Slow Food Chicago Member July Discount Partner Profile : The Chopping Block

Slow Food Chicago Members have just a couple more days to wait before they can take advantage of the July Year of Slow Food member promotion for discounted pricing on any July or August cooking classes (booked in the month of July) at The Chopping Block. We had the pleasure of chatting with their Marketing Manager Andrea Miller to discuss how their classes help patrons get comfortable and gain confidence cooking for themselves at home. This, in turn, lends a little love to our Slow Food grassroots movement of promoting and advocating for food that is good for you, cleanly produced, and fair to all those involved in it's production. Here's Andrea!

What was the idea behind The Chopping Block? How did you start?

The Chopping Block opened at the original location in 1997 as an antique cookware shop and cooking school in a small cottage in Lincoln Park. Shortly after opening, Owner and Chef Shelley Young found that many of her customers needed assistance in selecting pots and pans and other kitchen equipment. The retail portion of the store began to grow as Young and her team of instructors started choosing the best equipment and ingredients for home cooks and carrying those items in the store. A mentoring style of relationship flourished between The Chopping Block and its students, who quickly saw the storehouse of knowledge available in the staff. The partnership worked, and in 2003, The Chopping Block opened its second location in Lincoln Square. The Lincoln Park location was moved to an 8,000 square foot space in the Merchandise Mart in Summer 2005, which greatly expanded the offerings of the school, including the ability to offer customized private cooking events for groups as large as 300 people.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

We are always preparing for our next cooking class or private event. As one of the busiest recreational cooking schools in the country hosting an average of 300 classes and events each month, there's always something going on in our seven kitchens at our two Chicago locations.

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part about working at The Chopping Block is being part of a team whose mission is to get the country to cook. We do that not only by offering cooking classes and private events, but by building a community around cooking through our website, social media outlets and instructional videos. Our staff sets up apart from other schools because they truly care about cooking. Shelley has a motto she lives by everyday. Her goal is to create a company environment that her employees' view as "the best job they have ever had."

The sluggish economy presents an interesting situation for The Chopping Block. While Americans are still tightening their belt on eating out, they are cooking more at home. So, while people may be hesitant to spend the money on a cooking class, they greatly value the skills learned at the class. We provide a service that helps people make better decisions about food.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food systems to overcome?

Getting quality food and education on how to prepare it for more people in need.

How does The Chopping Block's work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

It's no secret that eating at home is less expensive, healthier and brings families and friends together at the table. It's focusing on those relationships that are created over food that we try to lead by example. We are constantly evolving to fit our customers' needs. With all of the different classes and events we do each month, it can be a challenge to engage each person that walks through our doors. But our staff excels at this! Whether a customer is attending one of our intensive Culinary Boot Camps or out for a fun date night, our goal is to listen to what they hope to get out of their experience and meet those expectations.

What surprising food item or cooking method do you think will trend in 2016?

Vegetables are stealing the show this year, and we've seen that by the popularity of our Clean Eating classes as well as the number of people who downloaded our free Clean Eating: Getting Started Guide.

What's your favorite food related social media account to follow?

It's so hard to choose just one! We love Food52, The Kitchn, Tasting Table and many more.

Anything else you'd like to share?

We also carry food-friendly wines and craft spirits at both locations, and we recently opened a bar at the Merchandise Mart. Stop by for Happy Hour on Tuesdays 4pm-6pm and enjoy select glasses of wines for $7!


Want to learn more and keep up with The Chopping Block crew? Follow along via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest 

Slow Food Chicago Member May Discount Partner Profile : Angelic Organics

For Slow Food Chicago members, you have just a few days left to take advantage of May's Year of Slow Food member discount on programming from Angelic Organics. Read on below to get some insight into how Angelic Organics got started, and how they are fighting for good, clean and fair food for all.

The following profile is as answered by Angelic Organics' Associate Executive Director, Deb Crockett.

What was the idea behind Angelic Organics Learning Center? How did you start?

In the fall of 1998, the core group of shareholders in Angelic Organics Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm met for a week to dream about how to best respond to people wanting to learn from and about Angelic Organics. Farmer John Peterson wanted to support educational efforts on the farm, but needed to focus his own energy on growing vegetables. So, the core group decided to start a non-profit dedicated to food & farm education; founders Tom Spaulding and Neddy Astudillo packed their bags and moved to Caledonia from Chicago to launch the Learning Center as a non-profit the following spring.  

Since then, we’ve stayed true to our mission to build sustainable local food and farm systems through programs that change the way people farm and eat, so that the food and farm economy is healthy, green, fair and culturally-expressed. We offer various food + farm workshops, school field trips, summer day camps, and customized group programs on Angelic Organics farm. We facilitate urban farming programs in Rockford and Chicago (Englewood) that increase access to good food, growing opportunities, and entrepreneurial skills. We support the next generation of sustainable farmers through our yearlong Stateline Farm Beginnings training course, the Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer training alliance, and various farm financing programs. 

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

My days are so varied! This next week, I’ll teach a class for preschoolers and their parents, meet with community partners, evaluate our work, cook breakfast for our staff, do hive checks for our three hives, and address whatever other issues and ideas come forward from our talented and dedicated staff team. As much as the weather permits, I take my computer and meetings to the porch of our whole tree architecture building, with good views of goats, chickens, cattle and more! By the way, the pigs just went out to pasture today and are having a fantastic and comical romp in the field.  

What’s the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part is when people make a connection through a Learning Center program--with a farm, with their food, with another person, or with their own personal calling. You see this in hundreds of small transformations that lead to a larger impact: from a boost in a child’s self confidence after milking a goat, to a farmer who is able to finally leave their day job to pursue their dream.  The hardest part is that there is never enough time to do everything.  

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago’s food systems to overcome?

Quite simply we need more farmers connected directly with more people who want good food.  And, by “want good food” I mean people who understand the value of healthy, local, connected food and are willing and able to pay enough for their food that farmers can make a living wage while growing our very sustenance.  

How does Angelic Organics Learning Center’s work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

The Learning Center considers "good food” as food coming from a sustainable local food and farm economy that satisfies a “Quadruple Bottom Line”, which we define as Economy, Equity, Ecology and Expression.  Another way of talking about it is that good food is healthy (meets the needs of our bodies and communities), green (meets Earth’s needs), fair (protects the rights of all workers and eaters and gives farmers a living wage), and culturally expressed (protects freedom of expression and culture).  

