Food

Slow Food Nation: Whole Foods to pay up for tomatoes

Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers says deal imminent with Whole Foods

I’m a lame blogger when it comes to breaking news at conferences, when my brain typically reaches explosion point with all the information zooming in. I should have live-blogged this Saturday, while I was taking in Slow Food Nation’s “Toward a new, fair food system” panel: Coalition of Immokalee Workers leader Lucas Benitez revealed that Whole Foods is on the verge of agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for the Florida-grown tomatoes it buys. As part of its “Campaign for Fair Food,” CIW is urging all major corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes to agree to the extra-penny-per-pound deal. …

A few thoughts on an amazing event — and a recipe for a delectably slow-cooked pasta sauce

Say cheese: a sample of Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion. Photo: Russ Walker It’s going to take me more than just a few days to fully understand the effects and implications of the first Slow Food Nation, held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. The brain power on display was impressive enough: Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Winona LaDuke, Carlo Petrini, Raj Patel, Eric Schlosser, and other luminaries took center stage at panels. Add to that the myriad of other events and mind-blowing food, and you get a truly unforgettable event for the thousands who attended. Despite the …

Under pressure from Big Canned Tuna, FDA lax in mercury regulation

Under strong pressure from Big Canned Tuna, the Food and Drug Administration is crazily lax in regulating mercury in tuna. Among many examples: In 2000, a draft advisory to pregnant women listed canned tuna as a product highly contaminated with mercury; after FDA officials met with the three largest tuna companies, the final advisory left tuna off the list. When the FDA’s fish mercury guidelines were revised in 2003, canned light tuna was put in the low-mercury group — mainly, according to an FDA official, “in order to keep the market share at a reasonable level.” The FDA doesn’t require …

Slow Food Nation: Farmworkers at the table

Schlosser: Food industry abuses workers as matter of course

Of all the panels I attended at Slow Food Nation’s series, the most powerful for me was the one convened by Eric Schlosser on creating a “new, fair food system.” It featured labor-rights advocates from California and Florida — the poles of industrial fruit-and-veg production in the U.S. Working conditions get little play in sustainable-agriculture discussions. Organic standards make no mention of labor practices; and when foodies swoon over heirloom tomatoes or a fabulous wine, they’ve learned to obsess over where the fruit was grown — but they rarely consider the folks who actually picked it. Schlosser — author of …

Dispatches From the Fields: Fried-food nation

What I saw at the Iowa State Fair, the nation’s most popular annual food event

In “Dispatches from the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– Get your deep-fried Twinkies! My roommate at college (one of those snooty, Northeastern Ivy-league institutions) was from rural Iowa, and probably the biggest offense to her about my academic interest in agriculture was that I had never been to the Iowa State Fair. That I was a Northeastern city girl born, raised, and schooled and I wanted to revolutionize our agricultural system was …

Me, in <em>Food & Wine</em> magazine

Merrily pretending I belong amid the glamorous U.S. food scene

An interviewer once saw fit to lump Vladimir Nabokov with his illustrious contemporaries Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel Beckett. Nabokov replied that the comparison made him feel like a “thief between two Christs.”  Well, I know myself (more or less), and I know I’m no Vladimir Nabokov. But his statement does describe how I felt when Food & Wine magazine invited me to attend a special 30th-anniversary dinner last year at the late Phillip Johnson’s iconic “glass house,” along with nine other “important innovators in the epicurean world.” The magazine’s September 2008 issue briefly recounts the dinner. Here are the …

Critiquing the food declaration

The 12 (annotated) principles for a healthy food and agriculture system

Being based in Northern California, I am lucky to be located at the epicenter of the sustainable agriculture and Slow Food movements in the U.S.; it means very tasty cuisine all year round. I was intrigued by the recent 12 principles for a healthy food and agricultural system disseminated by some of the luminaries in the Bay Area. Below is my commentary on the 12 principles, followed by some closing thoughts. Forms the foundation of secure and prosperous societies, healthy communities, and healthy people. Not sure this is correct; there are many very prosperous regions in which agriculture does not …

Slow Food Nation: Unpacking my suitcase

Prepare for a bunch of recaps and videos

I’m just getting myself together after an incredibly packed four days at Slow Food Nation, which wrapped up Monday in San Francisco. Grist was lucky enough to partner with big-time indy movie studio Participant (maker of Syriana, Fast Food Nation, An Inconvenient Truth, and other worthy films) to conduct a bunch of video interviews at the event. I got to talk to many of my heroes, including Eric Schlosser, Raj Patel, Dan Barber, two bright young farmers (Laura Hess and Zoe Bradbury), Lucas Benitez and Greg Asbed of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and more than a dozen other important …

RNC: Party party

The party scene is all about the energy debate tonight

The party circuit tonight is oddly exemplary of the energy debate in the country right now. The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is hosing “AgNite,” where you can be sure that there will be some lively discussion about the ethanol issue. That starts at 8 p.m., and it’s supposedly the hot ticket tonight. Starting at 9 p.m. there’s the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association Party. And just half a mile away, there’s a competing party sponsored by the Natural Gas Association, the National Mining Association, and the American Petroleum Institute. And that’s just five blocks from the Bipartisan …