August 23rd, 2014 by Keith Schildt
The truncated state legislative session is winding down for the year as we approach election time. For the most part, Slow Food-friendly legislation victories in Sacramento were far and few between. Those pieces of legislation all had well-financed and organized opposition. For an example of this see the recent article in the Sacramento Bee (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/17/6633523/big-business-wins-capitol-food.html).
That said, there is still some good news to report. AB2561 (The Neighborhood Food Act) will go to a full Senate for vote very soon. As reported in a past newsletter article, AB2561 would give people who rent or live in homeowner associations more rights in their ability to grow food on their properties. The bill has been diluted from its original language but is still a victory for home gardeners who rent or live in restrictive homeowner associations. The bill will most likely pass in the Senate but it is unclear whether Governor Brown will sign the legislation into law. The Slow Food California Policy Committee is drafting a letter in conjunction with the Sustainable Economies Law center (the sponsor of the bill) to Governor Brown in support of this legislation. The letter will be sent to local chapters for their support and use also. As a side note, when advocating legislation in the Governor’s office apparently the best grassroots vehicle is (and maybe apropos for Slow Foodies) “snail mail” as the Governor’s office reportedly does not track phone calls or emails.
AB1990 (Community Food Production) continues to be a confounding piece of legislation dealing with gleaning and small-scale “backyard” production. It attempts to set up a much-needed food safety regulatory scheme for this type of production but the language can be interpreted as too open-ended, which may have county health officers setting high fees for inspections that may negate any profit from these small scale production efforts. It also stipulates regulation for some types of production but not for other types. As written it could impact donations to food banks and have an adverse effect on the ability of small corner stores in low-income neighborhoods to sell fresh local food. The Slow Food California Policy Committee has not taken a position on this bill.
Lastly, legislation (AB1789) dealing with Neonecotinoids – an insecticide that many scientists feel is linked to declining honey bee populations – had a Second Reading in the Senate and is expected to get out of the Senate and be sent to Governor Brown for his signature. Similar to AB2561, the Governor has not given any indication whether he will sign this legislation into law.
August 21st, 2014 by Linda Elbert
The Irvine Outdoor Education Center (IOEC) was a recipient of our microgrant funds last January. This is a facility where many Orange County school children attend science camp. Our funds went to building additional growing space in the Life Science program for raising produce to sell to restaurants and farmer’s markets. This goal was to provide an ongoing source of funds to sustain the program. This area has been built and is waiting to be planted. Anna Maria, the Life Science instructor is working on an update for us!
The weekend of August 2 & 3 Slow Food OC organized a work weekend at the IOEC. The weekend was a joint project with Transition Laguna Beach and the Permaculture students from the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Although Slow Food OC was the organizer, most of the volunteer workers can from these other organizations. Hard work and a good time were had by all.
Anna Maria received a donation of 200 native plants from a nursery.” We planted about 50 plants along the orchard perimeter to begin to create a living fence and deer barrier which was part of a permaculture design plan as well as extended the bed surrounding a demonstration garden. It was a great service event that created a sense of community among the volunteers. We were also given the opportunity to try out the zip line and given a beekeeping demonstration. There were about 15 people as well as Anna Maria and the resident WOOFers. Slow Food was able to feed the workers who camped out overnight providing smore’s for dessert and breakfast the following morning using a Whole Foods gift card given to us by SEEDS as a thank you for the Ark of Taste event.
August 19th, 2014 by Linda Elbert
Dear Slow Food Orange County,
In August 2012, Slow Food leaders from California began meeting with representatives from the national office about the concept of “regionalization” ̶ to help the Slow Food USA national office in Brooklyn be of more support to the local chapters. At the initial meeting two committees began working: a structure committee and a policy committee. The structure committee began working on bylaws and tax status while the policy committee began working on advocacy for legislative issues related to food policy issues within California.
There were also several regional meetings with training and the opportunity to get to know members from chapters throughout the state. The policy committee worked hard on issues such as Prop. 37, the Ag-gag bill, and it is currently working on concerns related to the Slow Meat program. The structure committee has been waiting on the “go ahead” from Slow Food USA. Slow Food USA has created 5 regions within the United States. California will be part of the Pacific Region that will include Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, California and possibly Nevada. Instead of having one staff person in the national office acting as a liaison between all the chapters in the USA, a staff person will be hired for each of the five regions. This is part of a decentralized approach to management as each staff person will live in the region which they represent. Within each of the regions, the individual states will have the opportunity to form a chapter. California is leading this trend.
The role of Slow Food California will be to provide a chapter affiliation for people living in areas with no local chapter, to promote awareness and membership in Slow Food throughout the state, to provide a centralized web presence for travelers to find Slow Food events throughout the state, create a large base for food policy advocacy, and plan statewide events. The first statewide event is planned for Terra Madre Day in December. Details will be forthcoming.
Ted Wright, Co-Chair, and I will be attending a Slow Food California meeting in early September by which time we anticipate it will be a legally functioning chapter. Members of local Slow Food chapters within California will automatically be part of the statewide chapter. I am excited about these changes because I believe they will help create a greater presence for Slow Food within California and will facilitate support and an exchange of ideas and resources among the local chapters that will help build individual chapters.
At this time, my intent is to keep Slow Food OC informed about the changes within the larger organization; however, I soon hope to be reporting about events that you can enjoy as well as offering you resources.
Slow Food OC, Chair