Thursday, December 30, 2010

Presentation by the Student Farmworker Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

In the news over the past few years, you may have heard phrases like "Boot the Bell" and "One Penny More" amongst stories of abused farmworkers and debt slavery on American soil. These phrases and the public knowledge of farmworkers rights' abuses are the responsibility of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA). And on December 9th, these groups paid a visit to Tufts' Fletcher School.

Meghan Cohorst of SFA and Cruz Salucio of CIW came to Boston and spoke at dozens of events for over a week while they were in the area. The Friedman School's Slow Food Tufts and the Fletcher School's Human Rights Project, Migration Club, and PRAXIS journal worked jointly to coordinate and sponsor the event, including providing catering from Central Square's Harvest Co-op.

The Crowe Room was quickly filled with over 20 undergraduate and graduate Tufts students, who listened eagerly to the discussion lead by Meghan and Cruz. Their discourse made for a fascinating scene, as Meghan largely spent her effort translating for the audience as Cruz, a former teacher and farmer who emigrated from Guatemala, spoke comfortably in Spanish. They began by describing who they were and why they were going around the country. The CIW and SFA are working jointly to speak up for farmworkers in Immokalee and elsewhere in Florida as well as around the United States who are abused by their employers, most often in the pocket but also physically and psychologically. Often these workers are held in a form of slavery wherein they receive below minimum wage pay and are hit with exorbitant "fees" for basic employer services and are not allowed to leave their work for any reason including family, healthy or financial issues through fear of violence. In these situations, their status as undocumented workers leaves them with no legal recourse and little hope of escaping the oppressive cycle of debt slavery.

After their introduction, Meghan and Cruz showed a film, a news report made several years ago that documented their efforts to better the lives of farmworkers. The workers in Immokalee, Florida typically harvest tomatoes and citrus fruit. They are paid by the bucketful; therefore, the faster they can harvest, the more money they make. However, even the fastest worker is rarely able to make anything close to a living wage because the pay received per bucket is simply too low. The film captured the effort by CIW to increase the pay of these workers by going straight to the top. Much of the tomatoes harvested in Immokalee goes to fast food restaurant chains, so the CIW took their protest to YUM! brands, namely, Taco Bell. Through their "Boot the Bell" campaign, the CIW worked for years through letter-writing, boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes to increase the pay that workers receive per bucket by one penny. After nearly a decade of effort, the film captured the triumph of the CIW to secure the pay raise.

Cruz Salucio (L) and Meghan Cohorst take questions from the audience.

After the film, Cruz and Meghan took questions from the event attendees, who conversed with the presenters in both English and Spanish. Meghan and Cruz discussed their upcoming campaign to take on other players in the food system supply chain, including several grocery store chains, and their continued efforts to pull back the veil that hides the abuse and debt slavery of farmworkers in the United States. The event served to explain the history and rationale for these major campaigns, and also to bring these efforts to new people and regions, who can both learn from them as well as get involved in the struggle.

David Sussman of the Human Rights Project signs up to get involved with the SFA and CIW.

Thank you to Meghan Cohorst and Cruz Salucio, as well as Beth Tuckey, Elise Garvey, Elizabeth Burgess, Rebecca Nemec, Signe Porteshawver, Isabel Leon, Sarah Strong, Ronit Ridberg, Slow Food Tufts, PRAXIS, the Migration Club, the Human Rights Project, the Fletcher School, the Friedman School, the Harvest Co-op, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Student Farmworker Alliance for making this fantastic event possible.

Upcoming CIW/SFA event:
On February 27th, 2011, farmworkers and allies from across the Northeast will gather in Boston for a major action to call on Stop & Shop - and its parent company Ahold USA - to work with the CIW.
Organizers will be in Boston from mid-January through February in preparation for the event. If you are interested in organizing a presentation in your class, congregation or organization, please contact Meghan Cohorst at or 239-503-1533.

-Jeff Hake

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Garden party at the Friedman Student Garden

Volunteers, last greenery, and one of our two new cold frames in the garden.

It has been another successful year for the young Friedman Student Garden. The tomatoes grew tall in their fenced corner, the heirloom bean vines scrambled up the rails and produced delicious mottled pods, and the plot planted by the Quincy School students flourished, growing thick with kale, peppers and carrots.

