farm Bill funding that goes to producers that make real food- not corn for ethanol and animal feed- is egregious. As the average age of US farmers steadily reaches retirement age (the majority of farmers today are in their 60s) it’s critical to the future of our food and agricultural economy that we continue to support the next generation of farmers, especially those from diverse communities. Related to that is ensuring that developed farmland continues to be used to grow food instead of being developed and thus saying goodbye to the investments that generations of farmers have made to the soil and surrounding terrain. And yet programs for supporting new farmers and farmland conservation are instead treated like an ATM for subsidies for Big Ag. Under a Senate Ag committee proposal, these programs could lose up to $4 billion. That’s nearly 20% of their current budget.
    • FOOD SAFETY: FDA funding which goes towards (already underfunded) farm inspectors who we need more of to keep us safe from outbreaks of food-borne illness. Unless the “super committee” comes up with a better plan, FDA funding could be reduced by nearly $200 million from the 2011 level. This would lead to fewer FDA staff, including those who inspect our domestic and imported foods. Large food facilities are already sorely under-inspected- just look to recent deadly food-borne illnesses in eggs, cantaloupe, and spinach.

    That’s no way to balance a budget: that’s a recipe for disaster.

    Click here to tell the super committee to follow our recipe for change.


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    Two developments this week indicate that massive congressional budget cuts might not spell disaster for nutrition programs and support for small farmers after all.

    In this time of national financial crisis, agricultural funding has been flagged to take a big hit. Two big developments this week indicate that congress is waking up to the potential that regionally focused agriculture holds for job creation, improvements to public health, and economic development.

    The first came earlier this week—on Food Day—when Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced a bill that she plans to introduce to the House: The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. The bill will provide new kinds of support to farmers growing healthy food; make it easier to use food stamps at farmers markets; and require USDA research to focus less narrowly on genetically modified plants. A companion bill is on its way to the Senate.

    Tell your Congressmen to be a part of the Recipe for Change by supporting the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act.


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    Even beyond the shared connection of good, clean, and fair food values, there’s a whole crop of reasons for why people in the food movement should be paying attention to and learning from OWS. Here’s our top 3.

    Grassroots.  Hungry for change.  Growing a new vision every day.  We’re talking about the hundreds of gardens, farmers markets, and community potlucks that Slow Food members have helped to seed over the past 10 years—and we’re talking about Occupy Wall Street.  Even beyond the shared connection of good, clean, and fair food values, there’s a whole crop of reasons for why people in the food movement should be paying attention to and learning from OWS—a people’s movement against Big Banks. Big Corporations. And yes, Big Ag—or what we call industrial agribusiness.  Here are our top 3 reasons (so far):

  • 1. Changing food and farming is political. Oh no they didn’t! Oh yes, we did. Changing food and farming is political (not to be confused with partisan)—and by that we mean it has to do with issues of power and inequality.  It raises questions about who controls our infrastructure and who has limited choices because of it, who defines the dominant culture (fast food vs. slow food, diverse or not?), who stays well-nourished and who is hungry or suffering from a diet-related disease. We support local farmers, build school gardens, start farmers markets, and organize community potlucks not only because it’s immensely gratifying to reconnect to the earth, to our cultures, and to each other but also because it’s necessary.  In fact, it’s political.  The reality is that industrial agribusiness and government policies have more control over what farmers grow and what we eat than we do! Basta ya! Over the past decade, we’ve started to take back the power one meal, one non-GMO crop, one Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at a time.  But we’re fighting a continuous uphill battle—and it isn’t right. This is our moment to level the field, to change the food system from our plates to our policies.
  • 2. Food is part of a larger movement for social transformation.  The food movement has often been criticized for being elitist, inaccessible, and entirely too foodie—and in many cases, that’s real.  What’s also real is that, for many of us, our desire to transform food and farming is rooted in values of community, sustainability and fairness—especially for the farmers and workers who make good food possible and for the communities whose health, culture, and access to good food have been threatened by industrial agribusiness.  These values—for how we relate to each other, to our environment, and to our cultures—aren’t limited to the dining table, the kitchen, the food factory, or the farm.  They extend into a vision for a better world.  Food is just the starting point—a lens through which we can start to look at other societal issues.  Yes, we care about food—but that doesn’t mean we have to lose sight of all the other things that matter: unemployment, unfair tax policies, or race, class, and gender inequality.  It’s all connected.  In the words of the late Tupac, “Let’s change the way we live. Let’s change the way we eat.  Let’s change the way we treat each other.”