Our tagline is “Learn Grow Connect,” and this resonates throughout all of our programs and work.  We provide opportunities for eaters to learn skills to grow, get and prepare good food at three locations in Rockford, Chicago, and Caledonia.  Through our farmer training programs, we support beginning farmers in overcoming obstacles to farm viability, for instance, helping them to write a realistic business plan, to manage saving for a farm implement, or to connect with a mentor.  We always work in partnerships to more effectively share best practices, build community, and change culture, laws, or circumstances to favor the local food system.  We believe that people from all sectors of our food system need voice and opportunity in getting access to good food.  

What surprising homesteading hobby do you think will trend in 2016?

Using backyard plants for medicinal purposes: elderberry cough syrup, plantain poultices, and a variety of teas and tinctures from many plants.  

Favorite food related social media account to follow?

I asked my colleagues for help on this one, and their suggestions ranged widely: try The Sporkful (https://twitter.com/thesporkful), EatLocalGrown, Punk Domestics, Civil Eats, Food + Tech Connect,; Chicago Farm Report; Natural Awakenings

Is there anything else you’d like us to share about your business?

Come join us for an upcoming workshop or event!  Visit www.learngrowconnect.org/ to sign up for a skills workshop or event on Angelic Organics farm, or create your own experience through a customized program. We also encourage people to attend our Peak Harvest Farm Dinner on July 28 at Galleria Marchetti in Chicago. We will be honoring Rick Bayless & Deann Groen Bayless of Frontera Farmer Foundation. Guests will enjoy cuisine & cocktails made from locally sourced ingredients, live music, adorable farm animals, and special guests including emcee Monica Eng! Tickets & info can be found at www.learngrowconnect.org/farmdinner. We also offer numerous volunteering or job opportunities at www.learngrowconnect.org/jobs.  


Hungry for more? Catch up with Angelic Organics via the link below. And get in on the member deal here. Not a Slow Food member? Sign up here.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube 

 

Tomato Seedling Sale - This Saturday!

Looking for something to do this weekend? We've got you covered. Slow Food Chicago's annual heirloom tomato seedling sale will return on Saturday, May 14th. A few of Slow Food Chicago's Board Members will be hanging out in Bang!Bang!'s (Logan Square location) pie garden starting at 9am with an abundance of heirloom varieties of seedlings available for purchase. Need some extra incentive to get your backyard gardens or patio growing spaces up and running? A purchase of 3 or more seedlings will get you a free made-from-scratch biscuit from the good folks at Bang!Bang! Sounds like your weekend is shaping up quite nicely...!

 

 Join us this Saturday, May 14th, 2016 for our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale at Bang!Bang! Pie Shop.

Join us this Saturday, May 14th, 2016 for our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale at Bang!Bang! Pie Shop.

When : Saturday, May 14th, 2016 / 9am - 4pm (or until we sell out!)

Where : Bang Bang Pie Shop - Logan Square / 2051 N. California Ave (map)

What : Slow Food Chicago's Annual Heirloom Seedling Sale will feature dozens of different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, grown by master gardener and Slow Food Member, Judy Casten. A full listing of available varieties can be found here.

Cost : Seedlings will be available for purchase at an estimated price range of between $4-6 (depending on variety and size). Remember, if you purchase 3 or more seedlings, Bang Bang will give you a FREE BISCUIT! All proceeds to this sale support Slow Food Chicago.

May Day - The Historic Holiday of Fighting for "Fair"

The following is a guest blog post written by Alexandria Boutros of the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

The first May Day "celebration" occurred on May 1st in 1886. Across the United States, over 300,000 workers across roughly 13,000 businesses walked off their jobs. In Chicago alone, at least 40,000 workers went on strike. Thus were the beginnings of the labor movement, continuing to this day (over a dozen decades later) to tenaciously fight for workers' rights.


Those of us who work in the food system, as farmers, farm workers, food service workers, or in supermarkets need to unite for good jobs, dignity, and justice from farm to plate. Slow Food's slogan is "good, clean, fair", and May Day especially is time where we highlight the "fair" part of Slow Food's Mission. May Day is meant to create an environment of anyone working in the food system to feel welcomed and appreciated. 

The Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) also believes in the right of all communities to live, create and work with dignity, respect and equitable access to resources. From farms to restaurants, workers in the food industry are the lowest-paid sector of our economy.

One way FCWA is working to end the exploitation of workers is with the Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP).  GFPP’s purpose is to increase access to high-quality healthy food in communities and shift production practices especially when it comes to workers, by leveraging the purchasing power of major institutions. This national campaign is happening in several cities around the nation and is at varying stages. 

The potential in Cincinnati for instance, is very exciting since it can serve as a blueprint for other cities: A unionized worker-owned cooperative can plant, harvest, produce and supply the food to the city and its institutions. This food will be nutritious and grown organically and sustainably and with all of the standards represented by GFPP. In Chicago, the mayor has appointed a task-force to implement the policy, while the Chicago Park District has committed to run a pilot for this summer's feeding program. In San Francisco, a vote on May 10th can make the school district there the second to implement the groundbreaking policy, after LA. Meanwhile, momentum is building in other cities like NY, Oakland, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Slow Food chapters are key partners nationally and in many ways represent the food system we're trying to create!

To learn more about FCWA or to get involved visit them online via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Voices of the Food Chain (Video)

Slow Food Book Club Reads Silent Spring

Hope you can join us this Thursday night for a thoughtful conversation at the April edition of Slow Food Book Club. We will be discussing Rachel Carson's game changing book, Silent Spring. First published as excerpts in the New Yorker in 1962, Caron's now historic text became known for it's influential activism that spurred revolutionary changes to environmental law. Today, we are still having many of the conversations posed by Carson in this text - primarily, how do we undo the damage that has already been done by our overuse of pesticides and insecticides while still ensuring that our planet is a safe and flourishing place to live for generations to come? Continue the conversation with us as we discuss this life-altering book at Pilsen's own plant and garden shop - Verdant Matter. We know this one can be tough to get through. Don't think you'll finish in time for Thursday night? Don't sweat it. You can still come chat with us amongst the plants! Attendees are encouraged to bring not only your fine self but also a snack and/or drink to share. 

