Chairman’s Message- May 2015

May 8th, 2015 by Pam Kamps

A Wonderful Mistake at SFUSA

As the new and totally rookie chairperson for the Slow Food Orange County chapter I have so much to learn I don’t even know where to begin. So when the start of my new position happened to coincide with my traveling to NYC to visit my daughter I thought, “what better way to get to know the organization than to visit the USA headquarters in New York.” Why not start at the top?

When I set out to research who to contact at SFUSA headquarters I did not have the slightest idea where they were located or who I might meet with if I even made the connection. About all I knew was they were somewhere in New York. I had received their publications and recently received many emails due to my “status” as a chapter chair. Although it says I joined SFOC nearly 5 years ago (yes I need to renew my membership) until about 6 months ago I had never even attended an event! That may sound familiar. But I was determined to get more insight into this organization that holds so much appeal to me in so many ways. I sent an email off to a general mailbox after reading about a big event SFUSA was having in honor of Earth Day. I was hopeful that I might be there for the event. My email was answered by Kate Krauss, Managing Director for the USA organization. She mistook my acronym, SFOC, for the group called Slow Food on Campus and thus introduced me to Brittani Le, in charge of the Youth Network. All of this is indicative of how little I know about Slow Food! When we finally cleared all of this up and the two of them could identify which organization I was connected to we scheduled a lunch date for May 4 at 1PM. I was looking forward to expanding my knowledge of Slow Food.

I left my daughter’s Upper East Side apartment a good hour in advance of our lunch. I brown bagged it because they had mentioned they eat in the office. I was proud of my navigating skills in getting to their new offices at 1000 Dean St, Brooklyn. Thank you Embark NYC app! My first attempt at the door that had the address under it left my heart stopped. It was locked and appeared to be empty. I walked to the next door and thankfully it was opened and there was someone in the lobby. I had indeed found the right place. As directed, I took the elevator to the 3rd floor. I opened the door that read, “Slow Food USA” and to my surprise a nearly empty office stood before me. A lone gentleman got up from behind his desk to greet me,”Hello, I’m Richard McCarthy.”

His name sounded familiar. I’m sure I had seen it somewhere before. Oh yeah, I just read his article and welcome in the Spring 2015 edition of “Slow” on the plane: Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA.

After introducing myself and explaining my reason for dropping in with my brown bag in hand, Richard proceeded to explain that he had given the entire staff the day off work. They had just wrapped up a full weekend of meetings with guests from Italy and other chapters. They were busy doing a great deal of strategic planning, not to mention they had pulled off a very successful Earth Day event on 4/22. He felt they deserved a break so he was holding down the office while they all stayed home for the day. After sharing with me that he had just eaten his lunch I sat down and proceeded to open my brown bag. I had flown 3000 miles and come over any hour via subway and foot to learn about Slow Food in as much detail as possible. And who better to learn it from?

Richard took nearly 2 hours out of his day to give me as much information as my brain could absorb. He continued to apologize for the mistake in scheduling but little did he know it could not have worked out any better. I am sure I have a great deal more to learn but I now have the big picture. I am embarking on this adventure with the feeling Slow Food is at an important crossroad. Something very exciting is happening in the national community of Slow Food and I am excited to be a part of that. I hope you will join me for this adventure. And while you are at it, read the latest edition of “Slow.” It might show you a little of what is in store.

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February’s President’s Message

February 26th, 2015 by Linda Elbert

Dear Slow Food Orange County,

The last communication you received from the Slow Food Orange County chapter was a letter titled “Whither Our Chapter?”  March is the month when the new Steering Committee is elected and the calendar for the coming year begins to take shape.  Members of our small volunteer leadership team needed to step back, and we needed new members to step forward and assume leadership roles on the Steering Committee. We were all pleased that this did happen.

A group of about ten people responded to the letter and expressed their appreciation for the role Slow Food plays in Orange County and their willingness to lead the chapter.  Since the beginning of 2015 we have been meeting with and corresponding with the members willing to serve on the Steering Committee. During this period we reviewed tasks and time commitment needed for chapter leadership, explored new ideas and helped new volunteers figure out where they would best to fit into the team.