But as the seasons have turned, so has the garden. To close the year and put the beds to rest, Becca Weaver and I hosted a garden party on November 24th. We had two objectives for this event. The first was obvious: the vines were dried on the fences and the garden was ready for a rest. But our other objective was more far-reaching: to build cold frames.

Laura Held (L) and Kyle Foley harvest lettuce, mesclun greens, and senposai.

We, by chance, chose an appropriate date for our end-of-season work. After an unusually warm fall, that Wednesday was the first day with a real bite to it, a sure sign that we were undertaking this labor just in the nick of time. Aside from Becca and I, a small contingent of other folks showed up. Fortunately again, it was also the perfect amount of helping hands, with Michelle Sisson, Kyle Foley, and Laura Held in attendance, and an appearance by Amelia Reese Masterson later in the afternoon on a break from work.

We got started by removing old plant material and putting it in our compost bins. We filled both bins up very quickly! Then we harvested what remained in the garden before the hard frosts moved their way in. Being thrifty, we had a healthy harvest of all kinds of greens, lingering peppers, stubby Tonda di Parigi carrots, and a bounty of green tomatoes.

While clean-up and harvest in the garden continued, some of us got started on building the cold frames. The idea behind cold frames is the same as that behind greenhouses. Using a translucent, airtight material, one can capture ground heat and sunlight to warm a space for growing plants. For the modern greenhouse, the material of choice is almost always 6 mil plastic,
but for small spaces, home gardeners and hobby farmers will often make use of old windows and build cold frames.In our case, we found a large set of free old windows being given away by a fellow who lives in Billerica. They are all of different sizes, but with cold frames, you can custom-build the frame to suit your recycled material. Typically, a cold frame is built as a wooden rectangle, with one long side being higher than the other, creating a slope. The window is then placed on top, secured with hinges, and the slope is angled towards the sun, which follow a low southern path in northern winter months. This allows for maximum "solar gain".

Using guidance from Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest, Becca made a design suitable for our needs. We used funding provided to us by the Friedman Student Council (thanks again!) to purchases our other necessary materials, including lumber, connectors, and hinges.

Senior cold frame engineer Becca Weaver treats the wood with linseed oil before construction.

Michelle Sisson gives the cold frame sidewall the business.

We then placed our cold frames over some remaining greens for which we wanted to extend the season. We also transplanted one of our rosemary plants (which performed spectacularly in our garden this season) into the cold frame and mounded it with hay to see if we can overwinter what is normally a tender perennial.

Jeff Hake transplants rosemary to the cold frames.

Our end product was two beautiful, double-lighted (windows on cold frames are referred to as "lights") cold frames that we hope will last for many more years in our garden. Not only have our greens remained growing and harvestable, but we will also plant into them earlier in the spring than the rest of the garden, taking advantage of cold-hardy crops like various greens, carrots, peas, and onions.

Towards the end of our time at the garden we had a wonderful visit from a father and son who were out on a walk. Though the father spoke almost no English and his son could not have been much more than a year old, they stuck around for awhile, the boy dawdling around us while the harvest and construction continued. He was hesitant to try a carrot that Becca handed to him but was nevertheless fascinated by what we were doing, mouth hanging open at the sight of our activity.

The garden is now closed for the winter, buried under next spring's first flush of moisture. However, it was an excellent year for our little plot, and Becca and I would like to thank our wonderful volunteers, Michelle, Kyle, Laura, and Amelia, the Friedman Student Council, the Friedman School administration, Jen Obadia, and the grounds and maintenance folks at the school for helping and supporting us through another year with our hands in the soil.

-Jeff Hake

Monday, December 27, 2010

Slow Food Meets America's Test Kitchen

Earlier this month, a group of Slow Foodies from Tufts visited the home of the popular cooking show America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) and the magazines Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country. We were given a behind-the-scenes look into the busy operations of the company and its myriad activities (filming cooking shows, recipe and equipment testing, cookbook production, magazine publishing – the list goes on), all taking place right in Brookline, MA. Bailey Vatalaro, Sponsorship Coordinator, gave us a great tour, filling us in on all sorts of fun facts about how recipes and equipment are tested and chosen for the magazines and TV shows. America’s Test Kitchen and both magazines run on the premise of testing out recipes and equipment until they find the most surefire methods and products, and then presenting their findings (and the reasons why some tactics worked and others did not) to readers and viewers. As Bailey explained to us, the idea is that if you follow the recipes exactly as they write them, the dishes should truly come out just as they do for the chefs in the test kitchen. (Speaking from personal experience, the recipes really do work well!)