 Join Slow Food Chicago for a discussion of Rachel Carson's  Silent Spring  this Thursday evening at Pilsen plant and pottery shop Verdant Matter.

Join Slow Food Chicago for a discussion of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring this Thursday evening at Pilsen plant and pottery shop Verdant Matter.

WHAT : Slow Food Book Club : Silent Spring

WHEN : Thursday, April 28th, 2016 // 7pm-8pm

WHERE : Verdant Matter / 1152 W. 18th Street (map)

COST : Free to attend! Bring your own snack/drink to share.

 

Opening Volunteer Day at the preSERVE Garden Recap

This past Saturday was the first preSERVE garden volunteer day of the season. In addition to prepping the beds, we got some seed potatoes into the ground. After a couple hours of getting some dirt under our nails and feeling the sun on our backs, we enjoyed a community meal. Thank you to everyone that came out, contributed their time (and sweat), and brought food to share. We are so excited for all that's to come this season. And if this weekend was any indication - it's going to be a good season.

Mark your calendars. The next volunteer date is May 21st (10am-12pm). Can't make the weekend work? This season, we're adding Thursday evening volunteer days. Join us on Thursday, June 23rd (5pm-7pm). Have questions? Want to RSVP? Reach out to Stefanie at slowfoodpreserve@gmail.com.

Slow Food Chicago Member Discount Partner Profile : The Spice House

Being a member of Slow Food Chicago does not come without it's benefits. Thanks to Year of Slow Food - your membership becomes something more tangible that just a donation to a cause you believe in. Throughout the year, each month members receive new offers and discounts from local businesses, restaurants, farms, and purveyors emulating the Slow Food objectives for a good, clean and fair food system. This month's (April) member partner is The Spice House - run by second generation spice merchants, dedicated to grinding their carefully curated selection of imported spices in small batches which are then mixed by hand, often using family recipes to create some of their popular blends. Let's just say, if you plan on slowing down and cooking a meal from scratch anytime soon - these are the tools you'll want in your back pocket - high quality, thoughtfully sourced spices and blends from the pro's who have been at this since 1957. Read on for a peek into a day in the life of a spice merchant and get a sense for their dedication to an "old-fashioned" process - regardless of how "slow" it may be.

What was the idea behind The Spice House? How did you start?

We are second generation spice merchants, my parents began our store in 1957. Their goal, which follows through to today, was to supply our customers with spices of the highest caliber from the top sources of origin from around the world. Once imported, we grind the spices fresh in house. Once finished we hand craft our seasonings based on our old family recipes. 

What would you be doing right now on a typical work day?

Today we are grinding the most fragrant black pepper from the Tellicherry coast of India. Once ground, this will become one of the fresh ingredients in our bestselling blend, Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper, Butchers’ Rub.  We will take care of many customers, enjoying our talk about cooking.  I will also answer dozens of emails from other customers who are not so lucky to be shopping in store, where they can taste everything, but are instead shopping online. 

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

Being a spice merchant is absolutely the best part of the job. We love to experiment with flavors and create new blends. It was all pure and beautiful when we just had brick and mortar shops where we talked to our customers about cooking all day long. Then the internet came along, and that scenario changed. The hardest part is all the things we are forced to do that have nothing to do with being spice merchants. We recently installed a new POS system which has given us months of headaches because the gateways don’t all interface with one another. Balancing the budget, accounting reports, human resources, PR, SEO, social media and all the other jobs that are required to stay afloat in today’s world of e-commerce are a necessary part of our work day. 

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food system to overcome?

Food desserts still desperately need attention and further action on early initiatives. People everywhere need to have access to affordable, healthy food choices. The upscale neighborhood of Old Town, where one of our shops is located, has at least a dozen good grocery stores within a mile. Large areas like Bronzeville or Englewood have almost none. Kudos to Whole Foods for putting in a store in Englewood this year.  

How does The Spice House's work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

We source the highest quality spices and herbs from around the world. Once imported, we take care to grind everything in house, in small batches of what we are anticipating selling in the next week or two. Once ground, the spices get mixed into seasonings by hand, again in small batches to ensure the ultimate in freshness. And the following week, we start all over again. Whenever possible, we try to support new initiatives by co-operatives in third world countries, who are trying to teach farmers a way to augment their income by introducing spice crops to their crop rotations. 

Here is a video of one of our blends, Chesapeake Bay Seasoning, being created. You can see how slow and old fashioned our blending process is!

 The Spice House's curry powder blend.

The Spice House's curry powder blend.

What surprising spice do you think will trend in 2016?

I think we are seeing a great deal of interest in lost or extinct crops.  Crops that went out of vogue for some reason, now have piqued our interest.  There are some really devoted people focused on this, like Glen Roberts of Anson Mills. With the help of scientist David Shields, and his in-depth knowledge of seed banks and culinary history, they are able to work toward returning some lost legacies from ancient times to today’s farmers and chefs. I believe you call this a re-emergent cuisine. One can extrapolate that this will translate into the spice world as well. Ancient herbs are returning to the culinary forefront. And while thyme, rosemary, mint, lavender, have always been culinary herbs, they have never been more popular. If this is a trend, heirloom spices and herbs should also be on our radar. Trending upward over the past few years and showing no sign of slowing down, is turmeric, which has some pretty powerful medicinal properties. 

What is your favorite food related social media account to follow (outside of Slow Food Chicago, of course)?

I really enjoy the work of the gang at Serious Eats.  A really great local food forum which lots of great foodie chat is LTH Forum.    

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your business?

We were thrilled to be named to Food and Wine’s best spice shops in THE WORLD!  


Hungry for more? Follow along with The Spice House team via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Blog / Twitter / Instagram / PinterestNewsletter Sign-Up

To receive the full 52-page Spice House catalog, email spices@thespicehouse.com.