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    Slow Food Denver supports their local farmers and makes it fun!

    by Slow Food USA intern Meghan Offtermatt. Photos by Ric Ettinger (tacoplenty@mac.com)

    Bright Spot Image - Nov 3What can a “Crop Mob” do for you? Actually, a lot! What is a crop mob? A crop mob is a group of individuals who gather to work on small, sustainable farms to help with everyday tasks assigned by the farmers! With the help of a group of supportive organizations, Laurie Schneyer of Slow Food Denver was able to create a series of Crop Mobs in the Denver area to assist sustainable farmers.

    The project got started when Laurie came across Crop Mobbing in Urban Farm Magazine; Laurie perused the Crop Mob website, learning about the model. She took it, made a few adjustments, and used the system to help small farmers in the Denver area. She began networking; creating a coalition of concerned citizens with the goal of creating Crop Mobs of their own. Although the Crob Mob website suggests that any group only undertake one mob a month, Laurie decided to up the ante and in the first couple of months she had already organized 4 events, 2 of which occurred on the same day.

    These events included successful Crop Mobs at Ekar Farm, the mobile farmers market known as The Gypsy Farm Bus, and the Urban Farm at Stapleton. Trees were planted at the Urban Farm courtesy of donations from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and the volunteers included students from the local schools. Other successful Crop Mobs were held at one of Grow Local Colorado’s park gardens, and the vegetable gardens at the Governor’s Mansion. Each event had a turnout of 10+ volunteers, and the larger events had 20-40 people to help mulch, plant, turn soil, and weed. The volunteers are almost never repeats, as the group gives people the opportunity to help out without a long-term commitment.

    Laurie and Slow Food continue to gather forces in Denver, with the hopes that each month there will be more Crop Mobs and greater turnout. With the sponsorship and help of local organizations such as Slow Food Denver, Grow Local Colorado, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and Greater Denver Urban Homesteaders, the Crop Mobs continue to grow and sustainable farms continue to flourish.

    Have questions about starting your own Crop Mob or getting involved with Denver Crop Mob? Email denvercropmob@gmail.com and find out more!


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    Slow Food UW, the Slow Food on Campus chapter that inspired our $5 Challenge is up for a Real Food Award!  Today’s the last day to vote—so let’s rock that while we can for our friends at UW.

    Slow Food UW Madison has been tearing up the good food scene ever since the chapter opened in 2007.  With several successful projects in operation, they continue to redefine student power in the campus food movement.  When they’re not getting mad love and recognition with a Real Food Award nomination, they’re keeping busy with:

      Family Dinner Night: cooking and serving up $5 good, clean, and fair meals to over 100 people weekly and inspiring our $5 Challenge—in which over 30,000 people across the country took up our call to cook and share Slow Food for less than the cost of fast food
      Café: preparing fresh food using ingredients from farmers in South Central Wisconsin to serve the most delicious, affordable, sustainable food at UW
      Celebrate South Madison: connecting students with local farmers, restaurants, and businesses in South Madison and teaching community youth how to cook

    It’s no wonder that Slow Food UW is up for an award that’s meant to shine a spotlight on the people who represent the best of college food.  By pairing Slow Food values with some sharp entrepreneurship, they’re able to offer their campus and community real food that’s both affordable and simply off the hook.  It’s a radical recipe for change that’s introducing a young generation of eaters to a new vision for our food system and keeps them coming back for more!  If you’re down with making good food with good values at good prices, don’t forget to vote for Slow Food UW for a Real Food Award!

     


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    Check out our Thanksgiving guide for recipes, tips, tricks, and more.

    This Thanksgiving we’re giving thanks to each and every person who works to make for a good, clean, and fair food available to everyone. Whether you’re packing your daughter’s lunch every day, managing a school garden, holding an endangered foods potluck, or reading Fast Food Nation together with friends, we’re moved and inspired by the surge of interest this movement has seen in the past year and the extraordinary work being done around the country and around the world.

    We wanted to give something back, so we thought about what kinds of things people ask us for most and the number one thing is information about how to “go slow.” Cooking with fresh, local, seasonal, and heirloom foods is exciting and delicious, but it can be hard to know where to start. “What’s so special about heritage turkeys?” “Where can I buy them?” “I like the idea of using heirloom foods but I don’t know how to cook with them.” “Can I have a Slow Food meal that doesn’t cost a fortune?”

    Our Thanksgiving 2011 Guide is here to help. It’s meant to help you:

    • Try new recipes using local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. There’s something for everyone – whether you’re planning a traditional turkey dinner or looking for vegetarian alternatives.
    • Find ingredients near you and locate farmers markets, heritage turkey breeders, and Ark of Taste foods near your home.  *Act fast if you want a heritage turkey: farms are selling out!
    • Get tips, tricks, and Slow Food USA recommendations to make prepping less stressful and cooking more fun and nutritious.
    • Learn about First Nation-led projects to hold onto traditional foods and practices.

