A Slow Food Nations Recap : Change is Slow, So How Do We Become Snails on Skateboards?

Being involved in the Slow Food movement often means you advocate tirelessly for changes that take effect, well, rather “slowly.” So how do we speed that process up? At one of the forums during 2019’s Slow Food Nations in Denver, CO this past July, a panelist suggested that we work together to share ideas and best practices, finding allies in each other and in like-minded organizations who have the bandwidth to also support our causes. By working as a network of individuals as opposed to sometimes regionally isolated advocates, we can in essence give ourselves the power to move that proverbial weighty food system needle just a little bit father than we had the capacity to on our own. In theory, this allows us to become “snails on skateboards” - speeding up the change to create the world of values we envision.

Luckily, attending events like this one organized by Slow Food USA, is always a good reminder to not get disheartened, especially when it feels like you are moving at a “snails” pace. Every act, no matter how big or how small, matters and makes a difference. And enlisting the help of our allies (whether fellow Slow Food chapters in the region or partner organizations, farmers or producers), means we are not only supported in our work, but that we can get it done at an ever so slightly quicker pace. Below, you’ll find two articles by Slow Food Chicago board member and co-president, Katie Johnson, recapping her experience at just two of the panels she attended, which reiterate this theme of collaboration married with patience to endure the journey of effecting change. Stay the course, my “slow” friends! We are making change happen, no matter the pace.

Slow Food Nations, In Images

Check out our Instagram Stories for more from Denver, CO this summer!

CRAFT BEER FOR CHANGE SUMMIT (Saturday, July 20th, 2019)

Adam Dulye (Brewers Association) - Moderator

Dr. J. Jackson-Beckham (Craft Beer for All) - Panelist

Katie Wallace (New Belgium) - Panelist

How can drinking beer effect change? With the ever growing popularity of craft breweries and innovative locally focused small-scale brewers, can you imagine the impact if more consumers paused to look at the values brewed into their beer prior to consuming it? 

Dr. J. Jackson-Beckham shared some statistics to give the audience at the “Craft Beer for Change” Summit a frame of reference for just how vast the potential is when consumers react to brewers who take “responsibility for their beer.” 

  • There are upwards of 7,000 craft breweries in the U.S.

  • Somewhere around 80-85% of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.

  • The demographics of craft brewing are ripe for change with only 31% of brewers being women (fewer still are owners) and an even smaller margin, 4% being African American.

As America’s most consumed beverage, it’s easy to see how the craft beer industry has immense opportunity to influence change. And with an increasing density of breweries in or near most cities, consumers have the opportunity to shake hands with and talk to brewers in person instead of heading to a grocery store where you may be able to source the product, but won’t gain the knowledge you could if you source direct from the brewery itself.  Dr. J. reiterates, relating that “something is happening when it comes to economies of value when it comes to this product.” 

“This is a large industry of people who broach that together.” says Adam Dulye, executive chef for the Brewers Association and moderator of this summit. He spoke to the fact that the craft beer industry is unique in that there exists an unparalleled comradery and sense of community, to the point where there is consistent knowledge sharing between brewers. In most industries this same mentality isn’t sustainable due to the drive for competition above all else. Dr. J. confirmed this point by calling out the collaborative nature of brewing as can be seen from the popularity of “collaboration beers,” often born out of necessity. If you are brewing a beer and do not have enough of something, you look to your community of brewers to see if one of them has what you need to collectively finish the product, emotive to the ideal of “borrowing a cup of sugar” from ones neighbor.

And the “we are all in this together” mantra isn’t just an anthem for small-scale independent breweries. It was 15 years ago that Katie Wallace (currently the Director of Social and Environmental Impact at the company) started working for New Belgium, a brewery that originally got up and running in 1991 while it was still operating out of a basement. Today, the company is employee-owned and run by wind power, speaking to the company’s commitment to focusing their product and culture on the issues of climate action, policy work and social equity (diversity and inclusion, yes, but also wealth equity and the good and bad impacts that come with new breweries - with wealth comes gentrification); tenets that are built into their business model, not to mention brewed into their beers. Katie laments, “I hear a lot of brewers say, oh, well, I’ll make more investment in sustainability once I get going. But, there are a lot of scrappy solutions that are the roots of the craft brewing industry, piecing these things together. I think it’s a myth that it’s more expensive to do the right thing.” That’s not to say that there aren’t still issues to be concerned with in the industry. And from the consumer standpoint Wallace admits “it can be really overwhelming.” Some things to look for? B corporation status, the use of salmon safe hops, efforts to reduce water use and general waste (down to installing lights that automatically turn off when not in use), the Brewers Association’s Independent seal, a commitment to regenerative agriculture and experimenting with perennial grains (like kernza and sorghum), and even reducing the waste of spent grain by repurposing it for everything from animal feed to wild yeast bread and dog treats. Dr. J. validates, saying, “Anecdotally, craft brewers tend to have more best practices in more areas of innovation. I have seen over and over again the opportunities that craft beer can open up.”

Which just goes to show that beer, like humans, can have a moral compass.

FOOD ON THE 2020 BALLOT TALK (Sunday, July 21st, 2019)

Kate Cox (The New Food Economy) - Moderator

Urvashi Rangan (FoodPrint) - Panelist

Martin Lemos (National Young Farmers Coalition) - Panelist

Jillian Semaan (Green America) - Panelist

At the time of this writing (in late July), there are somewhere around 460* days until the 2020 election. With over 20 democratic candidates, and 1 republican challenger to the incumbent, there are many voices in the arena, but will the food policy issues that impact farmers and consumers be part of the national discussion? 

On one hand, moderator Kate Cox kicked off the “Food on the 2020 Ballot” talk by commenting on “how interesting it is that food and agriculture is making any news at all.” In past years, agricultural concerns have failed to get much play in the national media, much less on the debate stage. However, with anti-trust and corporate consolidation being the center of many of the forerunner’s platforms, there seems to be some sliver of hope that this correlation to “big ag” can become part of a universal conversation. Agriculture certainly hasn’t remained untouched by the claws of consolidation, as can be seen from the monopolization of the big four meatpackers (Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National Beef Packing Corporation) controlling a majority of the beef slaughtered and processed in the U.S. for public consumption; not to mention general unclarity in COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) where meat can be raised, processed and finished in completely separate places, despite what the end label may indicate. 