Join us for a FIG Drinks Showcase

Thursday night. It's the prelude to the big show (welcoming in the weekend after the five o'clock bell rings on Friday). But this week, Thursday night gives Friday a run for its money. This Thursday, the good folks at FIG Catering bring you the [belated] launch of their beverage program, FIG Drinks. Not only will you get a peek at at the drinks program (from punch to sustainable wines), but you will get the chance to nosh on delicious food (also from FIG, score!), as well as witness a cocktail competition (or if you prefer, showdown) between the FIG beverage folks and our very own Slow Food Chicago board member, Kim Werst. Kim will be bringing her homemade rum punch with quince and pear syrup. (Hello, yum.) If all that is not convincing enough, there will also be live music as well as spun tunes and the proceeds from your ticket will benefit your faves - Slow Food Chicago! Vote with your hard-earned dollars and show some support for your local Slow Food chapter, along with some stellar local Chicago businesses, and do some good while you get your drink on. See you there!

What : FIG Drinks Showcase

Where : Salvage One // 1840 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60622 (map)

When : Thursday, March 24th, 2016 // 6pm-9pm

Cost : Your $10 donation can be purchased via Brown Paper Tickets. Proceeds to benefit Slow Food Chicago.

Slow Food Book Club : An Everlasting Meal

Spring is in the air and with it comes the very first Slow Food Book Club of the year! March's food focused read is Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal : Cooking with Economy and Grace. With an introduction written by Slow Food champion Alice Waters, this month's read seems like a no-brainer. Tamar's dreamy and delicious writing will have you daydreaming of the upcoming farmers market season along with the locally sourced meals you are soon to create. Resourcefulness is also one of Adler's strong suits - with plenty of tips for stretching your sustenance dollars and making the produce and protein alike that you purchase earn its keep. Didn't finish the book? Read the whole thing in one night? Never heard of it? Whatever category you fall into - if you love to talk about food almost as much as you like to eat it, join us at Local Foods this Thursday.

What : Slow Food Book Club

Where : Local Foods / 1427 W. Willow St, Chicago, IL 60642 (Map)

When : Thursday, March 10th, 2016 / 6:00pm

Details : Join us for the first book club of 2016! We will be discussing Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal : Cooking with Economy and Grace. Food and drink available to purchase at Local Foods / Stock Cafe. But we definitely won't turn you away if you bring a snack to share with the group.

Cost : Free! Just bring yourself and some foodie-fueled conversation.

Slow Food Discount Partner Profile : Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks

For members of Slow Food, you still have time to redeem your discounted order from February's partner - Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks as part of 2016's Year of Slow Food. Irv Cernauskas and Shelly Herman are on a mission to not only support local farms and farmers - but also to ensure that this fresh food is easily accessible to all. Read on to learn more about how they got started and why they keep fighting for good, clean and fair food for all.

What was the idea behind Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks? How did you start?

Our idea was to serve as a partner with local farms to increase the amount of local food reaching Chicago. Farmers often cited the challenges of marketing and distribution, and we thought if we could help on that, they could focus their knowledge and resources on increasing production. We started by visiting farms, and other similar businesses across the U.S. and Canada, then just diving in and "bootstrapping" our own savings and debt to build out our warehouse and website.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

Every day we check in with farmers we know to find out what crops they have available and would be most helpful to their operations to sell to us. We also check our customer orders and make sure we have enough food lined up to fill them. And we make sure our staff has everything they need to get the work done, and help resolve any issues that come up.

What’s the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part of our job is the great relationships we have with the families who produce the wonderful food we deliver, and helping our customers make delicious and healthy choices. When farmers tell us how much the support they get from Fresh Picks means to them, and customers tell us how improving their diet has made them feel better, and that their kids are so excited when our deliveries arrive, it makes our day! The hardest part is when things don't go as planned. Like last Saturday, after the wind storm, ComEd lost power to our refrigeration and we had to scramble to protect our food. That wasn't a fun morning.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago’s food systems to overcome?

We have to recruit more Chicago residents, to help them see, and taste, the value of local food, and make it easy and fun to vote with their dollars for something better. We have a lot of very loyal customers, but we are just scratching the surface of the potential we see. Big national companies with giant marketing budgets and slick technology challenge our local food system for the attention of consumers.
 

How does your work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

We are all about making it easy to act on those values.  It can be hard for folks to get to a farmers market or commit to a CSA membership, especially in the winter.  By offering convenience, choice and great customer service, we work to make it possible for more people to have good, clean and fair food a part of everyday life.  Even if they can't meet their farmer face-to-face every week, visitors to our web site can click through a product to see a page with pictures of the families who grow the food, where the farm is located, and descriptions of their practices.  That way they know where there food is coming from, and where their dollars are going, and can feel good about the choices they are making.

What do you think is in store for 2016’s trendiest food item- kale’s successor?

hmmm...my crystal ball says maybe aquafaba. Cauliflower and beef bone broth still seem to be going strong. We always sell out of the bones before any other beef cut!

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

The Central Valley of California, after generations of unsustainable water and soil depletion, and often unfair labor practices, is potentially facing the end of a long run as the green grocer of the nation.  But with abundant water and fertile soil, and a great tradition of family farming, Chicago and our region has a great historical role to reclaim as a center of food production and distribution.  

Is there anything else you’d like us to share about your business?

It is a challenging world out there!  We need all of your members help spreading the word so we can keep on fulfilling our mission.  We are approaching our ten year anniversary and will have an Open House on April 10 at our facility (just off the Edens and Touhy Ave), and we would love to have people come join us to celebrate, sample some delicious chef creations and mingle with farmers.     


Hungry for more? Follow the Fresh Pick's team via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Canning Series : Winter Edition Recap

On Saturday, Slow Food Chicago Board Member, Kim Werst led a canning workshop at Kendall College. Participants learned about pickling, preserving, and even took home blueberry preserves they made themselves. Couldn't make it? Relive it via the photos below. Or get to it in your own kitchen with some of our favorite recipes. And don't forget to reference our favs, Pomona's Pectin for extra tips and tricks of the trade. There's truly nothing better than a fruity preserve to remind you of summer in the midst of a midwestern winter. 

****Please note - the linked recipes incorrectly state the use of "2 tbsp" of Pomona's Pectin. This should be adjusted to 2 tsp (as per the Pectin package instructions).****

 

Slow Chicagoan Profile : Lee Greene of Scrumptious Pantry

 Team Beaver Dam Pepper! John (the grower), Larry (the grandson) and Lee (of Scrumptious Pantry).