We were able to meet some test cooks in the midst of trying out pork chop recipes (which smelled great), and learned about the volunteer testers all over the country that try out recipes from home. The feedback from thousands of volunteer testers plays a major role in what recipes are featured in the magazines and on the shows, making the recipes customer-approved before they hit the general public. We decided that the test cooks have one of the best gigs in the food industry, being able to invent their own recipes, test them in an amazingly well-stocked kitchen, and potentially have them published, all while working a 9 – 5 job (elusive hours for most chefs!). Another unique aspect of the shows and magazines is that their sponsors are never companies whose products they might test, so as to keep their recommendations as neutral and evidence-based as possible. We were all impressed by the diligence and exhaustive testing that goes into every single recipe and product they recommend. As part of our tour, we were able to walk through the active test kitchen, where rehearsals were going on for some filming, and we were pleased to briefly meet Bridget Lancaster (see photo below), deputy editor of Cook’s Country and on-screen test cook. (We also caught a quick glimpse of founder Chris Kimball passing through, bowtie & all!)

Our last stop on the tour was the extensive library of cookbooks owned by ATK, organized into an astounding variety of topics ranging from poultry to pastry to Peruvian food (literally). While America’s Test Kitchen does not necessarily focus on the Slow Food principles related to knowing where our food comes from, they do focus on making cooking a more accessible, less intimidating activity by zeroing in on popular, traditional dishes and making them easy to execute. Their model is one-of-a-kind, and I appreciate their desire to draw in as many people as possible to the world of cooking. Without people knowing how to cook or wanting to cook, it will be difficult to even begin talking about such things as preserving biodiversity in our food sources. Cooking can be a crucial step to starting bigger conversations about food, and we had a great time discussing cooking and food on our tour of the test kitchen.

(If you're not familiar with America's Test Kitchen, you can watch the show on your local public TV station (check for listings), and you can also learn more about Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines on the same website.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Slow Food, Youth and Boston

Check out this article about the Slow Food movement in Boston, that was recently posted on Emerson College's Survive and Thrive Boston blog.

"Youth Participation is Backbone of Slow Food movement in Boston"

Slow Food Tufts Co-chair Ronit Ridberg was interviewed for this piece, which provides a great snapshot of the importance of youth involvement in the Slow Food community here in Boston.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friedman & Slow Food Tufts is Well Represented at the “It Takes a Region Conference” in Albany

On an early Thursday morning in mid-November, carloads of Friedman students (and many Slow Foodies) headed across the Bay State to reach their destination in Albany, New York for the weekend. This was the designated spot for the annual conference of the Northeast Sustainable Working Group (NESAWG), where nearly 400 people gathered from across the Northeast to talk food. The meeting was organized so that all activities would take place in a fantastically quirky hotel just off the freeway, complete with 18th century d├ęcor and the air of a colonial village.

While the hotel made for an amusing scene, the annual meeting was really meant to get people to work. After all, the conference is a working conference and NESAWG is a regional network of people who work to address an array of regional food system issues. This year’s working sessions were a continuation from the last conference and covered topics like infrastructure, food safety, regional supply chains, research and assessment, labor and trade, food access, food planning, and messaging and outreach. This means that the breadth of diverse interests held by Tufts students’ was largely covered.

Sticking to tradition, many Friedman students not only attended the conference, but also served as scribes for the various working sessions. That way, interested folks can review notes from each group and become up-to-date on progress. A smart approach, since the nature of the sustainable food field implies lots of overlapping areas of expertise and interest.

Day 1 was set aside for pre-conference trainings, and this year there were four: 1) Alternative Supply Chain Development hosted by Red Tomato 2) New Leaders in the Food Movement including Friedman’s very own Amanda Beal who represented Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine, 3) Systems Planning; and 4) Advocacy 101: from Local to Farm Bill and Beyond.

The sessions were well represented by Tufts students and it was the general consensus that compared to the shorter working sessions, there was more of an opportunity to achieve concrete goals. I attended a seven-hour long Red Tomato workshop, during which I learned a great deal about the nuts and bolts of the operation as well as the more complex issues that Red Tomato faces. Interesting discussions revolved around the questions of how to grow a distribution infrastructure for expanding and complex local food system networks and how to scale-up without losing integrity.