Much of this consolidation is systemic to the issues that plague our broader economy, but the severe fragmentation of the country’s regulatory system also plays a role. Regardless of who is in office next, they will need to navigate this web of organizations responsible for conducting research and creating regulatory policy. From labeling to fertilizers (which currently can include sewage sludge) & pesticides to the acceptable allowance of feces allowed in animal feed, the organizations tasked with these types of regulation, from the more commonly known USDA (Department of Agriculture), FDA (Food & Drug Administration), and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) down to DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services), FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), don’t do a great job of communicating with one another. The sad truth as confirmed by panelist Jullian Semaan is that, “Federal agriculture doesn’t mean regulated for the betterment of our health.” Even deeper than the lack of communication between operations, Jillian spoke to the “slow” processing of information she witnessed while working for the USDA’s Civil Rights Office for the duration of President Obama’s term. “We were settling cases in 2009-2010 from 1981 to 1986. So that gives folks just a sense of what is really happening probably even today.” If this was happening roughly a decade ago, what leads us to believe things are any different today? Kate expands, reminding the audience that, “changes to census methodology have meant that some farmers, black farmers in particular weren’t counted. It cost them money, it cost them loans, it cost them land.” With all this political turmoil in the food and agriculture realm, this election cycle seems primed for the pendulum to swing back into the sphere of accuracy and equity. But first and foremost that means having uninhibited access to clear, uncorrupted, and unbiased information. Urvashi Rangan confirms, “When we don’t count things, we don’t correlate things properly. That’s the secondary consequence of that. So if you don’t count black farmers, it doesn’t seem like there are any. The analysis can then be very misleading because the data that is being captured is just not accurate.” 

However, amidst what may seem like a dismal forecast, there are some silver linings. First off, there is clear consumer interest. Urvashi relates that “More than 90% of people want to know where their food comes from.” When policy doesn’t support that demand, it means there is immense opportunity to make strides at more clarity in learning where our food comes from.

Martin Lemos, Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition said a bright spot in the most recent 2017 Agricultural Census was the notable rise in local food and organic sales. This means that consumer demand is influencing a food evolution, if you will, which hopefully will result in more incentives to produce and eat this way. Farming remains very difficult to break into with farm land being nearly impossible to purchase without exorbitant wealth along with net incomes not viable to support new, younger farmers creating a national agricultural crisis. But as long as we keep having these conversations, we can help bridge the gaps between misinformation and informed and joyful consumer action.

Lemos continues, “It’s really important that we think about food policy as broader then just what happens on farms. Thinking about healthcare, thinking about access to housing and immigration rights, these things are essential to food policy. We need to be connecting these dots.” What can Slow Food Chapters and advocates do to continue the conversation so a broader audience is connecting those dots? “Building coalitions is important. Connecting with farmers, lawmakers and other advocates. It can be really dire, but we’ve also seen that things happen when pressure with public engagement, voicing concerns, proposing new policy, bringing together large groups of people and engaging diverse coalitions. Look outside your organization and start building bridges with other like-minded groups and even groups that may not necessarily agree, but are willing to have that conversation.” Jillian leaves the audience with a call to action, reiterating that we can’t rely on the government to effect this change. As Slow Food Chapter leaders and community organizers, it’s up to us to keep moving that needle and advocating for changes large and small alike.

*As of 9/3/19 there are 427 days!

Slow Food Chicago - Spring 2018 Update

2018 has been one of the busier spring seasons on record for Slow Food Chicago. So today, we're taking a stroll down memory lane to reminisce about all that we've been up to since March. With the summer solstice (and our Annual Potluck celebrating the start of summer) just a couple of weeks away, as anxious as we are to officially be operating on "summer hours," we want to take a minute to reflect on all that we've accomplished in springtime.

Food Book Club

The 2018 schedule for food book club was announced and we've already met and discussed three of the six titles we plan on reading this year.  First up was Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen. We noshed on sourdough biscuits and discussed this dreamy memoir - a tale of duality about a chef splitting her time first in the big apple in high end restaurants and then returning to her roots in a cabin in rural Minnesota. Next, we changed things up with a panel style discussion at the MCA Commons about Paul Robert's The End of Food while also discussing the Ark of Taste and its efforts to preserve food culture and heritage at risk of being lost. Just the other week, we gathered for the third food book club discussion - where we explored The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food by Michelin Star Chef Daniel Patterson and natural perfumist Mandy Aftel. We're taking the month of June off, but we'll be back at it in July with Carl Honore's In Praise of Slowness : Challenging the Cult of Speed.

Good Food Expo

We were fortunate to be involved in this year's Good Food EXPO this March. Not only did we exhibit with a "Slow Seeds" booth where we engaged with attendees and passed out Ark of Taste seeds for planting (including Amish Paste Tomato seeds and Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce Seeds), but we also had the opportunity to sit in on Abe Conlon's and Michael Harlan Turkell's Master Class : Acid Trip, Travels in the World of Vinegar. During the masterclass, participants enjoyed a pork vindaloo prepared by Abe, a posca sour cocktail of Michael's creation, and infused vinegar shots (including aronia berry vinegar, sorghum vinegar, ramp vinegar, heirloom tomato vinegar and concord grape vinegar). 

Farm to Fork Dinner at Eataly Chicago with Paul Fehribach of Big Jones

Through a new partnership with Eataly Chicago, La Scuola has been hosting "Farm to Fork" dinners featuring "slow" producers. Most recently, this included a dinner with Paul Fehribach, owner of Big Jones. Participants left with a better understanding of Slow Food and heirloom ingredients, which Paul highlights on his menus. Next up this June, we spend an evening with Ali Cole, founder of the Farinata Project, a chickpea based Italian Bread. Hope you can join us!

preSERVE Garden Days

We finally thawed out from the winter and despite a rather chilly start to the season, we got busy volunteering in the garden - planting, cleaning and weeding. An entire portion of the garden is committed to growing Ark of Taste ingredients, and on a recent volunteer day, we planted kale, chard and onions. As of last weekend, the strawberry patch is starting to ripen as well! If you haven't made it to a volunteer day yet, things are going to heat up this June and July. Hope to see you on the first and third Saturday to get busy in the garden together! Can't make it on the weekends? We're hosting a crop mob at The Pie Patch next Wednesday!