Team Beaver Dam Pepper! John (the grower), Larry (the grandson) and Lee (of Scrumptious Pantry).

There's been a lot of discussion (due to all the buzzing surrounding the upcoming election) about voting lately. Much like voting for a candidate, each time you go to the grocery store or farmers market or co-op, you are quite literally voting with your dollars. From the products you buy, to the stores or farmers you support, even to how you got there - each choice can have a butterfly effect on how our food system operates, often without us even realizing it. We cast our food votes daily - at every meal. Scrumptious Pantry is a business that I feel resonates deeply with this process. Founder Lee Greene, produces condiments crafted not only with care but with carefully selected heirloom varieties of ingredients. By putting only the best into the process - she gets products that burst with authentic flavors. And while I'm sure doing things Lee's way may seem at times like an upstream battle, the end product proves that it is something worth fighting (and voting) for. Read on for more about Lee, how her business began, and addressing the struggle to find balance between good, clean and fair all at once.

What was the idea behind Scrumptious Pantry? How did you start?

Well, I did my MBA in Milan and was blown away by the fierceness with which my friends debated the difference between a tomato grown in one town and the one grown five miles down the road. I had no idea food could create such passionate debates! Nor did I previously understand that, yes, five miles do make a difference. That intrigued me, so after graduation I joined a small Tuscan biodynamic winery – Cosimo Maria Masini - as their Managing Director. You can find their wines in Chicago, by the way. There I really understood the concept of terroir (or sense of place) and what it means to have a truly sustainable agricultural production. We had started selling our wines to Chicago with the help of our awesome friends at Candid Wines, so I spent quite a bit of time here hustling the wines. Consumer interest in food and its origins was beginning to grow, so I figured why not take the concepts of terroir, regional varieties and culinary history and create a food brand based on these values. So in 2010 my cats and I arrived in Chicago. We launched the first products showcasing domestic heirloom varieties in March 2011 at the Good Food Festival.

 Scrumptious Pantry's beaver dam pepper product lineup.

Scrumptious Pantry's beaver dam pepper product lineup.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

There is no typical workday. I might be visiting a farm and discussing some new heirloom crops to grow, developing recipes, doing a photo shoot, making sales calls or checking on our numbers. Accounting is the least sexy thing, but the most important. You gotta know your numbers!

What’s the best part about your job? The hardest part?

I love any type of event where I can meet customers and feed them samples. It is invigorating to see their eyes widen in delight and the best compliment is to hear “That tastes like *insert food memory*”. Touching people with food is very powerful, and that is where the chance for change lies. 

The hardest part is surviving. Unfortunately most of the food businesses dedicated to sustainable food are far from being sustainable from an economic perspective. It takes a lot of money to build a brand, serve the retail customers, keep inventory on hand... Consumers might think “that is expensive” if they see a jam or sauce or what not on the shelves in a store at $5.99. But rest assured – no one is making a killing on that. You need various levels along the distribution chain to get the product to customers. Back to the $5.99 example - to break even as a business that sells their products with an MSRP of $5.99, you have to sell 1,000 units a day. 365 days a week. For products that are not consumed several times a day (like bread, meats, dairy, produce), it is almost impossible to only serve a local market. You need to have a much wider customer base. And that takes a lot of time and money to build.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago’s food systems to overcome?

We are very lucky here in Chicago, we have such a bounty surrounding us. The fruit, veggie and dairy farms are plentiful. The cheesemakers amazing. We even have local fish in the Great Lakes. And then there are all these talented food artisans and chefs creating beautiful interpretations of the ingredients. It is truly a celebration of the Midwest. 

But we still have ways to go to make these experiences accessible for more people. Right now we are stuck: there are a few niche customers that are willing to pay the premium that it takes to make better food, but they are not enough to really impact the cost of the food. After all, it is a market: more demand leads to more efficiencies and better tools and that leads to lower cost, at which point more consumers can access the market. There are a great number of people working on solutions: collaborative structures, food hubs… Those are crucial if we really want a good, clean and fair food system. 

 Scrumptious Pantry is a Chicago based company committed to showcasing heirloom ingredients.

Scrumptious Pantry is a Chicago based company committed to showcasing heirloom ingredients.

How does Scrumptious Pantry’s work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

Scrumptious Pantry is about the true flavor of food - that is why we are highlighting heirloom varieties in our products. If you have great tasting ingredients, you do not need any additives to make up for the lack of real flavor. Ingredient lists of processed food started to read like a science project, because there was no more flavor in the raw materials once we turned to mass-produced agriculture. If you adjust varieties for ease of cultivation, uniformity, shelf life… There is a round-up on how flavor was bred out of the tomato on our blog. It was not done intentionally, flavor was just not the priority anymore. (http://scrumptiouspantry.com/loosing-flavor-why-tomatoes-dont-taste-they-way-your-grandmother-remembers/)

So by going back to real flavorful ingredients, and celebrating those flavors, you’ve got good and clean. Growing food with flavor takes time and dedication, and is often more risky than relying on hybrid varieties. You got to be a fair partner to the farmers, if you want good product. Plus, I am on the lower end of the totem pole myself. I’d like to be fairly treated and be able to sell my product for a price that respects the work that went in to it. You cannot really ask for fair treatment of yourself and then disregard the fair treatment of your partners.

What do you think is in store for 2016’s trendiest food item- kale’s successor?

I wish we would stop running after food trends. They are distractions from actual food education. Or maybe we can make food education the next trend? 

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

I came to Chicago because it’s truly the heartland. As I mentioned before, there is such a bounty here for sourcing and of ideas. From a business perspective as a consumer good New York is the place to be though. That is where the opinion leaders and the influencers are that reach the nation far and near. As well as the money. It is almost incestuous, but boy, they are successful in creating launching pads for new brands.

What is your second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow? (Can’t be first, because of course, SFC is your first favorite.)

I love to follow what my fellow good food entrepreneurs and cheer them on. IF I had to choose one it would probably be Mike and Anne at Sauce & Bread Kitchen/Coop-Sauce/Crumb Bread. They tell so many great stories, and their pictures of their food makes me hop on my bike and pedal from Logan Square to Edgewater, so I can enjoy their creations to the fullest.