I am very excited about the new team and renewed energy! At the March Steering committee meeting, we will vote in the new leadership team. Remember Steering Committee meetings are open to all members and those interested in membership.  This new team will need your support in developing various committees such as events, school gardens, outreach, membership, etc. The Steering Committee is the meeting to attend to share your ideas for the chapter and to get involved in keeping Slow Food an important voice in Orange County.

I have very much enjoyed serving as chair of Slow Food Orange County these past two years.  My husband and I are planning to move out of California this spring and I will miss my Slow Food Orange County friends and chapter activities. I know I will also miss being part of the chapter as the new leadership team shapes the future direction of Slow Food Orange County!

Thank you for allow me to serve as chair!

Best Regards,
Linda Elbert
Slow Food Orange County, Chair

 

 

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Legislative Report

February 25th, 2015 by Keith Schildt

The start of the California Legislative season has just begun and the following is a short list of bills worthy of Slow Food Orange County’s attention.

AB49 Overuse of antibiotics in livestock. This bill was introduced by Assembly Member Mullin (San Mateo). He describes the bill’s purpose, as “there is substantial scientific evidence that the overuse of antibiotics leads to bacterial immunity and diminished effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. Eighty percent of antibiotics used in the United States are delivered to food livestock and many livestock producers administer antibiotics when there is no disease present. Currently Federal law only provides for a voluntary reduction of antibiotics use by the livestock industry.”

AB226 Creates Fishermen’s Market. (Aktins) This bill changes the CA Food Code and would create a new type of non-permanent on-land food sales facility (“fishermen’s market” – sort of like a farmer’s market but for fish) that would sell legally caught fresh or frozen fish caught or aquaponically produced in California. This stems from the trials and tribulations to open an on-land fishermen’s market in San Diego for the last two years (it is legal to sell directly from the boat).

AB234 Food Sales. (Gordon) This bill aims to clarify last year’s AB1990 and would “authorize a community fresh food producer or gleaner to sell or provide whole uncut fruits or vegetables, or unrefrigerated shell eggs, directly to a permitted food facility.” There is concern that the language of AB1990 could be construed to unnecessarily limit some scale producers and gleaners because of paperwork and standard pack requirement language in existing regulations.

SB27 Livestock; Use of Antibiotics.  (Hill) In some ways similar to AB49 this proposed bill would make it unlawful to administer an antibiotic drug to “livestock solely to cause an increased rate of weight gain or improved feed efficiency.” The bill would also require the Department of Food and Agriculture to develop a program to track the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock and to track antibiotic-resistant bacteria and patterns of emerging resistance, and would also require the department, until March 1, 2020, to submit an annual report summarizing that data to the Legislature. The bill would also require the department to adopt “regulations to promote the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock.”

AB292 School Lunch Time. (Santiago) This bill would require school districts and county offices of education to ensure that each of the schools in their district provides adequate time for students to eat lunch after being served, which the Department of Education has specified is 20 minutes.

SB203 Sugar Sweetened Labeling. (Monning) This bill would establish the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, which would require safety warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages in a sealed beverage container, or multi-pack of sugar-sweetened beverages, and warnings near vending machines or soda fountain. The bill also states that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay and this statement would constitute the warning.

As of this writing, no bill has been introduced to require GMO labeling in the state legislature. The deadline for introduction of new bills is February 28th.

At the national level, those interested in GMO labeling have some bills proposed that seek to mandate GMO labeling but it is doubtful any will make it out of committee. Those national bills include:

  • S511 (Boxer, CA) A bill that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require that genetically engineered food and foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients  be labeled accordingly.
  • HR393 (Young, AK) To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require labeling of genetically engineered fish.
  • HR913 (DeFazio, OR) Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act

Future legislative reports will focus on necessary advocacy efforts that Slow Food Orange County members can be engaged with over this legislative season.

Lastly, the National Dietary Draft Advisory Guidelines are out. It’s an improvement over past guidelines but will face an uphill fight from meat producers and other industrial ag interests. An interesting article in the New York Times can be found online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/opinion/how-should-we-eat.html?emc=edit_th_20150225&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=58118594&_r=0

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