    We hope this is helpful, and if you have questions or suggestions email thanksgiving [at] slowfoodusa.org

    Thanks again, and we wish you and your loved ones a holiday full of cheer and good eats.


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    An inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues.

    by Slow Food USA intern Becca Chelton

    At this time of year we are right in the middle of the harvest, and we will soon have a long winter to get through. However, it’s never too soon to start looking forward to the spring, especially if you have a new school garden to plan. One Slow Food NYC member has a new school garden project in the works that will bring a much needed school farm to Brownsville, Brooklyn. It’s an inspiring example of what Slow Food members are doing all over the country, and a great way to protect yourself from the winter blues. The project is being spearheaded by Nora Painten, who spent this summer running a very successful summer garden program for the local children. Seeing the overwhelming support of the community inspired Nora to start a new farm in a vacant lot near Public School 323.

    “I was working in Brownsville this past summer, and every day I would bike past a lot of vacant lost, but this one stood out because it was big and sunny, so I looked it up and it turns out that it was owned by the city. I wasn’t totally sure that I would be this supported and encouraged, but since I have, it’s been moving really fast and snowballing. There is a public school about half a block away, which I had never noticed, but once I found the space and started looking into the school, it was just the perfect marriage of ideas.”

    Nora’s plans include a new water system (as there is currently no water running to the property), growing beds, and fencing. These three basic elements will allow them to start sowing seeds, planting flowers, fruit trees and perennials, and installing a chicken coop.

    If everything goes according to plan, classes will start in May 2012. Teachers of all subjects can teach aspects of their curriculum in the garden. A core group of older students will become garden stewards, who help tend it over the summer and distribute fresh food throughout the community. This project is just one example of how an individual member can make a huge difference to a community in need. Nora spoke to us about how she got inspired.

    “The most important part of the project is to bring food education and fresh produce into a neighborhood where there is very little of that. Diabetes and other health problems can be avoided by a decent food education. I think it’s important to consider all neighborhoods in NYC when thinking about greening cities and gardens. Often it’s done in places where people can afford to spend time thinking about these things. It’s about getting to all kids early and turning them into life long healthy eaters. If they become healthy eaters as kids, that turns into demand and buying power at the farmers market and for local food products.”

    Nora hopes to have the necessary funds raised by November 27th so that she can start clearing out the lot over the winter and making plans for construction in the spring. Donors are invited to get involved in the garden on it’s completion. See the garden’s donation page for more details on what the garden will look like, and how you can help. So far they have reached 60% of their goal. If you have questions or would like to get involved, you can contact Nora at npainten@gmail.com.


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  • 11/18/11--08:00: Shop, Cook and EAT GOOD FOOD
  • Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a complex food system with a new cookbook, Eat Good Food.

    by Slow Food USA intern Kate Northway

    As our food system becomes more complex and consumers are taking an interest in the politics of production, supermarket aisles become more perplexing to navigate. Thankfully, Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a new cookbook, Eat Good Food. Alongside delicious meal ideas, Sam provides a commentary on how to shop for the highest quality foods. From produce to meat to breads and beer, Sam covers every part of a meal.

    With the book in tow, I headed to my local market to see how the Bi-Rite book could help me craft a meal for a few friends. Throughout the book, Mogannam and Gough push the reader to become an active shopper, asking grocery store staff questions about where each product originates. The authors stress the importance of becoming a more conscious shopper as a way to become a better chef in the kitchen. After scanning the book, I had picked out three recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caper Lemon Butter, the Pescado Veracruzana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Glaze. All three recipes used simple ingredients easy to find at most stores.

    Brussels sprouts have never been at the top of my list of favorite vegetables, so I wanted to see if Mogannam and Gough could turn me into a sprout fan. Using their advice, I looked for sprouts that were smaller, as they would produce a sweeter and more tender dish, and roasted the sprouts to obtain the most flavor.

    While my local market has a bounty of produce, high quality cheeses and unique canned goods, the fish selection is sparse, selling mostly salmon and tuna. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t find the rockfish called for in the Pescado Veracruzano recipe. Instead, I decided to put the rest of the ingredients on top of farfalle, allowing me to use the authors’ tips for serving up some delicious pasta.

    I already had most of the ingredients for the chocolate cake, but was missing the star of the show: chocolate. The sweet aisle in the store had plenty of organic, artisan bittersweet chocolate, but all were not in my price range. Sam and Dabney note that most grocery stores have large, random-weight pieces in the deli section that they weigh and price themselves and are almost always a better value than the bars or chips in the baking aisle. Plus, the large blocks of chocolate have a longer shelf life.


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    “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”—but who said anything about using our tax dollars to support the foods that make us sick?