Celebrating Earth Day in Batavia, IL

In line with our commitment to engage more audiences throughout not just the city, but also the suburbs of Chicago, we participated in a special Earth Day Celebration at the Montessori Academy's campus this April. Along with other sustainably focused vendors, we had a blast on this green campus along the Fox River.

Annual Tomato Seedling Sale

Our annual Tomato Seedling Sale happened on a chilly and sometimes rainy weekend in May. But you still showed up and went home with seedlings to #growyourown this season. Whether you picked up Ark of Taste varietals like Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter or a Sudduth Strain Brandywine or even a variety you haven't grown before like the pepper shaped Opalka or the plum shaped Ukranian Purple, thanks to all of you who purchased seedlings this year and for selling us out of inventory on the first day of the sale! Extra thanks to Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square for hosting us another year (and for fueling us with coffee and biscuits)!

Dishing on the Farm Bill

Recently, the Farm Bill has gotten some deserved attention in political activism. A couple of our very own board members - Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Meat CSA and Alison Parker of Radical Root Farm - have gotten involved in their own right. Both joined forces with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to host events about the politics behind the food on our plates and "dish" about the proposed farm bill. Oftentimes, these events involve not just food, but also an educational component and perhaps even a postcard writing party where participants can emplor their representatives to advocate for a bill that helps sustainably-focused small family farmers. Click here to read a companion blog post from Farm Aid about these parties that are gaining popularity in these times of increased grass-roots activism.

National Restaurant Association Show

May is notorious for a being a busy time of year. Add to the calendar the industry's most talked about food show that draws industry experts from the world over and you've got yourself a packed schedule. Slow Food Chicago was fortunate to be invited to partake in a couple of stage demonstrations at the BellaVita Pavillon. On Saturday, board member and pastry chef instructor Heidi Hedeker lead audience members through a "World of Baking" demo showcasing Ark of Taste Wheats like Turkey Red Wheat which can be used to make pastry dough, naan bread and even miche bread. On Monday, chef Jaime Gurrerro and co-president Katie Johnson led audience members through the composition of a grain salad built using primarily Ark of Taste ingredients including Turkey Red Wheat Berries from The Mill at Janie's Farm, Rio Zape heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, dressed in a vinaigrette using benne oil. Want to recreate it at home? Click here!

Granor Farm Dinner

This past weekend, a couple of members of the Slow Food Chicago board were lucky to accompany Midwest Ark of Taste chair Jennifer Breckner to Three Oaks, MI for a special 7-course dinner at Granor Farm. Chef Abra Berens prepared a farm fresh meal highlighting Ark of Taste ingredients and items vital to local foodways. Guests had the opportunity to tour the farm, and then gathered in the farmhouse for meal where the distance from farm to table was virtually 50 yards or less for nearly every ingredient. $45 of each ticket sold to this inspired meal benefitted Slow Food USA and the Plant a Seed Campaign. On top of that, for every ticket sold, a "Plant a Seed" kit was donated to a school garden encouraging #foodforchange. Relive the event in our instagram story highlights.

Stay tuned for more this summer and check back on our events page for updates! Thanks for making this Spring the most eventful #goodcleanfair season yet!

Slow Food Chicago 2017 - In Review

"It's no longer a few sprints here and there. It's a marathon and our cadence is ours to determine, so long as we keep moving. For me, that movement comes in the form of feeding people in all the ways I know how, but doing so with greater purpose and recruiting others to do the same since we are indeed stronger and more capable together." -Julia Turshen from her book, Feed The Resistance : Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved


We call ourselves the Slow Food movement, fully recognizing that we rely on the power of individuals to join together and help us not just keep going, but to go farther. No matter your level of involvement this past year with our local Slow Food Chicago chapter, we're grateful to have your voice in chorus with our own. With your help, this year (2017), we accomplished a lot, including : 

-Board Member attendance and participation in Soup & Bread at the Hideout with donations going to efforts to alleviate hunger through supporting local food pantries.

-Food Book Club was held throughout the year and throughout the city with book topics ranging from skin health to soil heath, all with the common theme of food.

-@slowfoodchicago was host to instagram takeovers from community partners and fellow Slow Food Members including - Gardeneers (Amanda Fieldman), Midwest Ark of Taste Committee Chair (Jennifer Breckner), Sitka Salmon Shares (Marsh Skeele), Green City Market, Snail of Approval Chair Laurell Sims, Photographer Rachel Brown Kulp, and Chef Katie Simmons. Not to mention our board member holiday takeover (more on that below).

-preSERVE Garden Volunteer Days were held throughout the growing season in North Lawndale in partnership with the Chicago Honey Co-op, North Lawndale Greening Committee and Neighborspace.

-In partnership with the Chicago Public Library, board member Heidi Hedeker presented A Tale of Three Wheats with Naaman Gambill presenting What's the Buzz about Beekeeping.

-Slow Food USA provided seeds to Chicago Public Schools to plant and grow in school gardens across the city.

-Our annual Tomato Seedling Sale sold over 100 Ark of Taste and heirloom variety tomatoes and other seedlings.

-Slow Food Chicago hosted the annual Summer Solstice Potluck at Christy Webber Landscapes.

-Organized crop mobs in partnership with Advocates for Urban Agriculture at : South Merrell Community Garden, Englewood Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen, Earnest Earth, OTIS Fresh Farm, the Pie Patch, and Star Farm.

-Attended Slow Food Nations in Denver, Colorado - sending several delegates from Chicago who got to meet Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini and learn about what chapters throughout the US are doing to promote good, clean and fair food.

-Participated in the AUA's Summer Soiree at Big Delicious Planet.

-Co-hosted Uncommon Ground's annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner.

-Hosted a Rooftop Garden Tour at McCormick Place.

