Legislative Updates

May 28th, 2014 by Keith Schildt

Nationwide, May has been a good month if you’re an advocate for GMO labeling. Vermont’s Governor signed into law a GMO labeling bill that will require products containing genetically modified ingredients in Vermont to be labeled as such starting in July 2016. However, it appears that GMO producers will file a lawsuit against Vermont. Two counties in Oregon passed GMO labeling laws. The counties, Jackson and Josephine, are in southern Oregon in the Rogue Valley region. According to ABC News accounts, “based on recent Oregon legislation, Jackson County’s ban, which attracted national attention and money, will have the force of law, but Josephine County’s ban appears headed for a court battle.”

Closer to home, on Friday, May 23rd, SB1381 (authored by Democratic State Senator Noreen Evans) passed out of the State Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote. Orange County State Senator Mimi Walters (R. 37th District) voted no on the bill in Appropriations. It will now go to the floor for a full vote by the State Senate by May 30th. If passed by the State Senate, the bill will then go to the Assembly. If you are a proponent of GMO labeling you are advised to quickly contact your state senator (for most of us that will be Mimi Walters) and urge that they pass SB1381. To find your state senator, go to: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

In other state legislative news, AB2561 (The Neighborhood Food Act) will go to full Assembly for vote. AB2561 would give renters of single-family homes and duplexes the right to grow produce on the rental property as long as it does not create trip-and-fall risks or other hazards. It also allows the landlord to require an additional security deposit to cover the costs associated with restoring landscaping to its original state after the tenant moves out if the tenant does not restore it. The bill also would make it illegal for homeowners associations to prohibit or otherwise restrict growing produce by resident within the association.

AB1990 (Community Food Production) deals with gleaning and small scale “backyard” production. It is a very confusingly written piece of legislation that deals with direct and cottage food sales. It may require additional paperwork and expense for small-scale production sales. One concern is that it may allow County Health Inspectors to inspect the production area as frequently as they want and the cost of the inspections would be on the producers. It will go to the full Assembly for vote.

Lastly, though not a legislative action, about 150-200 people were involved in the March Against Monsanto rally in Laguna Beach on Saturday May 24th.

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May Chair’s Message

May 27th, 2014 by Linda Elbert

Dear Slow Food OC,

On the Slow Food USA website, is a page titled Stories from a Slow Food Nation. This page is a landing point to collect stories told by people in this country “who keep food and farming strong.”  The stories feature everyday people keeping traditions alive and are meant to inspire others to celebrate or create their own food culture.  Members are encouraged to submit their own stories.  As I read the stories, I thought of food culture developing in Orange County and I wanted to share a few of these stories that have been part of my personal experience.  While I find the slow-moving change in our industrial food system discouraging, the growing awareness of the importance of good, clean, and fair food in individuals is heartening. There is a growing appreciation of value in gathering around to a table to break bread in a spirit of conviviality.  Here are some local stories.

The feature article in the Spring 2014 issue of Edible Orange County, Helping Others Grow,  by Stacey Rollings tells a story about Gloria Broming, a Laguna Beach resident who volunteered her time for 3 years to develop a edible garden installation program for the Transition Laguna Beach (TLB), a local nonprofit promoting self-reliance and sustainability at a community level. Over the three year period, Gloria met with homeowners to help them budget, design and implement building their own edible garden. During this time she headed up the installation of over 60 gardens. The approach to installing these gardens was similar to a barn-raising where volunteers gathered to amend the soil, build raised beds, and plant. After a morning of working together a potluck meal was shared. The potlucks changed drastically overtime. Initially meals were paltry, often store bought or takeout. Today those potlucks feature an array of delicious homemade dishes using local foods. Working together and breaking bread together has created many strong relationships in the community.  My own garden was built through this program and inspired me to begin teaching garden-based cooking classes. The Neighborhood Congregational Church grows food for the homeless in a TLB garden.  The Glenwood House, a group home for adults with developmental disabilities feeds its residents fresh fruit and vegetables from a TLB garden as does the TLC branch of the Boys and Girls Club. Gloria is also a member of Slow Food OC and Stacey, the author of this article manages our chapter publicity and worked on many of these garden projects.

Food Swaps, events where members of a local community meet to share homemade, homegrown and foraged foods, are spreading throughout Orange County.  Sarah Wittenburg-Hawe had worked for the past two years to create the Central Orange County Food Swap.  This swap, initially 4 times a year, now meets about every 6 weeks.  The number of swappers is limited and each swap is a sell out. Swappers bring garden fresh fruits and vegetables, home baked bread, fresh eggs, jams, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut, and more. Many of these home artisans go on to become commercial producers. Recently Diana Tierney started a Huntington Beach Food Swap.  A third food swap in North Orange County is called the Borderline Food Swap.  Slow Food OC promotes the Central and Huntington Beach Food Swaps and all three food swaps promote themselves on Facebook pages.  These home artisans support each other, create a local food culture and keep traditional foods alive.

The Slow Food Speak Ark of Taste Cocktail Competition is a celebration of America cocktail culture and the Ark of Taste at Terra Madre & Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy, October 23 -27, 2014. Slow Food USA is hosting a contest selecting four regional representatives made by mixologists who share Slow Food values. Winners will be delegates to Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto. The final voting is progress. Lynn Fuller, born and raised in Southern California is a finalist for our region.  Lynn is an avid organic backyard gardener and passionate about food, health and wellness.  Her cocktail, the”Lemon Fellow”pays homage to Frank Nicholas Meyer, the explorer and USDA agriculturist who brought back the species of Lemon tree we know today as the “Meyer” lemon. The Napa Valley region of California produces many Meyer lemon products, and “The Lemon Fellow” features several of them in a recipe that is “lemon and lemon with lemon and lemon on top!”  Vote now!

There are many more stories I could share but this is supposed to be a relatively short letter.  Hopefully you find these stories inspiring and will visit the Slow Food Nation page to read and see photos and videos. Think about sharing your own stories.

Linda-ElbertLinda Elbert
Slow Food OC, Chair

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Vitaly awarded the Snail of Appreciation

May 17th, 2014 by Linda Elbert

Slow Food Orange County’s new Snail of Appreciation program  honors local restaurateurs, culinary artisans and CSA producers (community supported agriculture) who exemplify the principles of Slow Food and contribute to the quality, authenticity, and sustainability of food in our community. Vitaly, which is located at the The Camp in Costa Mesa is the first restaurant to receive this award.  The Snail of Appreciation recognizes efforts of  owners Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi of Bologna, Italy to source local organic ingredients for their artisanal creations: Piadina, Casone, Pasto and Gelato based on centuries’ old Italian recipes and traditions.  They share this heritage by cooking in full view of the customers and explaining the techniques involved.  Vitaly sources seasonal, sustainably produced ingredients and strives to reduce waste. Several Slow Food members gathered last night at Vitaly to present this award and to toast Vitaly! Salute Maurizo and Barbara! Salute Vitaly!

Do you know of a restaurant, artisan or CSA working hard to promote good, clean, fair food for all? Would you like to nominate them to receive a Snail of Appreciation? Fill out an application on the Slow Food Orange County website www.slowfoodoc.org.


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