Slow Food Chicago is proud to send five delegates to the 2015 Slow Meat Symposium in Denver from June 4-6. Slow Meat brings together producers, butchers, thought leaders and eaters of every ethos to address the conundrum of industrial animal husbandry and to celebrate the alternatives.
These delegates represent a variety of perspectives and experience in our local food system. Get to know Chicago's delegation by reading their bios below.
Cortney Ahern - Cortney is a passionate patron of good food. She is currently Manager of Corporate Partnerships at Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief organization. Cortney also proudly serves as the Board President of Slow Food Chicago. She has experience working across the food chain on domestic and international agricultural issues at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Chicago Ideas Week. She has been a featured writer and speaker by National Geographic, Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, the Christian Science Monitor, Slow Food, and has provided consulting services for a range of food and community organizations. Cortney has worked on a family farm in Upstate New York and learned the proper technique for catching red ants in northeastern Thailand. She would do anything for one more xiao-long-bao from Yang’s in Shanghai, and always stockpiles extra butter in her freezer.You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @ctahern.
Jennifer Breckner - Jennifer Breckner is a writer interested in the spaces where food, beer, art and life meet. To that end, she focused her 2013 art history master’s thesis, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, on modern and contemporary artists whose work entailed meal preparation. For four years she was a chapter leader with Slow Food Chicago. She now serves on Slow Food’s Midwest Ark of Taste Committee. Jennifer is a prolific event planner and successful executor of art and food-based events. During her board tenure she led the Farm Roast, which brought together her interest in promoting humanely raised meat and her love of craft beer. She is so fond of the latter that when she was a 2014 Terra Madre delegate she participated exclusively in craft beer taste workshops and convinced herself that she had found utopia. A highlight was to sample Finland's ultra rare Sahti, listed on the Ark. Last year she was also chosen as a delegate to Slow Food USA’s inaugural Slow Meat Conference because of her work with the organization and her background as a long-term vegetarian and animal rights activist turned conscious carnivore.
Sara Gasbarra - Sara Gasbarra, is the founder and “lead garden girl” for Verdura, a garden design company that cultivates culinary gardens for Chicago restaurants. Her kitchen production plots have been featured in several publications including Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Magazine and Crain’s Chicago Business. Sara also co-founded Green City Market's Junior Board, serving as Chair for four years. Her inspiration for cultivating edible green spaces for her chef clientele is drawn directly from childhood memories of summers spent gardening and cooking with her Italian-born father. Sara's favorite edibles to grow for her restaurant clients include garnet mustard, cime di rapa, Kyoto red carrots, violetto fava beans, chiles, lavender, anise hyssop, nasturtium and lemon basil.
Jody Osmond - Jody Osmund grew up on a diversified grain (corn, wheat, hay, oats, soybeans) and livestock (chickens, pigs, beef, sheep, and horses) farm. He left the farm for college and a professional career in the late 80's. In 2002, he and his young family (wife, Beth, and boys, Richard and Duncan) returned to family land outside of Ottawa, IL to start the first vegetable CSA in the county. The Osmund's added livestock to the farm over time and started the first Meat & Egg CSA in Illinois in 2007. In 2008, they transitioned the farm completely to meat and eggs. Jody is a leader in the good food movement serving two years on the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, continuing to serve as a member of the Illinois Stewardship Allicance's Grass Roots Policy Committee, founder of Greenfarmers -the North Central Illinois Farmer Network, farmer adviser and grant reviewer for the Healthy and Humane Farms Fund, and founder and steering committee co-chair of Band of Farmers - the Chicago-land CSA Coalition.
Rich Wood - Rich Wood leads FACT (Food Animal Concerns Trust) as its Executive Director. Founded in 1982, FACT mission is to “promote humane farming and advocate for the safe production of meat, milk, and eggs. FACT helps consumers make humane and healthy choices.” FACT’s Humane Farming Program provides grants to farmers across the nation through its Fund-a-Farmer Project, to enable farmers to transition their pigs, chickens and/or cattle to pasture or make improvements in their pastures. Rich leads the Project’s Grant Review Committee. FACT’s Food Safety Program identifies and advocates for steps farmers should take to keep their cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens from being the cause of human disease. Here Rich leads Keep Antibiotics Working, a national coalition working to end needless routine antibiotic use with farm animals. Before coming to FACT Rich led Illinois Stewardship Alliance as its first Executive Director, was the director for a statewide social justice and land use advocacy network for the religious community, and helped develop the Citizens Organizing Project, addressing coal mining and related environmental issues in rural Illinois.