-Celebrated at the Annual Farm Roast hosted at Local Foods - our biggest fundraiser of the year where we raised over $5K that will go to support delegates attending Terra Madre and Slow Food Nations.

-And to wrap up a successful year, we celebrated Terra Madre Day - Slow Food's annual day to promote the diversity of food traditions and production during our Annual Meeting at Ampersand CoWork.

holiday takeover.001.jpeg

To close out December, the Slow Food Chicago Board of Directors hosted a holiday takeover leading up to the holiday season. Hope you enjoyed sharing in our favorite memories, traditions and recipes. To recreate some highlights from our board takeover, see below!

-For Dan's Latke recipe - click here.

-For Heidi's corn cookie with pickled strawberry jam - click here.

-For Molly's creamed spinach recipe - click here.

Again, we could not have made it through such a successful 2017 without you. Looking forward to what 2018 brings for the good, clean and fair movement.

"Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder." - Rumi

Journey to Chengdu, China - Slow Food International Congress 2017

The following is a guest blog post by Slow Food Midwest Ark of Taste Committee Chair Jennifer Breckner. You may have caught some of her photos from her travels on our instagram on Thursday 11/2/17 over at @slowfoodchicago. For a more in-depth behind the scenes look at her trip to Chengdu, China for this year's Slow Food International Congress, read on! Thank you, Jennifer for sharing your journey with us!

Wall text from the Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu, China

Wall text from the Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu, China

Every five years, Slow Food holds an International Congress which allows delegates to gather around issues that will guide the organization forward. It’s a point to pause and take stock of our past work but also to delve into areas that we could be better at—think inclusion, openness and diversity—and then set a vision for the work we have ahead of us. In addition, Slow Food, as a nonprofit, is required to share information such as financial statements, and to produce reports on their work such as the 2012-2017 Ark of Taste Document, as well as allow delegates voting rights on statutes that the executive committee has deemed important. These are procedural things that happen at these gatherings.

The 7th Slow Food International Congress took place in Chengdu, China, from September 29 – October 1, 2017. Over four-hundred delegates traveled from ninety countries to attend, including forty-three from the United States. Chengdu is located in the Sichuan Province. It was designated a UNESCO gastronomic heritage site in 2010 and has more than sixty thousand restaurants providing complex, flavorful and absolutely phenomenal food and is known for Sichuan peppercorns, which add a dose of tingle to your tongue.

Spices displayed at the farmers market.

Spices displayed at the farmers market.

The conference was held at the Shangri-La Hotel and we were welcomed at a traditional Sichuan dinner on Thursday night at a tea house. The full conference began very early the next morning as, ahem, some of us were dealing with jet lag and were very grateful that the Italians brought coffee from Lavazza. Kicking off the first day of formal speeches was a parade featuring representatives from each of the countries in attendance proudly waving their flags. It’s a gesture that highlights the global connections of our Slow Food network and adds a bit of fun to the event.

International Councilors

Kathryn Lynch Underwood from Detroit, Tiffany Nurrenbern from San Francisco and I attended as newly elected International Councilors representing the United States. We join a group of forty councilors from around the world who serve as an advisory board for Slow Food. It is a three year volunteer position that has us traveling once a year to gather with our colleagues and discuss Slow Food’s work.

The Conference

Friday was formal in nature with a lineup of speakers such as Alma Rosa Garcés Medina, a biologist from Mexico and Tiejun Wen, the executive dean of China’s Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainable Development at Renmin University and the Institute for Rural Reconstruction at Southwest University, talking of challenges that their countries faced from the effects of climate change. John Kariuki Mwangi, vice-president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity offered: ““In Kenya, my country, the pastoralist communities are the hardest hit and many are being forced to migrate…Slow Food is working on this…through the promotion of agroecology and the protection of biodiversity, standing alongside producers.” Fighting climate change is a new focus for Slow Food. The U.S. was represented when Kathryn Underwood spoke to the delegation about the history of urban farming in Detroit, the evolution of “slow neighborhoods” there and the contributions of African Americans and immigrants to both, highlighting the work of great Detroit organizations like D-Town Farm, American Indian Health and Security, Oakland Avenue Urban and Burnside Farms. We ended the night with a traditional hot pot dinner and many bottles of wine.

Saturday delegates broke off into small groups to share success stories from our local efforts and grappled with questions pertaining to issues that Slow Food faces in promoting its message. It was an opportunity to get to know Slow Food leaders and their work better. Dinner was at the hotel and we were treated to performances such as the Chinese Dragon Dance (pictured), two young opera singers singing in Italian for Slow Food’s President, Carlo Petrini, and a calligraphy demonstration. 

Sunday concluded the conference with a half day of voting on statutes—for a full list click here—followed by a rooftop reception. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time.

What was accomplished?

There are those delegates who found fault with Slow Food for “throwing a great party” but not getting much done. The vote on Congressional motions on the last day was more symbolic than an actual indication of delegate’s involvement as the focus had been decided by the executive committee prior to the conference. I think the format needs some work to incite more deep engagement with attendees, yet I also think it’s challenging to bring together five hundred people from around the world who have different languages, experiences, expectations and challenges in promoting Slow Food values to work on structural changes that need to be made or to complete projects that should be implemented over time. I think the actual work happens at home. Engagement with our international community does have its purposes. As Richard McCarthy, Director of Slow Food USA offers: “Slow Food gatherings are ends unto themselves. Spending time with inspiring leaders from around the world is a specific goal. It changes all of our perception of how our actions at home are aligned [globally]…and [we] learn from those who tackle challenging work on the other side of the planet.” Personally hearing of the challenges that fellow Slow Food leaders face encourages me to think beyond my own experience and to develop a broader view making my work here better.

Ark Hanyuan Potted Pork

Ark Hanyuan Potted Pork

Mongolian Tribes

Mongolian Tribes

Chinese dragon dance

Chinese dragon dance

The Slow Food Great China chapter is the first of its kind in the country. It was founded recently in 2015 but has worked hard to nominate nearly two hundred items to the Ark of Taste; sixty have been officially boarded. We saw some of those items on display along with Ark products from around the world and tasted products that were on the Mongolian Autonomous Region’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, some made by traditional processes that date back to the 13th century Yuan Dynasty. As we gathered in Chengdu, we brought a show of strength, support, and tourism dollars for traditional food ways and Slow Food efforts in China and gained inspiration from each other to continue the work back home. 

