Microgrant Applications Now Being Accepted

July 16th, 2014 by Wayan Kaufman

The Board of Slow Food OC is pleased to announce that we are now accepting Microgrant applications through July 31st.

Past Microgrants have supported local school and community gardens, and small food businesses and artisan producers. All projects must support the core mission of Slow Food: good, clean, and fair food for all. The maximum grant award is $1,500, however, most awards are between $200 – $1,000.

To apply, please visit the Microgrant information page and review the instructions carefully. Then develop your project idea: write up a concise, clear project proposal based on the application questions, get a letter of reference, and take some time to put together your tentative budget. Finally, download, complete, and submit your application by midnight, July 31st, at the latest. All complete applications submitted by the deadline will be considered. We look forward to hearing from you. Good luck!

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What ‘California’ Food Item would You Want on the Ark?

July 14th, 2014 by Ted Wright

AoTimageThe Ark of Taste is an international, Slow Food program that identifies small-scale, quality food items associated with the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet; it is an extraordinary heritage of fruits, vegetables, animal breeds, cheeses, breads, sweets and cured meats. The Ark was created to point out the existence of these products, draw attention to the risk of their extinction within a few generations, and invite actions to help protect them. In some cases this might be by buying and consuming them, in some cases by telling their story and supporting their producers, and in others, such as the case of endangered wild species, this might mean eating less or none of them in order to preserve them and favor their reproduction.

To help gather items for boarding onto the Ark, Slow Food USA has organized the country into regions and created regional Ark of Taste committees. One of these regions is in California and two of the members of the California regional committee are Orange County chapter members Linda Elbert and Ted Wright. As committee members, we take part in evaluations of items nominated for boarding on the Ark that are associated with California foodways. Another of our roles is to help identify and nominate new food items for possible boarding on the Ark and it is in this effort that we could use your help. (Of course, should you wish to become more involved, talk to us about joining the CA Ark of Taste committee.)

What you can do to help us is to identify wonderful food items, associated with California, that are not widely available commercially. Here are some examples of items that have recently been recommended.

AbadaImageAbada Date Palm This date resembles the Deglet Noor Date but has shorter fruit stalks. The flesh is soft and melting with a very sweet flavor and has been generally well received by those who have tasted it. The fruit color goes from deep red to black with moderate to heavy bloom lending a purplish cast as fruit matures. The Abada date was discovered by D.G. Sniff growing wild in a riverbed in Brawley, California in 1936. After observing its strong qualities, the varietal name was created out of the first names of Sniff and his wife, Abby and Dana. Most of the offshoots were sold to Sunnipalms, a date garden near Indio, California, where there were 18 palms of Abada in production in 1955.

EmmetCherryImageEmmett’s Cherry This cherry is a 130 year+ old heirloom with fantastic unusual, very dark purple, almost black, sweet cherries with an amazing, complex flavor! Unlike most sweet cherries, this one is not too sweet, with a mature Brix of 24°; however, it fills the mouth and touches the senses with a complex, unique taste. The Felix Gillet Institute found the only known tree of this variety on an old homestead near the Camptonville stage stop, where it has survived for many years. It receives no pruning, spraying, fertilization or irrigation. In 2013 we estimate it had 300-400 pounds of excellent cherries. In the winter of 2014/15, Emmett’s Cherry will be available as a grafted, dormant bare-root from the Felix Gillet Institute.

CreoleCCimageCreole Cream Cheese An example from outside of California is Creole Cream Cheese. Whether eaten as a savory or sweet part of a meal, Creole Cream Cheese is a celebrated part of the New Orleans culinary tradition that dates back 150 years to the region’s first French settlers. This cheese is similar to Neufchatel and other fresh farmhouse style cheeses with a taste somewhere between ricotta and crème fraiche, and with an underlying hint of buttermilk. Creole Cream Cheese is customarily served with a sprinkle of sugar, drizzle of syrup, or mixed with fresh fruit, as well as eaten spread on bread or crackers. With the establishment of state dairy regulations, Creole Cream Cheese began to disappear along with its small dairy producers, as they could not afford the investment required to meet the new regulations. Traditionally-made Creole Cream Cheese was relegated to the collective food memory past of New Orleans, until John Folse of Gonzales, Louisiana and Kenny Mauthe of Mauthe’s Dairy began producing and marketing this local favorite.

What we are hoping is that one of these examples has gotten you thinking about some cherished, local food item that you would hate to see disappear. If so, please let Linda or me know. You can email me at

Ted Wright

 

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Slow Meat – A New Slow Food Initiative

July 14th, 2014 by Keith Schildt

Slow Meat Symposium

Keith Schildt

 

I was lucky enough to be one of the hundred delegates selected to participate in Slow Food USA inaugural Slow Meat Symposium from June 20-22 in Denver, Colorado. The delegates ranged from ranchers and other producers, food policy experts and advocates, to others involved in our food system related to meat.  Representatives from Slow Food International were also in attendance.  Delegates spent the better part of two days in facilitated discussions aimed at producing actionable items that Slow Food chapters across the country can implement to help create a more humane and sustainable meat industry with reduced consumption as well.  These items are being cataloged by Slow Food and should be available in late August.

 

These informative and lively discussions among delegates demonstrated the range of issues that encapsulate meat production in our country. Some delegates focused on the importance of educating consumers while other stressed the need for policy action.  The negative impact to rural economies of industrialized meat production as well as its environmental degradation was a frequent theme. The Michael Pollan line “nobody knows a farmer anymore” was often repeated as we lamented the disconnect between rural and urban Americans as well as the general lack of food knowledge in our country.

 

Interspersed between the discussions were several plenary sessions.  Speakers included Allan Savory from the Savory Institute, who provided a fascinating international viewpoint on holistic ranch management; and Mary Dee Berry of the Berry Center (and daughter of author and farmer Wendell Berry) who spoke passionately about the need to revitalize rural communities through family farming.

 

My overall impression was that this was a wonderful initial start to correcting the problems and injustices in our country’s meat production and consumption. Importantly, there are plans underway for a larger, more inclusive Slow Meat Symposium in 2015 to continue and expand these efforts. Specifically, it was clear to me that California (as well as New York City) Slow Food is way ahead of the curve on policy advocacy, and other chapters are looking to us to model their legislative advocacy activities. Also, state and localized efforts are likely to be our best means to achieve success – there was a “Washington DC is broken” and “captured by big ag interests” consensus that will make federal opportunities unlikely. Lastly, the overarching theme that we must consume less but better meat will need widespread localized educational efforts in order to make an impact on our restaurant menus and home meals. Towards this end, the Slow Food California Policy Committee is thinking about teaming up with Friends of the Earth to do a marketing campaign aimed at fast food restaurants.  The campaign will focus on two goals: to eliminate the use of meat containing antibiotics and to develop a consumer education program.

 

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