    The last time we sent off our W-9s and cast our ballots, we don’t remember consenting to Congress aiding and abetting an industrial agriculture system that pollutes our land, pumps our food with harmful chemicals, and puts family farmers out of business.  And we certainly didn’t consent to them botching the budget or undermining the American Dream.  Yet, Congress continues to legislate the 1 percent’s policies without listening to the people.  One might wonder if they still believe in the democratic process? Did they forget their dismal 9% approval rating? And are they completely ignoring the hundreds of “We are the 99 percent” protests across the country? Seems like Congress needs to be checked—big time.

    Recognizing that these are pretty strong words, here’s a short list of why we think it’s important to tell it like it is, sans the subsidized sugar-coating:

      1. It’s NOT OK for Congress to hand our tax dollars over to wealthy commercial farmers, who have an average income of $200,000 and an average net worth of just under $2 million. Between 1995 and 2010, Congress dished out $167,331,000,000 in farm subsidies, with most of them going to industrial agribusiness instead of to the sustainable and family farmers who need our support.
      2. It’s NOT OK for Congress to ignore the American people.  Just this month—against the demands of over 50 farmer, fisher, and rancher organizations—Congress passed three new free trade agreements that yet again undermine American farmers and workers.
      3. It’s NOT OK for Congress to turn the blind eye to rising rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases.  With 41 percent of the House and 66 percent of the Senate banking at least $1 million in 2009, it’s no surprise that Congress has historically voted on the side of the fat cats—including the industrial agriculture companies that promote an unhealthy and unsustainable America with the aid of their trustyposse of lobbyists.

      4. It’s NOT OK for Congress to butcher the budget (again)! The deadline for the Super Committee to make its deficit-slashing recommendations is coming up quick and it’s looking like business as usual—unless we give them our recipe for change!


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  • 11/29/11--13:03: Turkey Day
  • A carnivore confronts the morality of meat by getting his hands bloody.

    by Slow Food USA intern Lloyd Ellman

    Disclaimer: Please be aware that the following graphically describes the slaughter of a live animal.

    “I kind of hold their heads in my hand as the bleed out.”
    “Why?”
    “I don’t know. I guess to comfort them.”

    One of the farmers confessed this as I stood, drenched in the unforgettable perfume of singed feathers and coppery death, contemplating the bittersweetness of a most American ritual. In all, I held nearly 50 heads over the course of that day.

    Slaughter day.

    Today, it’s become easy to ignore the fact that an animal was killed to provide me with meat. Just consider the store-bought-sterile prepackaged chicken cutlets found in most supermarkets that resemble a chicken about as much as I do. This emotional disconnect, sometimes termed carnism, prevents real compassion for farmed animals and is something, I suspect, introspective eaters struggle with frequently. I decided to tackle the problem head-on in an ongoing quest to settle my conscious and discover some truths about how meat can be good, clean, and fair.

    Each year the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a Hudson Valley farm close to my heart, raises two flocks of turkeys for Thanksgiving. One breed is the commercially common Broad Breasted White, a creature that embodies the perils of Frankensteinian hybridization (its legs are too short to allow it to breed naturally), but it remains tasty and, more importantly, buxom.

    The second flock comprises the gamey and wild Bourbon Red, a majestic heritage breed that fell out of favor in the 1930s and has experienced a revival in popularity, spurred by the deep flavor of its well-used musculature. These would be our quarry.

    How do you slaughter a turkey? It was the first question that I asked and, depending on the answer, it is one that can speak volumes. There are any number of horrible stories and videos of mega-farms abusing helpless, suffering animals. These are unforgivable transgressions, but provide a useful contrast to my experience.

    The real work of the slaughter, I discovered, is done by hand, with a blade no bigger than a paring knife and the assistance of a stainless steel cone that holds the turkey securely. Following the well-practiced example of my tutor I cupped the back of the bird’s neck and pinched between the spine and the trachea, creating a depression of pocked skin soft enough to slide the knife through without damaging the animal’s air supply. It takes two cuts, one on either side of the neck, to sever the two carotid arteries and release a disconcertingly warm stream of red.

    After a few minutes the turkey, looking more and more like meat at each step, was scalded, plucked, and sent off to be disemboweled, cleaned, and finally packaged for sale.


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    Food policy was front in center in November, we recap where we were and where we’re going with the Food and Farm bill.

    Now that November has come to an end, it’s hard to forget the ruckus Congress stirred up in the food and farming world—some of it good and some of it bad. Organizations and lawmakers from all ends of the spectrum made sure to voice opinions about how the government should be involved in food and farming. From introducing legislation to help local food economies, to attempting to cut food stamps as part of the Super Committee process, November saw a lot of folks weighing on the future of our food system. Many of you weighed in too, by endorsing our Recipe for Change.