Slow Food Nations (Denver, CO) Recap

A little over a week ago, from July 14 through July 16, a handful of delegates from Chicago and the surrounding area flew to Denver, CO to participate in Slow Food Nations. Over 500 delegates from around the world participated - and that number is even higher if you count the locals who stopped by the taste marketplace or stuck around for a demo in Larimer Square. Modeled after Terra Madre, SFN is a festival bringing together leaders and eaters, farmers and chefs, educators and families for a weekend of tastings, tours, and discussions all with the goal of exploring a world of good, clean and fair food for all. Here's a quick recap of the festivities through the eyes of a few of the delegates from the Chicago crew who were in attendance.

Have you been to Denver, CO before?

RL / CC / KJ : No.

Why did you attend Slow Food Nations? What was your motivation?

RL : I have good relationships with some SF board members and Jennifer Breckner (from the Midwest Ark of Taste committee). I was encouraged to attend Slow Food Nations in an effort to represent Chicago an the good work we are doing.

CC : When I went to the Slow Food University in Italy (UNISG), I was completely immersed in Slow Food life. Moving back to the US, I felt somewhat disconnected from the Slow Food movement, until I joined the Slow Food Chicago board. The Slow Food community in Chicago is vibrant and inviting, and I knew that Slow Food Nations would be that times 100! I've attended Terra Madre in the past, and I know how inspiring and energizing it can be to have thousands of Slow Food advocates all in the same space to connect and share ideas. Slow Food Nations was exactly the same, and I came away feeling inspired and excited about building upon the good work we do, which was exactly my motivation!

KJ : As the communications chair on the Slow Food Chicago board, I relish any opportunity to get out from behind the computer screen and interact with other people sharing the same ideals and working towards similar goals - advocating for good, clean and fair food for all. Slow Food Nations seemed like the perfect excuse to do just that! (And having never been to Denver before, making a trip there for SFN wasn't a bad excuse to get to see the city either!)

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

What was your favorite part about this July's Slow Food Nations? Was the location of Denver, CO effective?

RL : I thought Denver was a great location for the event. It is a fantastic city that offered a lot to the conference. The talks and sessions were really great, but the interaction and connections, to me, made the trip really worth it. Getting to meet legends in my field like Bob Perry as well as producers of products I enjoy like Geechie Boy Mills, was a real thrill. Being in a common space with common interests with the likes of Cesare Casella, Ron Finley, Michel Nischan, Alice Waters, and on and on.... was inspiring!

CC : I loved every part of it! The energy was amazing, and it was so nice to be in a place where everyone believes in the Slow Food philosophy or was there to learn about it. I met so many interesting people and loved all the workshops I attended. I also thought Denver was a perfect location. I had never been before, but the city is amazing. I spent time outside of the festival exploring local restaurants, indoor markets, farmers markets, etc, and loved the food culture I experienced and people I met.

KJ : Any Slow Food event of this nature is always so affirming for me. There are tons of people in Chicago (and beyond) doing great work towards the Slow Food ideals. But sometimes, it takes an event like this for them to cross paths and really connect. It's a chance to look around and recognize, all our work is not for naught. We are making a difference, each of us, in our own small ways. And it is gaining a critical mass. Sometimes getting that dose of reaffirmation is all you need to go home motivated to dig in a little deeper. I also thought Denver was a great location for the event - it is clearly a foodie city to begin with, but it is also a climate that is very different from my own midwestern experience. So it was fascinating to talk to people about the challenges growers, bakers and producers may face in the dry, humid climate. (A cheesemaker commented that some of her goats were winding up with skin cancer from loving to lounge and bask in the sun udders-up. With the elevation and being closer to the sun, they are at an increased risk.) I'm sure I would have still learned a ton if the conference had been closer to home, but it was fun to get into a different climate/time zone/locale.

What's something you learned about while in Denver that was not on your radar previously?

RL : I learned a lot about different processes ranging from production and scaling to packaging and shipping.

CC : I learned about eating insects at the Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch tasting booth! Although it was on my radar, I had not explored the topic in depth and it was interesting to talk to an expert and try out different insect concoctions like Kentucky fried crickets!

KJ : I learned a lot about cheese! As a baker, I have focused primarily on allergy friendly alternatives to common treats - which lead me to exploring a (sometimes) dairy free diet in my personal life. As I delve more into bread making, the overlap and similarities to beer making and cheese making become really apparent (fermentation - yeah!). So I was really interested in getting outside of my comfort zone and familiarity. I took a natural cheesemaking workshop with David Asher. Coming from the food world, I was aware of some of the prohibitive policies surrounding food production. But, I was a little stunned to learn that the most natural processes (i.e. with less chemical implementation and using natural vs. processed ingredients) for making cheese are technically illegal. Good on David for continuing to do what he does and spread the word so that these techniques are not lost, regardless!

Was there a break-out session, block party, lecture or overall experience that regenerated your enthusiasm for the Slow Food Movement? If so, what was it and how was it effective?

RL : I really enjoyed my session, A Tasting of American Charcuterie for the discussion, but the surprisingly fun part was the prep leading up to the session. I got to work closely with like minded colleagues, but in the same kitchen, both John Currence and Benedicta Alejo Vargas were prepping their events. Also, the party at Hearth and Dram was a lot of fun. Such a diverse mix of people!

