From Keith Schildt
California Policy Committee Member
State Senate Bill 1381 (SB1381) was introduced by Senator Evans and co-authored by Senators DeSaulnier and Pavley. The bill would require labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients. This bill has a lot of roadblocks going forward but has seen some surprising initial success. Typically, a proposed bill once introduced will be assigned to one or two committees. SB1381 has been assigned to three committees, which means there will be three places the bill could get stopped. The three committees are: Health, Judiciary, and Agriculture. In terms of advocacy, no Orange County state senators sit on any of these committees.
In good news for those advocating for GMO labeling, after a lengthy day of testimony at a public hearing, on March 26, the bill passed out of the Senate Health Committee. The vote was 5-2. Voting in favor of the bill were Senators DeSaulnier, Evans, Beal, Monning, and Wolk. Voting against the bill were Senators Hernadez and Anderson. Senators Nielsen and DeLeon did not cast a vote. There was strong showing of about 30 people in support of the bill at the hearing but the opposition, also in attendance, was a well-organized and financed coalition of organizations including the Farm Bureau, University of California Davis, and the Grocers Association. This same coalition fought hard and successfully against the Prop 37 GMO Labeling initiative in 2012.
A slightly amended SB1381 now moves onto the Judiciary Committee. The co-chair of this committee, Anderson, is also on the Health Committee and voted against SB1381 in that committee’s vote. At this juncture, there are no committee hearings set for the bill. If it clears the Judiciary Committee, it will move to a very difficult Agriculture Committee.
Even though Orange County has no representation on any of these committees, the California Slow Food Policy Committee urges everyone to contact their state senator and ask them to contact their colleagues on the Judiciary and Agriculture committees and vote in favor of SB1381.
What directions, projects and events would you like to see Slow Food Orange County take on in the coming year? This will be the topic of our Steering Committee meeting on Wednesday, April 16. Please email your ideas to the steering committee before the meeting, Even better, join us at the meeting! We will be discussing goals, doing some long range planning and creating an event calendar for the coming year. Let us hear what you are thinking!
Spring is the start of a “new year.” At the March Steering Committee meeting we elected a new slate of committee members, identified members willing to serve in volunteer positions that while not part of the steering committee are critical to keeping our chapter running and will be creating a calendar for the next 12 months. Also, as inspiration for our “new year” several members of the leadership team attended a Slow Food California leadership meeting in Sacramento and were inspired with ideas for potential new projects and events.
Serving on the Steering Committee for the coming year are:
Chair: Linda Elbert
Co-Chair/Secretary: Ted Wright
Treasurer: Steve Widmayer
Communications: Nina Macdonald
Membership: Gillian Poe
Serving in voluntary positions for the coming year are:
Outreach: Gillian Poe
Publicity: Stacey Rollings
California Policy Committee Member: Keith Schildt
Book Club Organizer: Diana Tierny
Snail of Appreciation: Larry Elbert
All Slow Food members are invited to attend our monthly Steering Committee meeting. This is a way to connect with other members and to let us know your thoughts/ideas about the direction of Slow Food Orange County. We meet in private homes and share a potluck meal at our meetings. If you would like to attend and need details please contact our Co-Chair Ted Wright at
The Slow Food California leadership conference, hosted by the Sacramento chapter was held on March 29 & 30. Representatives from chapters throughout the state and members of the Slow Food Transnational Committee from Canada and Mexico attended. The meeting opened with a presentation from the representatives from Canada and Mexico who are interested in working in collaboration with Slow Food California.
The Slow Food Canada chapters focus much of their effort around fishing and the dwindling share of global fish stocks. They encourage only the seasonal consumption of wild salmon on the West Coast, discourage the consumption of any form of farmed salmon including “organic” farmed salmon, and are committed to the restoration of wild salmon stocks. They would like Slow Food California to work with them in supporting their efforts and encouraged us all to watch TED talks related to sustainable fishing, fisheries and seafood.
The representatives from Slow Food Mexico generated a variety of collaborative ideas such as joining to work on nomination of transnational Ark of Taste products, Slow Tours to Mexico featuring presidia projects, formation of sister chapters between chapters in Mexico and California chapters and working together on school gardens. The ability to work on these type of larger projects is one of the reasons Slow USA encouraged the formation of a Slow Food California regional structure with the goal of creating a larger sphere of influence than a local chapter acting alone. It will be interesting to see how these projects develop throughout California and in our Orange County chapter.
I was also inspired by the extensive work of Slow Food chapters in working with local food banks and influencing the quality of school lunch programs. The Slow Food Sacramento chapter has worked extensively with the Sacramento Food Bank to improve the quality food available, through creating community gardens to supply fresh foods, teaching about healthy cooking and bringing food distribution out to community garden potlucks to end some of the embarrassment at having to stand in line for food. The Slow Food Davis chapter presented their extensive school garden program. They began their program by reducing school waste. The reduction in waste management costs to the school district was tremendous and funded a large school garden program. The gardens now have grown to the level that the district purchases produce from the school gardens for their “crunch bars” (the name given to salad bars). The district also asked the garden program to farm district land that was unused to provide more produce for school lunches. School lunch staffs have been provided with “chef training” and funds have been raised to build kitchens in the new schools built without kitchens at the time when lunches were sourced from a central food processing location. Our own Slow Food Orange County is just beginning its micro grant program. It was very inspiring to see the influence of these local chapters and think about where our chapter might be headed!