    November began with the release of Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown’s Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. Two days later, the National Sustainable Agriculture Committee (NSAC) hosted a farmer fly-in, bringing over 50 farmers, advocates, and scientists from across the country to Washington DC to show support for the bill.

    Alex Loud, a fly-in participant and Slow Food Boston chapter leader, describes why the Act is an important step for rebuilding the economy:

    Small farms are a growing and increasingly important part of the American economy and the American food system.  The Federal government is not doing enough to support them—and indeed in some cases is even hindering their growth.  The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act will, if enacted, start to change this.

    The legislation addresses issues from across the board – including rural development, reforms to nutrition assistance programs that will allow food purchase at farmers markets, and boosts to programs that support farmers struggling to obtain a USDA certified organic status.

    What more could we ask for than the introduction of a bill like the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act? How about 13,000 supporters of Slow Food USA’s Recipe for Change! Introduced at the end of October on Food Day, the Recipe for Change continued to accumulate signatures in the two weeks leading up to November 17th when names were hand delivered by us to each of the Super Committee member’s DC offices.

    In the end, the Super Committee failed to come up with a deficit reduction plan by their November 23rd deadline.  This does not mean, however, that your voices were not heard or that the message of the Recipe for Change will not be important for the next big obstacle to come – the 2012 Food and Farm Bill.

    November may be over but the fight for better food and farming policy is just beginning. Follow the developing Food and Farm Bill campaigns of these organizations to stay in touch with what is going on and learn how you can get involved:

    NSAC
    Environmental Working Group
    Food Democracy Now
    Bread for the World
    Oxfam
    Food and Water Watch
    Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy


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  • 12/13/11--03:07: 44 Gardens in 44 Days
  • How a Slow Food chapter set out to do the near impossible -- plant 44 gardens in 44 days -- and exceeded it!

    Written by Slow Food USA intern Meghan Offtermatt


    Slow Food Miami

    A garden planting hosted by Slow Food Miami.


    What’s more important than teaching kids the importance of good, clean, and fair food? Teaching kids how to plant, grow, and harvest it! Slow Food Miami embraced the need to help students learn the benefits of gardening and growing their own food with their recent initiative to plant 44 school gardens in 44 days.

    The process of applying for a Slow Food Miami edible garden begins when schools and organizations apply for garden grants between January and April of each year. Then, the Slow Food Miami board of directors meets with school’s directors and administrators who will be in charge of overseeing the garden. Finally, the board assesses location, enthusiasm, and the vision of the potential garden before purchasing the first round of supplies. Before the planting process begins, Slow Food Miami has a teacher education training, where they provide the teachers with a shopping list and gift card. On the day of the initial planting, teachers, students, and Slow Food Miami volunteers come together to bring the garden to fruition.

    Although the program is an ongoing effort, Slow Food Miami launched a special initiative this past year to help meet the increase in grant applications. The initiative, called 44 Gardens in 44 Days, set out to plant as many gardens as possible in a limited number of days, the minimum number being 44 gardens. With the help of Ready-To-Grow Gardens, led by organic garden designer Dylan Terry, and a crew of volunteers and community members, Slow Food Miami exceeded the goal by 30%, planting 63 gardens in the course of 44 days. Since September of this year, Slow Food Miami has installed 76 school garden beds and 15 community garden beds for a total of 91 gardens in Miami-Dade County. In addition to this, 25 school beds were put in since 2007 that have moved on and “graduated” out of the Slow Food Miami program.

    Once has a garden has been installed, Slow Food Miami helps provide troubleshooting, tips, and guidance for the teachers and students throughout the growing season and harvest. In addition to this, the Director of Gardens and Director of Education conduct educational outreach with the participating schools. After the garden has been in place for a year, Slow Food Miami supplies the garden with a second round of seeds for the next growing season.

    Over time, Slow Food Miami has learned that it’s crucial that the garden space have sufficient access to sunlight and water. In addition to this, it is important to have support from parents, teachers, and the administrators of the school, as well as support from the school maintenance crew, as they often play a large role in maintaining the health of the gardens during breaks.

    Although the process can sometimes be challenging, and even unpredictable, the payoff from planting these gardens is well worth the effort. Many schools have gone so far as to create their own farmers markets from their gardens. Schools have replaced bake sales with smoothie sales, implementing fresh fruits and vegetables. Herbs from the gardens have been used to create soaps and infused oils. Schools have increased their number of beds from one or two to six or seven beds, and the knowledge and awareness of food has increased tremendously. Students are now learning to appreciate the value of good, clean, and fair food, and with the help of Slow Food Miami, this program isn’t slowing down any time soon!


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    Our friends at FarmPlate.com give us the scoop on how technology is changing the world of small scale farmers so that small scale farms can change the world.