CC : The Root to Leaf cooking class with Steven Satterfield was so inspiring and fun! We spent the morning shopping around the market with Steven and talking to the farmers about the unique varieties they grow. Then we went down to the kitchen and Steven prepared several dishes using every single part of the produce we had picked up at the market, from root to leaf: radishes, kale, turnips, carrots, edible flowers and herbs. He prepared grilled carrots with a carrot top, cilantro and parsley chermoula; duck rillete with kale stem crackers and a kale and edible flower topping; carrot top and turnip top green pasta with a white wine, parmesan and turnip sauce; and a frittatta (using the egg whites leftover from the egg yolks used in the pasta) with radish greens, radishes and edible flower topping. All the food was delicious and it was amazing to hear him talk about all the ways you can reduce waste in the kitchen! Another fabulous session was the Deeply Rooted documentary with John Coykendall. John has preserved over 500 varieties of near-extinct heirlooms, and this documentary is all about his efforts to save seeds and stories in Louisiana and Tennessee. The filmmaker and John were there for a Q&A after the doc, and it was so inspiring to hear his story!

KJ : The first night there, I attended the Big Eat. It featured local producers from throughout Denver, CO offering samples and promoting their products. Not only was it a great way to kick off the festivities, but it was so encouraging to see so many producers showing their support and interest in standing behind the Slow Food ideals (and maybe even planning on implementing procedures in their kitchens that reflect these ideals more closely in the future) - to start, so much compostable cutlery - yay! Attendees even got a small logo glass to carry around with them for beverage samples (no waste!). While the event featured no shortage of meat-focused tastes, I was thrilled to come across a completely plant-based cauliflower ceviche topped with a divine avocado crema and even a salted cucumber cider made with apples grown in Colorado and Michigan (that tasted like pickle juice - but in the best possible way - so inventive!). Experiencing the tastes and food of a new place - especially the ones that take you by surprise and are a little off the beaten path - is a great way to get energized about good, clean and fair! It all starts with what goes on our plates!

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

What was the best thing you ate while at Slow Food Nations (at the marketplace, The Big Eat, a Block Party or at a local restaurant)?

RL : The pasta with clams and the foie dishes at Old Major were outstanding, the blood sausage at Euclid Hall were excellent, and the Talbott ham that Bob Perry brought was unreal!

CC : This is a tough question! Everything I ate was amazing. It might be a tie with the chocolate almond croissant from Izzio Bakery and Steven Satterfield's carrot top and turnip top pasta!

KJ : For local eats, I had a stone fruit salad and yucca fries (it's all about balance, my friends) at a brewery that was down the street from where I was staying that was divine (they had great beer too)! But I think the best was the open air three sisters delegate lunch curated by Alice Waters - it simply couldn't be beat. Everyone participated in getting the dishes we were to be eating to our tables, which encouraged discussion and enjoyment of the meal (good). The meal highlighted corn, beans and squash and a method of growing where the 3 plants have a symbiotic relationship - the corn provides something for the beans to climb and grow on, etc (clean). A local school provided students as volunteers to help with the preparation of the meal so it could be a hands-on learning experience for them as well (fair). We ate corn tamales, black beans, roasted squash, greens salad, fresh apricots and cherries, and dark chocolate for dessert. It was simple, but perfect!

Can you provide an example of something you experienced while at SFN that you are excited to bring back with you as you continue your work at home?

RL : I feel a closer connection to a lot of great producers and foodstuffs. While my business is based on locally sourced goods, I feel like, as a food community, we should be supporting great product regardless of where it is produced.

CC : I want to build on the idea of eliminating waste in our own kitchens and at events. As I mentioned before, it was great to see a chef like Steven Satterfield really advocating for zero waste and using the whole plant. I want to do more education around this topic. At the end of the event, there was a Zero Waste family meal where Steven and other chefs prepared a whole meal with food that was leftover from the festival so that nothing would go to waste. This is a great concept that should happen at more big festivals and events!

KJ : Do I have to pick just one experience?! From hearing Carlo Petrini speak, to having a "three sisters" lunch orchestrated by Alice Waters, to a panel of chefs influencing policy and change (zero waste kitchens, transitioning to no-tip, etc), and even a discussion surrounding the prevalent deception on food labels and sometimes even at farmers markets - it's hard to choose just one eye-opening experience. But if I have to choose, I guess I'd say the live sourdough starter workshop I attended is the one I knew I would most immediately continue at home. I brought home the sourdough starter sample we were given (aka - smuggled it in my carry-on, totally worth it - it's at least 20 years old!), and just made a fresh naturally-leavened sourdough boule at home the other day. A little while back, I purchased a small stone mill that attaches to your kitchen aid mixer. The next step (given that I continue to keep the starter healthy and alive) is to mill my own flour from whole wheat berry grains (I picked up some Ark of Taste turkey red while I was on a weekend trip in Minnesota) for the next loaf I bake! Now that I have what I learned from that quick workshop to encourage me (and one pretty solid loaf under my belt), I'm going to keep experimenting! 

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

If you could sum up the celebration in a sentence or two, how would you describe your experience?

RL : My experience at Slow Food Nations brought into focus the broader community of artisan producers and folks working hard making culturally significant products more broadly available. That food is important as a tool to build communities but also to preserve culture and history.

CC : A celebration of good, clean and fair food, and a place to learn, feel inspired, and connect!

KJ : A confluence of eaters seeking to taste and adjust to more closely align with the ideals of good, clean and fair.


An Early Summer Ark of Taste Inspired Salad

As you may recall, Chef Katie Simmons (@chefkatiesimmons) cooked up a lovely end of season Brandywine tomato recipe that we featured on our blog as we got ready to say goodbye to outdoor farmers markets last year. Now that open air farmers markets are becoming part of our weekly routines again, Katie will be collaborating with us once again on some go-to recipes that we'll post throughout the season featuring Slow Food Midwest Ark of Taste ingredients. Her first recipe for a Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad is up first. Plus, head over to Katie's site - Plants-Rule, as she breaks down how Slow Food and the Ark of Taste seek to preserve delicious ingredients from extinction. The best way you can help? By eating them, and keeping them on your plates! And this early season salad is the perfect way to get started!

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berries are part of the Ark of Taste movement to preserve and protect culturally significant foods that are in danger of extinction. Wheat Berries are the whole form of wheat, and they provide healthy protein and whole grain fiber in this hearty vegan salad. Red chard is braised oil-free with sweet apples, onion, and dried cherries for natural sweetness and fat-free flavor. This has the flavors of winter with the hope for spring color.

Servings: 6           Ready In: 70 minutes           Skill Level: Medium           Yield: 6 cups

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.