The Greenhorns hosted a festive evening of old time string band music, local cheese, and some wildly tangy pickles. I think we would all agree that the mixer served as a valuable opportunity for networking and having plain old fun.

The next day, the Opening Plenary was an appropriate way to kickoff the busiest of the conference days. NESAWG Director Kathy Ruhf clarified the purpose of the working conference – to bring together a diverse group of sustainable food supporters and facilitate discussion, planning and goal setting. This was followed by a theatrical and rather amusing presentation by some of the Northeast’s most outspoken leaders. The presentation was a hard act to follow…unless you come from Columbia University’s Urban Design Lab, which uses an impressive design-based approach to shape the future of sustainable urbanism. Attendees were blown away by a presentation of cutting-edge graphics of New York’s food system. Their newest endeavor is the National Integrated Regional Foodsheds Model that will offer exciting opportunities to identify and eliminate barriers across the food chain for achieving integrated regional foodsheds.

Breakout into the various working sessions ensued, and attendees scrambled throughout the hotel to find the session that they felt would best suit them. The working sessions were remarkably short and productivity was heavily dependent on the effectiveness of the facilitator and the dynamics of the group mix. (This is where the comprehensive notes taken by Friedman scribes come in handy). Next came another enjoyable evening of a multi-course dinner and an a cappella performance.

The second day of the conference was designed to allow for a continuation of the working sessions. Attendees were encouraged, but not required, to stick to their original decision. More clamoring and swapping occurred. During these meetings, people seemed refreshed and eager to engage in productive conversations, possibly feeling the pressure of leaving the conference with maximal learning.

It took me until the end of the conference to achieve a better understanding of a working conference: it is not necessarily intended to generate tangible and momentous work, but rather to serve as a forum for important face-to-face discussion and collaboration that would continue throughout the year. With this in mind, it appears that the NESAWG conference was quite successful. After all, I learned more about what was going on in the Northeast, met some admirable leaders in the sustainable food system movement, and was given the opportunity to engage in a yearlong process to achieve goals specific to different working groups. And, nearly as important, I had the chance to bond with members of the Tufts community in an eccentric hotel and enjoy a change of pace from my usual deskwork.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friedman Symposium Attendees Learn from Sustainable Food & Ag Leaders