    By Jeff Gangemi – Director of Partnerships and Communications at FarmPlate.com

    In farming, it seems that size is often rewarded. Government subsidies, economies of scale, and the use of chemical pesticides all conspire to make life easier for large-scale industrial farming operations.

    But there are a number of advantages to being small. Chief among them may be the ability to connect with individual customers and achieve a level of transparency impossible (or at least undesirable) for larger, factory type farming operations.

    “I think a lot of people are finding out – not just farmers, but also fish providers and other producers – that transparency in and of itself is a great marketing tool,” says Barry Estabrook, James Beard award-winning food journalist and author of Tomatoland. “That means encouraging your customers to visit your farm, to talk about how you produce food if you serve a market or CSA.” For its part, the government is at least aware of a growing desire among consumers to learn about where their food comes from. In 2009, the USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) to help strengthen local and regional food systems by helping consumers “connect with their food and the people who grow and raise it.”

    A growing number of organizations also hold real-world events designed to make connections between consumers and farmers. For example, the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s New York (NOFA-NY) chapter is hosting six Community Supported Agriculture Fairs across the state, where CSA farms, bakeries or groups set up a booth and meet and talk with consumers, who can choose which businesses they want to buy from and sign up for a CSA share.

    But what about where face-to-face interactions are impossible, or cost-prohibitive? That’s where a new crop of technology companies offering time- and cost-effective platforms for small producers to showcase their operations, processes and products comes in.

    “I believe transparency is perhaps the major economic advantage small producers have over large corporations. Their food chain is short, and easily made transparent and available to consumers via the web and apps,” says Beth Hoffman, managing editor of Food + Tech Connect, an influential blog that has been exploring how greater transparency in food industry data would not only improve food safety, but also enable discovery of healthier restaurants and recipes.

    “Instead of having to purchase expensive tracking systems and creating data tools to manage the huge amount of information generated by complicated food supply chains,small producers (especially ones that sell directly and locally) can make their information
    available by telling the story of their food in places like Real Time Farms, FarmPlate, Local Dirt or on their private websites,” says Hoffman.


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    2011: a Slow Food USA year in review by Josh Viertel.

    by Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA

    2011 started with a very important question.

    In January, we asked President Obama what he was doing to make it easier to feed our kids fruit than Froot Loops.  He said Walmart would fix it.  You didn’t buy it, and neither did we.  So together, we went about fixing it ourselves.

    When industrial agribusiness tried to make it a felony to take pictures of farms (so they couldn’t be held accountable for animal abuse) we said, “A good farm has nothing to hide.”  And we buried legislators in four states, not just with petition signatures, but with pictures of the incredible sustainable farms that make us proud.  The Slow Food “Farmarazzi” saved the day—and the bills died in all four states.

    When Fast Food said that it had value for everybody and Slow Food was just for the elite, we proved them wrong.  On one day, at more than 5,500 shared meals all over the country, 30,000 of you sat at the table together and took the $5 Challenge, cooking Slow Food for less than fast food.  People shared their tips, tricks, recipes, and what made it a challenge.  Together, we are taking back the value meal.

    And when a handful of congressional leaders tried to sneak past a “secret farm bill” cooked up for the corn and soy lobby, we brought Congress a Recipe for Change, written and signed by over 13,000.  No “secret farm bill” was going to slip through on our watch.

    We couldn’t have done any of it without your support. And in 2012 we’ve got even more work to do.

    2012 is going to be about building change from the bottom up: community by community; farmers market by farmers market; garden by garden.  Slow Food’s chapters are building grassroots solutions to a broken food system.

    Already, Slow Food chapters have built over 300 school gardens.  They reach over 33,000 kids.  And they make it happen as volunteers.  One inspiring example is Slow Food Miami, where chapter volunteers planted an astounding 63 school gardens in 44 days. 

    If we can support 650 more leaders like these to make this kind of change in their own communities, we can build more gardens in schools than McDonald’s has franchises!

    But, really, we can’t do any of this without the support of the Slow Food community.  We’re all in this together.

    Will you help us make it happen?


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    What made you most proud to be a part of the Slow Food movement in 2011? We list some of our favorite responses.

    by Slow Food USA intern, Alaena Robbins

    Recently many of you rang in the New Year reflecting along with SFUSA staff members about what had made you most proud to be a part of the Slow Food movement in 2011. As varied as your responses were, they shared a common thread of pride in past accomplishments and hope for what’s to come.  Here is a look at what some of you had to say:

    “The nourishment of ‘Slow Food’ goes beyond nutrition… it’s quality of life, livelihood, community, family.” – Martha Clark Krikava

    “I am proud to be a young person who knows that slow food is WAY better than fast food and that eating more of it is better for all people, planet, and animals” – Birke Baehr

    “I am most proud of the work that our leaders do to ensure that kids can grow up with a connection to real food” – Josh, SFUSA President

    “I am happy that more and more people are working to have food be good, clean and fair in many different and important ways” – Doug Hiza

    “I’m really proud to belong to an organization that is part of a global movement” – Sung E, SFUSA staff member

    For most, the month of January symbolizes a new beginning, a fresh start, a time for change, but the New Year can also mean taking lessons from our history and using them to help us make a better tomorrow.