1.5 cups Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch chard, chopped

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Gather ingredients. Cook the Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries: place the wheat berries in a medium pot with 4 1/5 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wheat berries "pop," about 60 minutes. (Tip : Soft wheat berries usually cook faster than hard wheat berries, usually tender in just 30-40 minutes.) Next, braise the apples: heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. (No oil necessary.) Peel and dice the onion. Core and dice the apple. When the skillet is hot, add the onions and apples. Let sear for a few minutes, to caramelize and bring out the natural sugars.

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.


To prepare the chard: while the onions and apples sear, strip the chard leaves away from the stems. Set aside the leaves. Trim the chard stems and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Rinse the diced chard stems under running water to wash off any grit. Roughly chop the chard leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Stir the caramelizing apples and onions every few minutes to ensure even browning. If the mixture seems like it's starting to burn, turn down your heat. You're looking for brown, caramel coloring. Once the apples and onions are brown all over, add the chard stems and let cook for 5-7 minutes. After the chard stems have some brown on the edges and the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add the cider vinegar. Using a spoon, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the dried cherries followed by the chopped chard leaves. Cover and cook until the leaves are tender, at least 5 minutes. Let this keep cooking until your wheat berries are tender, up to 40-50 minutes more. Add water, as needed, to prevent burning. When the wheat berries are tender, they will plump up and "burst" open. Turn off the heat. When the chard leaves are tender, remove the lid. Let most of the liquid cook off. You want a fairly dry mixture. Combine the wheat berries with the chard mixture, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and taste to adjust seasoning as desired.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.


Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants-Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

preSERVE Garden - The First Volunteer Day of the Season

It's here. The first preSERVE Garden volunteer day of the season is upon us. We'll be weeding and otherwise prepping the garden for planting this growing season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

We don't want to jinx anything - but we're hoping for a morning of cooperation from the elements. Just in case, be sure to bring layers as well as closed toe shoes. If you have gardening gloves, a hat, and your own water bottle, those items are recommended as well. We will be sharing a small community picnic style meal after the hard work is done - so be sure to stick around after working up an appetite from digging around in the dirt.

Can't wait to celebrate the kickoff to the season with you!

Questions? Get in touch via slowfoodpreserve@gmail.com. 

When: Saturday, April 15th, 2017 // 10am-12pm (but be sure to stick around for the picnic lunch!)

Where: preSERVE Garden (1231 S Central Park Ave Chicago, IL 60623 / Map)

More Info: See also our event page and facebook invite. Dress appropriately (closed toe shoes and layers recommended) and bring gardening gloves, a hat and a water bottle if you have them. Feel free to bring a dish to share as well!

An End of Summer Tomato Recipe

Looking for a recipe to use up the last bits of tomatoes you gathered from the farmers market last weekend? The following recipe was created by Chef Katie Simmons. You can find heirloom varieties of tomatoes (like these Ark of Taste Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes) at your local farmers market. These tomatoes were gathered from the Nichols Farm stand at the Lincoln Park Green City Market. I don't know about you, but after all the deliciousness that was enjoyed  this past weekend at the Farm Roast, I can't wait to get back in kitchen and cook up some everlasting tastes of summer before it slips away.

These tomatoes are one of the many unique foods in danger of extinction. One of the best ways to help prevent this from happening, is to eat them! By eating heirloom varieties and ingredients, livestock and dishes from the ark of taste catalog, you are encouraging producers to grow/raise them - and chefs to incorporate them into their menus. You can learn more about Ark of Taste, the Slow Food movement and what you can do to actively save these ingredients at: Slow Food USA.


Juicy Brandywine tomatoes are one of the best-tasting heirloom tomatoes, with an intense, deep flavor. They make the perfect vehicles for this classic vegetarian Greek recipe. In this healthful, gluten-free version, cauliflower replaces traditional rice. It's a true vegetarian delight! 

Servings: 4            Ready In: 20 minutes            Yield: 8 tomatoes

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com


8 medium Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes
1 medium head cauliflower
1 small onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp currants
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper


-Gather ingredients. 

-To prepare the tomatoes: Working over a medium bowl, use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and ribs. Remove as much of the juices and seeds as you can, into the bowl. Place the scooped out tomatoes aside.

-To make the Cauliflower "Rice" Stuffing : trim the green leaves off the cauliflower and roughly cut into large chunks. Set up the grater blade on your food processor, with the wider holes facing up. Place the cauliflower in the opening of the food processor and run through the grater. In a wide pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes, just until golden brown. Remove from the heat and place in a large mixing bowl. 

-Place the grated cauliflower into the pan, along with the oregano. Saute over medium heat, 5-7 minutes, just until the cauliflower softens and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove the cauliflower from the pan, adding to the mixing bowl with the pine nuts. Return the pan to the heat.

-Peel and dice the onion. Roughly chop the scooped out tomato ribs. Add the chopped tomato and diced onion to the pan. Cook, partially covered, over medium-high, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook off the excess juices for another 3-4 minutes. The tomato onion mixture should have just a little bit of juice, but the onions and tomatoes should be completely soft. Use a spatula to break up any large tomato chunks. 

-Roughly chop the parsley.

-In the large mixing bowl, combine the toasted pine nuts, cauliflower "rice", tomato onion mixture, chopped parsley, currants, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine and taste to adjust seasoning.

-Fill each of the tomatoes with the Cauliflower "Rice" mixture. Use your hands to really compact the mix as tightly as you can. Serve and enjoy!

Chef's Tips: These taste delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature. If served too hot, the fresh flavor of the tomatoes gets lost. You can also make these with short grain brown rice or quinoa.

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

Why Your Farm Roast Ticket is More Than Just a Ticket

We're just about a week away from the annual Slow Food Farm Roast. It's our celebration of the best of the season. September is the month of abundance in the midwest and I love when chefs, producers, brewers, and folks who love good, wholesome food come together to celebrate the bounty.