The 2010 Friedman Symposium and has come and gone and there were many, many highlights this year certainly worthy of writing about on the Slow Food blog. For one, unlike last year’s focus on pediatric obesity and nutrition labeling, the recent Symposium served as a forum for enlightening discussions about sustainable agriculture practices and policy, USDA initiatives, regional food systems, and food security. The list of distinguished conference speakers is lengthy. The Friedman community was certainly welcoming of Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan’s short-but-sweet return to the school. She stood at the podium, as she had done time and again just 2 years prior, and spoke of the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which she continues to defend amid an often hostile political arena.
On Saturday morning, a quartet of speakers really brought attention to Slow Food’s core principles of clean and fair food.
Kate Clancy spoke first. She was remarkably personable and professional during her lecture and conversations with the Friedman community. Clancy has no doubt racked up a lengthy resume as a food systems consultant and Senior Associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In her lecture, Clancy refers to the large investments taking place in Europe in regional food systems research. “The U.S. really needs to bring research and planning up to par,” she said. After all, our food systems framework has major impacts on social welfare and food and environmental security. Clancy explains the potential for engaging in food system activities at the regional level, but admits that there are too many assumptions that have to be made. She calls on academics and researchers to develop methodologies and indicators for assessing regional food systems. An exciting new project (in which our very own Tim Griffin is actively involved) will assess whether greater reliance on regionally produced foods would enhance food security in the Northeast. The project involves an inter-state, inter-disciplinary research collaboration and it hopes to answer the fundamental questions of what a resilient food system would look like in the Northeast and what research and governance structures are needed at a regional level.
Next, Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Fair Food Network, gave an informative rundown of his organization’s dedication to re-designing the food system in a manner that would achieve access to healthy, fresh and sustainably grown food for all (hence the “fair” in Fair Food Network). He explained how the Double Up Food Bucks project provides families who receive SNAP benefits with the means to purchase more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. What should the Tufts community be reading to tap into his way of thinking? Hesterman recommends checking out a recent Report to Congress, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food, as well as two newer books on climate change, The End of the Long Summer and The Coming of Famine. And, stay tuned for Hesterman’s own new book, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, which will be released next year.
And who better to continue the conversation than the illustrious Fred Kirschenmann from Iowa State University and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture? As many folks in the Friedman community know, Kirschenmann is a longtime leader in sustainable agriculture. But what many may not know is that he also oversees his own 3,500-acre organic farm in southern North Dakota. Kirshenmann offers his stance on sustainable food production. “Organic is one ecological approach and we don’t know what would happen if everyone farmed organically. Let’s develop and try out a variety of options and choose them in terms of our best understanding of how the options might play out in the future.” Kirshenmann also aimed to set the notion straight that not all farmers in our history were organic. “My grandfather was a slash and burn farmer and that is far from being organic!” The agriculture veteran calls on universities and professional societies to engage in research that would focus on models and alternatives to minimize energy inputs and ecological impacts. To learn more about Kirschenmann’s philosophy check out his new book, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher.
Last and certainly not least was Tim Lang from the City of London University who presented via livestream on the future of food policy from a European perspective. The presentation was quite humorous owing to the need to work out technological glitches and Lang’s quick adoption of the role of comedian. Nonetheless, his comic interjections were appropriate and he successfully enlightened the audience about food system problems in Europe that closely parallel those in the U.S. “Just like your country, we are not linking policy related to public health, the economy, social justice, and the environment,” he explained. He also spoke of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a massive system of EU agricultural subsidies and programs that continues to focus on a reductionist paradigm of producing more. “CAP is on the defensive about money, just when we should be turning it into a public health policy…” Lang joked that Americans think their farm bill is big and have no sense of the sheer size of CAP! He also explained that while the EU may be slightly ahead of the game in food systems research investments, there is a critical need for developing new indicators for nutrition and food security that could translate into future policy.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems track of the Friedman symposium was very well planned and executed. The speakers topics and viewpoints all complimented each other quite well and if their experience was anything like mine, conference attendees left the auditorium with an enhanced and reinvigorated viewpoint on the sustainability of food and agriculture.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Terra Madre 2010 report

Ciao, internet.  We're back from Terra Madre 2010, the fourth edition of Slow Food International’s gathering of food producers, educators, activists, and cooks in Turin, Italy.  We joined over 6,000 delegates from over 150 countries for four days of discussion and networking.
We were inspired by the work of our fellow delegates, from fellow Slow Food chapter leaders to those far removed from our lives.  Standing in line for lunch one day, we spoke with an Israeli couple who grow organic fruit on a kibbutz, a government agronomist from Chad who helps subsistence farmers handle drought and desertification, and an Afghan horticulturist employed by the European Union to analyze local varieties of wheat suited to the different regions of his country.

Our big takeaways were twofold: policy and justice.

By policy, we mean the 2012 farm bill.  We were thrilled to hear from Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel that the national organization, which has been so successful at recognizing local innovators and building networks at the grassroots level, aims to be a major voice in the coming policy debate.  With 200 chapters and tens of thousands of members engaged in local-level efforts to build good, clean, and fair food systems, Slow Food USA is in a perfect position to highlight what works and lift it up to the national level.

And as we heard throughout the week, food justice needs to be central to this conversation.  At a meeting of the full U.S. delegation, Raj Patel reminded us of the Black Panther movement which, recognizing the centrality of food to social justice, pushed for school breakfasts in Oakland as their very first act.

Later, the Fair Food Network’s Oran Hesterman, in a packed workshop, presented a vision of food justice that includes not only equitable access to good, clean food, but also to the means of producing it, including land and water, and to good jobs in the food system.  Linking the issue with the upcoming farm bill, he laid out a menu of specific, achievable strategies that would incorporate both food justice and local food system supports into existing farm bill programs. 

As Slow Food Tufts members and graduate students of food and agriculture policy, we are ready to lend our energy and knowledge to this fight.  Tufts students – if you’d like to stay in the loop, write to to be added to our e-mail list.

-Jesse Appelman and Ronit Ridberg
Co-chairs, Slow Food Tufts

Friday, October 29, 2010

Video from Carlo Petrini Lecture now available

For those that weren't able to attend last month's lecture with Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, we are pleased to offer the lecture in its entirity online.

