Ready for another Slow Food Chicago board member alumni profile? Thought so. Today, we're highlighting our chat with Jeanne Calabrese. She gets right to the heart of the matter - talking about when she first heard about the movement in Italy, her involvement in Chicago with educational programming and how she still lives and breathes "good, clean, and fair". Read all about it!
Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?
I first learned about the movement in 2007 when I attended a lecture given by Carlo Petrini in Chicago in 2007. He was on a book tour promoting his book "Good, Clean and Fair." I was delighted to learn there was an existing group (Slow Food) that subscribed to the lifestyle and principles I felt passionate about. I began attending the Chicago chapter's gatherings, volunteering for their events, and getting to know the Chicago members. Shortly after this, I was asked to serve on the board.
What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?
My main focus on the board was developing educational programming. We did this through a series of lectures, events and workshops including cooking, food preservation and tree grafting. These programs were and continue to be successful. By empowering people with this knowledge we promote food security and ensure these skills are not lost.
What are you up to these days?
I've been working on an urban micro-orchard in my yard. It allows me to experiment with organic growing techniques and hone my grafting and propagating skills. I grow Liberty and Sweet 16 apples, paw paws, Korean Giant, Shin Li and Naju Asian pears, a variety of currants, berries and small tree fruits along with seasonal vegetables and herbs.
Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!
The basic principles behind the Slow Food philosophy is engrained in my own personal philosophy. I support local food growers and I grow myself. I have perfected a few food preservation techniques and I am always learning more. My larder is stocked and it's so nice to crack open a jar of summer tomatoes in the middle of winter or a jar of fermented fall fruits and vegetables to extend the seasons.
Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?
My talking points have always been simple:
good = our food should taste good
clean = we should grow in a way that does not harm the environment
fair = we should pay the people who grow/produce/cook food for us a fair wage
What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?
Start by examining your own approach to eating. Get to know the folks who grow and produce your food. Ask where and how it was grown. Support local farmers and eat in season. Get to know your local chapter and check out an event or two.
Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?
I sit on the Midwest Ark of Taste committee and I believe it's some of the most important work Slow Food is doing today. The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste is a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.
Keep up with Jeanne on instagram (@barefeats) to see how she lives Good, Clean and Fair.