    “I am filled with Pride…for my ancestors would be proud and my descendants will be thankful” – Barry Jarvis

    What will 2012 bring for the Slow Food Movement? Will more schools do away with processed unhealthy foods?  Will you make a personal commitment to supporting local farmers and good, clean, and fair food? Will government or people have more of an impact on the food system?

    What do you hope to see in 2012?


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    To celebrate FoodCorps’ first year, we give you a glimpse of what it might be like to be a service member through the eyes of current member, Robyn Wardell.

    FoodCorps is a national non-profit—for which Slow Food USA is a founding partner—that addresses our nation’s painful and costly childhood obesity epidemic using a three recipe ingredient for change: hands-on nutrition education, growing and tending school gardens, and getting healthy local food onto school cafeteria trays. FoodCorps’ first year of service is winding down, but recruitment for next year’s class of service members begins this week. To celebrate FoodCorps’ first year, we give you a glimpse of what it might be like to be a service member through the eyes of current member, Robyn Wardell.

    If reading Robyn’s story piques your interest, you can read more on the FoodCorps website: http://www.foodcorps.org, or watch their recruitment video (produced by Ian Cheney, co-creator of King Corn!) below:

    The deadline for applications is March 25th.

    A Day in the Life of a FoodCorps Service Member
    by Robyn Wardell, serving at the Crim Fitness Foundation in Flint, MI

    7:30 Wake up to my first alarm. Hit snooze.

    7:35 Hit snooze again.

    7:40 Hit snooze again…

    8:00 Actually get out of bed

    8:30 Head to the Crim Office to check e-mails and plan lessons.

    10:00 Speak with farmer in Davison about supplying sweet corn and carrots to Flint school cafeterias.

    10:30 Head over to Freeman to check up on the status of the newly-built hoophouse and hope the door won’t be stolen and or completely broken this time.

    11:00 Teach lesson to Mr. Brown’s 6th grade class about food systems and how that relates to their school lunches. Plan a video project where students will interview one another about their feelings on their school meals to learn about how to form unbiased questions, edit video, and articulate what they’d like to get out of the food they eat.

    12:00 Eat my own lunch and think about the systems that brought it to me.

    12:30 Head to Eisenhower Elementary to plant spinach and lettuce with Ms. Walsh’s and Ms. Barker’s 2nd graders in the greenhouse. Try and get them to refrain from throwing snowballs at the building on their way to and from the greenhouse.

    3:30 Head back to the Crim to pick up supplies for Scott Elementary after school program.

    5:00 Meet up with 15 1st-3rd graders at Scott and convince them that kale is the best thing ever and that kale chips are even more delicious than potato chips. Make kale chips. Revel in the fact that they love them.

    6:00 Head on home.


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    Slow Food USA’s president says he is not turning his back on the organization’s roots, but is instead trying to better understand its identity.

    by Slow Food USA President, Josh Viertel

    When my fiancée, Juliana, and I were farming, we grew the most beautiful produce I have ever seen. I do not mean to brag. It is sort of like being a parent, or a pet owner. Anyone who has grown food with love probably feels that way about the product of his or her labor. We grew 300 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, many heirloom varieties, and ingredients for cooking food from so many traditions. We sold them at a farmers’ market in a well-heeled neighborhood, and we charged a lot of money. We did not think twice about charging $16 per pound for salad greens. We knew what work went into it, we knew how good it was, and we knew it was worth it. We sold out. And we made $12,000 a year between the two of us. We thought we were doing pretty well.

    When low-income people came to our stand with food stamps, we gave them two or three for the price of one. But something was broken. At $12,000, we had low incomes ourselves, and the only people we could feed had high incomes. I wanted to change the world, and I saw farming as a piece of that work. Fairness for the farmer seemed to mean injustice for the eater. Fairness for the eater seemed to mean injustice for the farmer. How could we simply choose to fight for one, with the knowledge that it undercut the other?

    A few years later, I found myself standing in a room filled with about 300 extraordinary people—people working to take on the same paradox that had troubled me as a young farmer. Slow Food USA was putting on an enormous event in San Francisco in the fall of 2008 called Slow Food Nation. It brought the most inspiring artisan pickle makers, charcuterie curers, and bread bakers together with the most committed food activists and farmers. Alice Waters, Carlo Petrini, Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Van Jones, Vandana Shiva, Lucas Benitez, and many, many other heroes of mine were all in the same place, at the same time, to talk about food, farming, and the movement to transform both. Monsanto and Ronald McDonald would have done well to blow up the building.