The Farm Roast allows Slow Food Chicago the ability to send representatives to Slow Food's conference in Italy, known as Terra Madre. It is here that farmers, producers, advocates, and eaters from all over the world come together to work on issues from climate change to over fishing to how to eat more thoughtfully in a rapidly changing landscape. One farmer who will represent Chicago is named Brian Ellis. He's been farming for Growing Power since he was 15-years-old. Brian grew up in Cabrini Green as both the high-rise and mid-rise housing came down. He's intimately familiar with changing landscapes, and while the world he had known since birth was literally falling down around him, he stepped up and helped create an oasis of a community garden in the center of the chaos for himself, his friends, and his community. I am sure that 15-year-old Brian never imagined that he would be representing black farmers from the US to the world through Slow Food International, but because of your generosity and support of Slow Food Chicago, he will be doing just that at the end of September.

The Farm Roast is more than just a good time (although, let's be clear, it's a really good time). The funds raised allows our Chicago community to connect with communities across the globe to fight for good, clean, and fair food for all.  Resilience comes through connection, and we hope to connect with you over a delicious beer and a slice of pie come September 11th.

-Laurell Sims

Slow Food Chicago Board of Directors

Photos courtesy of Brian Ellis.

Photos courtesy of Brian Ellis.

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 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 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.


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."

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Jeanne Calabrese

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.

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Elizabeth David

This week, we are continuing with our feature of Slow Food Chicago board member alums. It's a chance to get a sneak peek at what it means to be a board member, taps you into the magic behind the Chicago team (past and present), and gives us all a chance to catch up with previous board members and see what they're up to now. Our board and membership might not be what it is today if not for those who blazed the trail before us...! Today's profile is Elizabeth David - who we caught up with to chat about her experience with Slow Food in Chicago and beyond, and she catches us up on what she's up to now. Read on!

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

I was really engaged with Slow Food Chicago volunteering and teaching canning workshops. I wanted to make a bigger impact in our local food community in Chicago and help to create some of the great programs I got to see at Slow Food events.

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

My tenure on the Slow Food board was short because I moved and am now on the board in my new town. However, as a volunteer I taught many successful canning workshops.

What are you up to these days?

I moved to Whidbey Island, Washington. It's a food mecca where we can fish all sorts of shellfish and salmon, buy grass fed beef from a local farm stop on the side of the road at a farm stand to grab eggs or produce or find a farmers market just about anywhere on the Island. It's a food heaven and we even have a Slow Food board which I am on. I built them a website, now I am working on new events like a cooking class series and a food trivia night.

When I find time to get paid for work, I am an event planner at a non-profit called Goosefoot Community Fund and doing food system research. I also work part-time as an associate editor for our local arts and lifestyle magazine, Whidbey Life Magazine, where I will soon be a food writer and blogger as well.

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

Duh! No just kidding. Yes, it's very important to me - my husband is a farmer now and so it's in our blood and our household.

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

These ideas are deeply embedded with me in my daily life and the work that I do. Good means food through community. Clean means producing it in a way that gives health back to our land. And fair means that all who were involved in producing the food were paid and treated rightly and that good food is accessible.

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

Check online for events and programs. There is so much to learn, so many opportunities to engage in and Slow Food will tell you just what's happening. Then from there you can choose if you feel like picking up a shovel or learning a new cooking method.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

Nothing else except that you all have an AWESOME food community in Chicago and Slow Food Chicago is such a great site.


Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Megan Larmer of Slow Food USA

Do you ever find yourself wondering, what it might be like to be on the Slow Food Chicago Board? There just so happen to be some spots opening up - and if you've ever given it some thought, now is your chance to apply. Or, if you've never considered it, this profile will make you realize that you should. Like, yesterday. Megan Larmer is a former member of the Slow Food Chicago board and currently works for Slow Food USA in the big apple. She is a testament that your passion can indeed converge with your career - in big ways. If you've ever met Megan, you know she is a force - and her good vibes will inspire you to be, do, and live - better, just by being in the same room as her. We are fortunate enough that Megan gave us some time to dish on her experience on the Chicago board as well as how Good, Clean, Fair applies to way more than just food.

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago Board (i.e. how did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved)?

I was so moved by the generosity and encouragement I received from people on the Slow Food board - they supported the orchard project I was helping with by sending us to Italy for Terra Madre, hosted fundraising events and connected us with other experts for advice - that when they suggested I apply I was flattered and thrilled. I joined to be around these awesome people and to pay forward all I was lucky enough to receive.

North American delegates (including Megan Larmer, center) in Italy.

North American delegates (including Megan Larmer, center) in Italy.

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

I'm proudest of the community canning classes that we led. The series of classes connected Slow Food with the general public, taught people about seasonality, and was a great way to build relationships with and support local farmers by buying the produce from them that may not have been sellable at market. Also, it was fun and delicious, like everything Slow Food Chicago does!

What are you up to these days?

I'm living in Brooklyn, working at the Slow Food national office. It's a great chance to see the real impact of our work on the global and national scale. Most of all it has impressed upon me even further how unique we are as a volunteer network that truly acts locally and thinks globally.

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

Um - yeah. So, I am lucky enough that Slow Food is both my passion and my job. My involvement with Slow Food has definitely transformed the way I eat for the better. Even more, it has given me friends in fields, markets, and restaurants all over the world. I travel often, and find the connections made during my time on the board in Chicago continue to guide me down exciting new paths across the globe.

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

This is the ideal that I seek to achieve in food, but also in life. It means that the ultimate goal of any dish or project is to bring together pleasure, sustainability, and justice. When all three elements are there, they heighten each other to become a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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

It's easy! Follow along on social media, join a potluck, or book club. Pitch in at a crop mob or go to a dinner and ask other folks there about Slow Food. Face to face connection is the real strength of the Slow Food movement, and there's no better way to begin to learn about the vast and incredible work this global, grassroots network is doing. So, show up and start asking questions! Slow Food people almost always have the gift of gab, so don't be shy.

Anything else you want to tell us that we may have missed?

I miss you Chicago! Now, I obviously can't play favorites, but let me just say that the Slow Food Chicago chapter is pretty stellar and wherever I live, I always consider my own local chapter.

Did Megan's profile make you hungry for more? Keep up with the movement at Slow Food USA via the below links.

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