Please visit the following link to view the video:

And finally, we still have SIGNED copies available of Mr. Petrini's book, Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities. We will have them available for sale at our next Slow Food Tufts Meeting on November 18th. Books are $15 for students; $20 for non-students.

Stay tuned for an update from Ronit and Jesse about their recent trip to Italy to attend the biannual Terra Madre conference...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slow Food Tufts members process pastured poultry

As much of society moves farther from knowing where food comes from, members of Slow Food Tufts are fearless: they spent a full day helping to slaughter and process chickens at the farm of Tufts’ very own Jennifer Hashley (of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project) and her husband Pete Lowy. Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds raises high-quality, humanely-grown chickens, pigs, some sheep, and even a few rabbits out in Concord, MA. On October 9, they graciously invited Slow Food Tufts to visit their farm and learn how to process chickens.

By Jacqueline Minichiello

Our nerves were a little shaky that morning as we embarked on an experience that for many of us was our first and for some would be our last. We signed the forms, suited up and then were employed at either the slaughtering and de-feathering or the eviscerating and cleaning station of the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU). The MPPU is essentially a flatbed trailer decorated with countless hoses, tubes, ice chests, buckets, and bottles.

Jennifer demonstrated the process once and then a freshly slaughtered chicken was placed in front of each of us. The process was slow and interesting as we acclimated to our task. While some of us were less timid than others, everyone was taken back when we heard Juli’s bird clucking! And then the sound was duplicated by some of the other birds!

After overcoming the disturbing noises, we worked hard to follow the steps carefully and thoroughly: loosen crop, remove neck, circumvent backside, pull out innards….repeat. We remained in good spirits and asked plenty of questions. After processing over 400 chickens, we were nearly chicken processing experts, but we all decided that we had had enough (the process is exhausting!). Then, a few brave souls volunteered to do the actual slaughtering.

By then end of the day we were full of pride, worn-out, and very smelly (it took two showers to get my chicken smell off). But it was entirely worth it! The unique experience provided us with the opportunity to actually play a role in our food system, and one that is sustainable. Being part of Slow Food means being aware and knowledgeable about farm-to-fork issues, and for the group that took on this less-than-glamorous challenge, we can say that we now know how to slaughter our own chickens!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carlo Petrini Comes to Tufts

On October 6, Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, visited the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy on the first day of his U.S. university tour. Mr. Petrini spoke in Italian with consecutive translation, which added to the romantic and captivating ideas of the Slow Food movement: good, clean, and fair food for all, as well as the preservation of food culture and traditions that make the pleasure of good food possible. Mr. Petrini was unapologetically honest, and urges all of humanity to change our ways of life to avoid a ecological and cultural disaster. “Slowness is a homeopathic medicine; just take a little every day,” Mr. Petrini advised.

Mr. Petrini gave an animated and thought-provoking lecture on the current food system. He explains his agenda for change through a project conceived by Slow Food, known as Terra Madre, which has become a powerful global network linking together, cooks, academics, and consumers (although Mr. Petrini urges us to think of ourselves as citizens, not merely consumers). He commended the Slow Food Tufts chapter, and other chapters across the U.S., for our commitment to the philosophies of the organization.

The Slow Food founder began his speech by addressing soil fertility and water quality issues. He also highlighted the tragedy of losing Mother Nature’s biodiversity. Mr. Petrini declared that we have lost 70% of the earth’s biodiversity. He addresses why this matters with an example from Italy: “In Italy we only have 5 breeds of milk cows now, and they are the ones that produce the most liters of milk. There once existed a variety that produced less milk, but that milk made the most delicious provolone in the world!" That breed no longer exists and neither does the best provolone, according to Mr. Petrini.

He also called attention to waste issues, explaining that we produce food for approximately 12 billion people, but we waste nearly half of this. “Respect the tradition of using leftovers,” he proposed. He also points out a phenomenon: at the same time nearly 1 billion people suffer from malnutrition and another 1.7 billion suffer from obesity. “The current food system is crazy: it is unfair, it destroys everything, and it is completely against nature,” said Mr. Petrini.

The speaker received a standing ovation and a long line of members of the Tufts community, eager to get a signed copy of his new book, Terra Madre. Mr. Petrini is putting forth his ideas to a variety of academic audiences on his U.S. visit as he attempts to overturn, step by step, a very stubborn and powerful food system.