Want to follow along with Lee and keep informed about updates at her business? You can find more Scrumptious Pantry via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

Slow Food Chicago Cooks for #77Proud

This past Saturday, members of the Slow Food Chicago Board participated in the #77Proud Financial Resource Fair at the Bernhard Moos Elementary School - presented by the Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers and hosted by LUCHA Chicago. Board members Kim, Maia, Katie, Beth, and Molly all pitched in to provide a free meal for attendees by cooking soups made with mostly midwestern and thoughtfully sourced ingredients. Heidi also brought along a few Kendall College student volunteers to help us get set up. Here are a few memories and photos from the day. 

Feeling inspired and looking to make your own soup at home? Here are a few recipes from the day.

Slow Food Chicago Cooks for Soup & Bread

 Soup & Bread will be held at  The Hideout  on Weds 1/20/16 starting at 5:30pm.

Soup & Bread will be held at The Hideout on Weds 1/20/16 starting at 5:30pm.

Mark your calendars, folks. Next Wednesday (1/20), you have quite an opportunity. Not only will you have the chance to eat some delicious soup and bread (as the name should imply) - but you will also be able to support an amazing community meal project. If you aren't already familiar with Soup & Bread, it's a free weekly community meal hosted (for its eighth year) at The Hideout Chicago. Not only that, but this donation based meal meet up uses the give-what-you-can donations received each week to support local food pantries and hunger relief agencies (think Greater Chicago Food Depository and beyond). The Soup & Bread season officially kicked off for 2016 on January 6th. Next week, on the 20th, not only do you have another chance to participate in this unique and rewarding event - but the food (well, at least the soup) will be supplied by members of the Slow Food Chicago board. That's right, we're cooking for you. So come on out to the Hideout next Wednesday - fill up on soup, and bread, and maybe even grab a drink from the bar; all while knowing that you can feel good about where your meal came from, the love and labor that went into it, and revel in the difference your donation could make (no matter the size, it counts) at local pantries and agencies. And maybe, just maybe, you can learn a little bit more about what we do at Slow Food in the process (you know, aside from make amazing soups). Hope you can join us!

What: Soup & Bread // Soup to be provided by Slow Food Chicago. Bread donated by Publican Quality Meats. The bar will also be open with beverages available for purchase!

Where: The Hideout // 1354 W. Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (map

When: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 // 5:30pm-8:00pm

Cost: Free, with suggested donation. 

Slow Food Discount Partner Profile : Chef Chris Davies of Homestead on the Roof

Chris_Davies.jpg

The new year is just about upon us. And with another month, comes another local discount partner for Slow Food Chicago members. By becoming a Slow Food member, you are not only showing your support of a good, clean and fair food system - but you are also opening yourself up to being connected with a growing community of those who share your interest in food, the environment and local purveyors who also support this grassroots movement. One of the most tangible ways this sense of connection comes to light, is with the Slow Food Chicago chapter's Year of Slow Food. Recently launched on our website, Year of Slow Food rewards you with a year-round schedule of member discounts available for each of the upcoming 12 months in 2016.

This January, as we enter a new year, members will receive a discount off their total bill at West Town's very own farm to table restaurant, Homestead on the Roof. We had the pleasure of speaking with the restaurant's executive chef, Chris Davies. Read on to learn more about the operation of this rooftop garden restaurant - and to learn what Chef Davies thinks might be kale's successor for trendiest food item of the new year.

What was the idea behind Homestead on the Roof? How did you start?

The idea behind Homestead on the Roof was to bring a unique farm to table experience to the heart of Chicago. The concept is based around our 1,000 square foot garden on the roof and our close relationships with local farmers and artisans.

I started as a Chef de Cuisine in May of 2014. Upon our chefs departure, I slid into his position.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

It could really be anything from prepping for dinner service, menu planning, communicating with various farmers or it could be various office work.

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part about my job is definitely teaching and training the staff, watching them grow and surpassing even their own expectations. 

The hardest part of the job is the multitasking aspect of the job.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food systems to overcome?

I feel the biggest obstacle still relies in educating and empowering the citizens who might not have the resources to always obtain healthy and nutrient rich food.

How does Homestead on the Roof's work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

I have always been a big believer in purchasing locally and supporting local charitable endeavors and farms.

What do you think is in store for 2016's trendiest food item - kale's successor?

Seaweed or sunchokes.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

I moved here with my wife in 2009 (she is from the south suburbs). If I wasn't in Chicago, I would probably be living in a smaller city such as Portland (where I am from) or Louisville.

Second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow? (Can't be first, because of course, SFC is your first favorite.)

Chicago Food Game... it is run by a friend of mine, Corey Nunn.


Hungry for more? Catch up with Chef Davies and the Homestead on the Roof team via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter 

Want in on the discount action? Learn more about becoming a member here. See the full calendar of Year in Slow Food steals and deals here.

Slow Chicagoan Profile : Jen Moore of Meez Meals

The following is a guest blog post by local Chicago writer and illustrator, Emily Torem.

It's that time of year. Life gets - well, busy. And sometimes, even thought you might not like to admit it, our hectic lives (whether during the holidays or not) might get in the way of slowing down to enjoy a quality, healthy, fresh cooked, or even locally sourced meal. Meez Meals founder Jen Moore realized that working parents, busy people and practically everyone in between could relate to this struggle. Her idea, to found a company which delivers prepped and pre-measured ingredients to homes all over Chicago helps scores of busy folks slow down and sit down to a delicious dinner each night with friends and family. Moore's facility is one of the prized few in Chicago to be a Certified Green Restaurant Association location and her mission helps connect subscribers with their food, the people around them, and being present in a fast paced world - something that speaks to the very core of the Slow Food Chicago mission. Read on for our interview with Jen and to learn more about how Meez Meals is helping it's Chicago members reconnect with mealtime. As we close out the year, many of us had the pleasure of gathering with family and friends around a communal table to enjoy a meal together during the holiday season. With the help of companies like Jen's, this act of slowing down and enjoying your food can become habit the whole year through.

How did Meez Meals come about?

I was working in brand management at Unilever when my sister and I were talking about dinner, and what a challenge it is. We grew up with a mother who cooked dinner from scratch for us every night, and we both loved cooking. But as a working mom with a small child at home, my sister said that preparing dinner wasn't any fun anymore. She didn't want someone to cook for her, she just wanted someone to do all the prep work.