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  • 01/26/12--05:15: What’s in your food?
  • My favorite veggie burgers have a “no genetically modified ingredients” label, where is this label on the rest of my food? Tell the FDA to ‘Just Label It’

    by Slow Food USA Associate Director of National Programs, Angelines M. Alba Lamb

    This weekend I sent my partner to the grocery store for the weekly shop. He ventured out in the snow, and in exchange I put the apples in their bowl and the cornbread box in the pantry. As I was putting my favorite box of veggie burgers into the freezer, I noticed a label I’d never paid attention to: “No genetically modified ingredients.”  Did all my food have this label? I took the cornbread back out, and read all 6 sides. I learned that if I ate one piece, I would ingest 3 grams of protein. I learned my favorite corn bread used corn flour, corn, and baking soda. But I didn’t learn where the corn came from. Was it genetically engineered, like 80% of all corn grown in the U.S.?

    Why didn’t my cornbread have the same label as my veggie burger? Because companies don’t have to disclose genetically modified ingredients.  Some do but most corporations don’t. They didn’t disclose any ingredients until later in the 20th century. Cigarettes didn’t get warning labels until 1966, years after evidence was found of their ill health effects.  Ingredient boxes and health warnings appeared after people, just like you and I, demanded that their government do everything in their power to protect consumers. Protecting consumers means informing consumers.  If you pick up a cigarette, knowing that it can cause cancer, then that is your right. If you choose to eat genetically engineered corn despite the label, then that is your choice. But we don’t have a choice with genetically engineered food.

    Just Label It – a national initiative to secure labeling for genetically engineered food- is demanding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require all food that is genetically engineered, or made with genetically modified ingredients, be marked like my veggie burgers.  They need you and I to add our voices and send a message to the FDA consumers want this labeling. Add your voice  by sending a comment to the FDA letting them know how important this issue is to you.

    Right now the soymilk smoothie you are sipping on could have been made with genetically modified soy.  The alfalfa sprouts topping your salad could have been engineered in a lab. And you have a right to know and a right to choose if you want to put that into your body or feed it to your family.  We don’t know yet how genetically engineered food interacts with human bodies. There isn’t enough research.  But don’t you want the chance to make that decision for yourself? I sent a comment to the FDA because I want all of my food, including my corn bread, to have the same label like my veggie burgers.  Join Just Label It and me and send your own comment.


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  • 02/05/12--21:30: The Guardians of Ozette
  • Originally from South America, the Makah Ozette Potato has been a staple of Pacific Coast Native Americans for over 200 years and his now being preserved through a partnership with Slow Food Seattle.

    Written by Gerry Warren, Slow Food USA Regional Governor for Washington & Alaska and the coordinator of the Makah Ozette Potato Presidium

    Bright SpotIn the 1980s an unknown fingerling potato was recognized as a staple in the diet of Pacific Coast Native Americans of the Makah Nation. The Makah occupy the region around Neah Bay, Washington, the most northwesterly point in the lower 48 states. According to tribal lore, the potato had been used by these people for about 200 years. The Makah had named it Ozette after one of their five villages located around Neah Bay. All potatoes originated in South America and it was thought that all potatoes now in the Americas were first taken to Europe by Spaniards before they came to North America. However, in 2004, phylogenetic analysis conducted at Washington State University provided evidence that this potato (Solanum Tu- berosum Group Tuberosum) had certainly been imported directly from South America. How did this happen?

    After their conquests in South America, the Spanish began a mission to further establish their empire on the western shores of North America. In the spring of 1791, they established a fort at Neah Bay and, as was the custom, planted a garden that surely included potatoes they had brought directly from South America via Mexico. During the winter of 1791, the Spanish found the weather conditions in the harbor too severe to maintain their ships and they abandoned the fort. The Makah people, who were in need of a carbohydrate source, likely found volunteers of this rather weedy plant left in the garden of the abandoned fort. They quickly adopted the potato and became its stewards, growing it in their backyard gardens. Not until the late 1980s, nearly 200 years later, was the potato grown outside the Makah Nation. The Makah named the potato Ozette and we have named it Makah Ozette to honor their 200 years of stewardship. The firm flesh and creamy texture of this thin-skinned fingerling potato and its unique nutty, earthy flavor are appreciated by home cooks as well as chefs.

    The Presidium was established by Slow Food Seattle in partnership with the Makah Nation, Full Circle FarmPure Potato (a laboratory and farm which develops and produces potato seed), the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Prosser, WA, and the Seattle chapter of Chefs Collaborative.


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