It was like a lightbulb went off - that was a business that should exist. So, I left my job in marketing to start Meez!

How do you come up with Meez Meals recipes? 

Our recipes are all fun and creative, typically with a twist on a classic to make it healthier, faster or just a little unexpected. This means that cooking with us is always a culinary adventure, and dinner is more fun than just cooking up your same mental inventory of recipes.

To develop the recipes, I work closely with our chef, brainstorming twists on recipes I've discovered in my own cooking, favorites from his personal repertoire, requests from members, articles we've read, restaurant menus we've tasted. Basically, any place we can get ideas, we do!

How does your work with Meez Meals relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair)?

Most people love the idea of cooking dinner from scratch. They know that there's something special about it, but it's just too hard for so many of us because of the realities of life. After long hours at work, helping the kids with homework, getting laundry in, dinner just seems to fall to the bottom of the priority list. I founded Meez to help make it possible for people to do what they've been wanting to: enjoy sitting down to a meal they cooked themselves.

So many people go to the grocery store each week with great intentions of cooking dinner and buy all the necessary ingredients, only to find that they don't actually feel like cooking, and much of their purchases end up spoiling before they get to them. Or, they have an entire head of cauliflower and the recipe only calls for half, and they let the other half go bad before they use it up.

As a certified Green Restaurant Association location, can you walk us through how you got this certification and some of the green aspects of your business?

We reached out to the Green Restaurant Association for our certification 2 years ago. In our first year, we were certified as a 2-star green restaurant. And then this year, we achieved the 3-star rating. (We're just 1 of 10 organizations in Chicagoland to meet this level, and we're proud of our achievement!)

Some of our "green" efforts include:

-Composting food waste - Meez Meals takes a proactive stance in reducing waste by composting kitchen waste and adhering to comprehensive recycling activities, including donations to local food banks.

-Reusing delivery containers - Meez Meals reuses its insulated cooler bags every week. Through its personalized delivery service, previously used coolers are collected each week to be cleaned and reused for future deliveries.

-Meatless meals - A large number of Meez Meals are meatless, which translates to lower carbon dioxide emissions and water usage, making it a smart choice for the Earth and personal health.

-Cage-free chicken and responsibly fished seafood : Our recipes which do include meat use only hormone-free, cage free chicken and responsibly fished seafood.

-Water and electrical efficiency : Meez Meals uses low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy-saving features in it's production facility.

-Local, routed deliveries : Meezl Meals delivers to a 1,000 square-mile area around Chicagoland in efficiently routed deliveries, minimizing the carbon footprint to deliver meals from it's facility.

-Sourcing local : We work with local suppliers, particularly for our produce. We stay in regular contact about the produce market, what's had a good crop, where we need to adjust our recipes, etc.

Obviously you appreciate the importance of sitting down to a meal and communing - two things that Slow Food is all about. Can you explain why this is important - so much that you created a business model around it?

Research abounds that families that sit down and eat together end up happier and healthier. Beyond those studies, though, we all know something special happens when families slow down and take time together. The challenge in this day and age is getting folks to slow down. We've found that when the house has been filled with wonderful smells of food cooking, when someone has taken some time to prepare the meal, people are just more likely to sit down together and talk. Dinner becomes about more than the food. It's an occasion and a time in your day to be savored, not rushed through.


Hungry for more? Follow Jen and the Meez Meals crew via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Blog 

 

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Waleed Al-Shamma

Time for another Chicago Board Alumni Profile. Today we bring you a glimpse into the "slow" lifestyle of former board member Waleed. Perusing his profile, it becomes clear that he lives the good, clean, fair mission on both professional and personal levels and we couldn't be more impressed by his contributions as a board member and beyond. And on the heels of board member applications being due, it seems appropriate that we give his efforts to revamp the board recruitment process an honorable nod today. Read on to understand why his definition of access to "good" food can even include that scrumptious pain au chocolat you may have found yourself indulging in this morning...!  

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I joined the SFC board shortly after I moved to Chicago. I had been involved in reviving a dormant chapter, Slow Food Western Mass, and I knew this would be a good way to meet like minded people and help grow the local, sustainable food movement

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago? 

I worked on a lot of great projects during my tenure on the board, but I am most proud of my work reinventing the board recruitment process. It's not sexy, but it's crucial to the development of our organization and it's paid big dividends with some great board members who replaced us!

What are you up to these days?

I still work daily to help grow the local, sustainable food movement as best I can. I started LOST Foods (Local Organic Sustainable Traditional) six years ago to help local farmers and producers, who are committed to improving our food system, to grow their businesses. And for the past two years I have been working for Natural Direct - a local distributor in Chicago that has been committed to distributing Organic and/or all natural, locally produced food throughout the Chicago area since 2007.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

The idea of Slow Food is still very much alive in my everyday work, life and eating habits. Lamentably, I have not had time to attend nearly as many SFC events as I would have liked to over the past few years. But I keep in touch with some board members, new and old as best I can and I am as committed as ever to the principles of Slow Food.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

Good food is pleasing to the palate and healthy for the mind, body and/or soul. The "or" is important, because unhealthy food can still be good in moderation - like charcuteries or pain au chocolat!

Clean food is ideally Organic and grown, raised or produced in a manner having a positive to neutral environmental impact. In processed foods, clean means being able to eat each ingredients by itself.

Fair food recognized those hardest working men and women among us who grow, raise and harvest the food we eat. This recognition must include a middle class wage, a broader appreciation of the importance of their work and the humane treatment and dignity that we all deserve, regardless of citizenship.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

I would advise someone to spend a year attending SFC events and getting to know a few current board members. Slow Food means a lot of different things to different people and it's important for potential board members, or active volunteers, to get a sense of how well represented their values will be in the work they will be doing.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

Keep up the good work!


Follow Waleed's Good, Clean and Fair lifestyle on Instagram (@walshamma).

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Jennifer Polk

The deadline for Slow Food Chicago Board Member positions has come and gone. But that doesn't mean you missed out on your chance to get involved and join this powerful movement. In an attempt to inspire you to take that first step, we bring to you another board member alumni profile. Today's dose of encouragement comes in the form of some insights and reflections from past SFC board member Jennifer Polk. Jennifer began as a preSERVE garden volunteer and her participation grew from there. As you will see as you read on - the influence of Slow Food on her personal life also blossomed (pun intended). To give you a preview - as her passion for the Slow Food movement grew, so did it's impact in her personal life - as she graduated with time from a few sad containers of plant growth on her back porch balcony to a robust backyard garden. Read on for more food for thought from Jennifer!

 

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I got involved in Slow Food Chicago through the preSERVE garden partnership in North Lawndale. What appealed to me about preSERVE was the hands-on aspect of the work -- building a new food-production garden in a neighborhood with a strong community gardening history. As a gardening novice, I wanted to learn more about planting food crops -- and the opportunity to get my hands dirty in a space larger than the few sad containers on my sunless back balcony was a bonus! Through my volunteer work with preSERVE, I decided I wanted to get more involved with Slow Food Chicago at the board level.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

I continue to be most proud of the preSERVE garden, particularly the partnerships and relationships we've nurtured over the garden's five growing seasons. preSERVE is a collaboration between the North Lawndale Greening Committee, the Chicago Honey Co-op, Neighborspace, and Slow Food Chicago. Each organization adds something essential to the success of the overall project.

What are you up to these days?

I still go to as many volunteer workdays at preSERVE as I can - and now I also drag my husband and new baby daughter along! Never too early to learn about Slow Food!

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? 

Absolutely. Once you get involved with Slow Food, it becomes a way of life! From that first sad container garden, I've graduated to a pretty robust backyard garden with five raised beds. I'm also a farmers market junkie and a home canner.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

To me, it's a vision of the ideal world I want to help create for my daughter -- a place where nourishing, delicious food is available for everyone, and all those involved in its productions are treated fairly and with the respect they deserve.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Come volunteer at the preSERVE garden! Ok, so I am a bit biased, but I truly think it's the best way to get started. You can help with almost every aspect of the Slow Food meal -- planting the seeds, tending the crops, and helping with the harvest. You'll take home a bag brimming with the freshest produce, and feel the satisfaction that comes with having participated in the creation of your meal from start to finish!

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

I'm proud to have been part of the Slow Food Chicago board - it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone who wants to make a difference in the food world, in Chicago, and beyond.

 

Save the Date : Slow Food Chicago Annual Meeting

Save the date! The Slow Food Chicago Annual Meeting is fast approaching! Please join us on December 10th to connect with members and friends of Slow Food in Chicago. We will celebrate our successes from the past year, share our plans for moving into the new year and enjoy the company of our Slow Food Chicago chapter board. And of course, we will also be celebrating Terra Madre Day which just happens to coincide. Not currently involved in Slow Food as a member or volunteer? Use this as an opportunity to learn more about the Slow Food movement in Chicago! We hope to see you there!

 

What : Slow Food Chicago Annual Meeting

Where : The Space / 444 N. Wabash Ave Chicago, IL 60611 (map)

When : Thursday, December 10th, 2015 / 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Cost : FREE / Please RSVP via Brown Paper Tickets

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Eve Lacivita

The application deadline for the Slow Food Chicago board is today! Did you apply? Still thinking about it? There's still time! Do it to it! Need more convincing? Well, we have another very inspiring member profile for you. This time, coming from Slow Food's current regional Governor in the Midwest - Eve Lacivita. Don't think you can make a difference? Eve's here to tell you otherwise. She is proof that involvement in Slow Food may start small - perhaps as a volunteer but has the potential to grow to something much bigger - from board member to beyond. Read on to learn a little more about Eve's Slow Food story.

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I was drawn to Slow Food by the "Good, Clean and Fair" message. I'd actually known about the Slow Food movement for a long time - I have vague memories of hearing about the protest at the Spanish Steps on the news - but didn't know it was anything more than a dinner club until meeting some Chicago board members at the Good Food Festival, which is also where I first heard the phrase "Good, Clean and Fair." That phrase resonated with me immediately - it captured so perfectly what food and the food system should be. I immediately started volunteering (to run the volunteer program, ironically), joined the board the following year, and haven't looked back.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

I'm most proud of something I achieved as regional governor, actually - getting presence for Slow Food Chicago and all the Midwest chapters at Terra Madre 2014, with a table featuring several delegate producers and a huge map of the tons of people doing good food work throughout the region. Outside of this country, there isn't much awareness of the vast diversity and quality of food production in the Midwest, and it was really great to watch people tasting all the products and their delighted surprise. You would not believe how excited people get about maple syrup!

What are you up to these days?

I'm still involved in Slow Food. I'm the Illinois Governor, and I'm also pitching in on Indiana, Missouri and Iowa. Professionally, I'm a product manager at Motorola Mobility, developing some pretty cool mobile software experiences. And I've joined a new board, Project Exploration, which brings extracurricular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education to kids in low-income communities who don't have the best access to that education in their schools.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

For sure. Aside from still being involved as regional Governor, it's hard not to be permanently changed once you've been part of Slow Food. Every food decision I make is colored by the knowledge I gained being a part of Slow Food. I don't make perfect decisions - far from it - but I grow food, and cook as much as I can, and buy from my local farmer's market. Above all, I'm always thinking about the impact my decisions have on Good, Clean and Fair.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

"Good, Clean, Fair" represents an ideal that is very hard to achieve but very necessary to work toward. I think of the old "time, quality, money" triangle - you know, "you can have any two?" Right now, the status quo is that you can have any two of "Good, Clean and Fair." But we know that the right end game is all three - and so our work needs to be focused on how to make all three happen, as challenging as it is. It requires technical innovation, policy change and cultural change - and that's pretty exciting.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Show up! Do whatever you can! Take the initiative! It's not hard to get involved. I started as a volunteer; then joined the board; then led the board (with the wonderful Megan Larmer); and am now regional Governor. Slow Food is very open to anyone who really wants to contribute. And board work isn't the only way - you can partner with us on a workshop, or lead a farm tour, host a dinner, donate money, spread the word, and above all - vote with your fork by eating food that is Good, Clean and Fair. The thing about the food movement is that everyone participates on average three times a day. So that's a whole lot of opportunity to be involved in Slow Food.


Catch up with Eve on facebook for more about how she lives "Good, Clean and Fair."