Click here to see what the official Slow Food blog has to say about Mr. Petrini's visit to the Tufts Friedman school.

Cranberry Bog Visit

This fall, Slow Food Tufts members traveled south to visit the UMass Amherst Cranberry Experiment Station and a number of cranberry bogs. The station, located in East Wareham, serves as an outreach and research center and aims to support the economic viability of the region’s cranberry industry, with a focus on efficiency and sustainability. Most of us know and love cranberries during a specific time of the year, but the round, shiny red berries are a prevalent, year-round theme in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The origin of the Cranberry Station can be traced all the way back to 1905 when the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association (CCCGA) convened to discuss cranberry insect problems. At that time, cranberry farming has been growing strong for nearly 50 years, but not without some stumbling blocks presented by Mother Nature herself. By 1910 the Legislature made funds available to purchase land for both a building to house the station and a cranberry bog. Alas! The UMass Cranberry Experiment Station began its story, supporting the industry for the century to come.

It was pretty clear that the cranberry industry is critical to both the economy and character in Southeastern Massachusetts. Growing cranberries requires a surrounding network of support acres – the fields, forests, streams, and ponds that make up the cranberry wetlands system – so there are more than 60,00 acres of total land are used to cultivate cranberries. This helps to conserve open space, making for a beautiful contrast of woodlands surrounding sandy or flooded cranberry bogs, depending on the growing stage.

Cranberry is one of only three crops native to North America and holds a special place in New England agricultural and culinary traditions. Many people think of Massachusetts when they think of cranberries and deservedly so: the state ranks second in the nation in cranberry production. Fortunate for the many Bay Staters dependent on the industry, people across the nation and world are seeking out the health benefits and unique gastronomic properties of the berry and are equally fascinated by the natural beauty of the cranberry harvest.

The low-growing, woody cranberry plant is a perennial that produces stems or “runners” that are one to six feet long. This forms a thick mat over the surface of a cultivated bed. By September, the fruit begins to develop its characteristic red color through the production of a potent antioxidant pigment, anthocyanin.

Once the berries are firm and distinctively scarlet in color, the harvest begins. Wet harvesting involves flooding the bog and driving motorized “egg beaters” into the bog to loosen the berries from the vines. The floating tiny red balls are then corralled towards shore and are moved by pump into waiting trucks.

The folks from the UMass Cranberry Station did an excellent job of making sure we got to see every step of the cranberry growing process. The trip was brought to an end by a visit to a cranberry shop with everything from chocolate covered berries to cranberry salsa. The vist couldn’t have been more picturesque for a true autumn-in-New England experience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Slow Fooders Dig In!

Like other Slow Fooders across the nation participating in Dig In!, a contingent from Slow Food Tufts volunteered their beautiful Saturday morning on a local farm. Just a quick 40-minute drive from Boston, the farm in Dracut is part of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, which supports the growth of small and emerging farmers in Massachusetts.

Tufts students helped begin "winterizing" the farm by taking down the electric fencing, posts, and water pipes that surrounded delicious-looking peppers, basil, mums, and Swiss chard. To help the farmers prepare to move plants into the greenhouse, they put together plastic tables (not the way you put together Ikea furniture, but by actually sawing plastic pipes into table legs and pounding them in with a hammer!). It was a gorgeous day to be in the country, and great for busy graduate students to use their hands for activities other than typing and writing!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome Back!

Save the Date for Slow Food Tufts Kick-Off Meeting!
Thursday, September 16 @ noon in Jaharis 118 (Boston Campus)

The heat and freedom of summer may well have passed, but things at Slow Food Tufts are getting ramped up for the exciting activities we have planned for the fall semester!

If you're new to Tufts, or new to Slow Food (or both!), here's a brief description of who we are, what we do, and why you should consider becoming a member.

Who we are? Slow Food Tufts is an official student group at the Friedman School at Tufts University. SFT formed in 2009, and evolved out of the FOOD Group, a discussion circle started at the Friedman School. Most of our members have come from Friedman, but we are open to all graduate students at both the Medford and Boston campuses.

Our Mission?
Through its understanding of the connections between gastronomy, politics, agriculture, and the environment, Slow Food Tufts seeks to become an active player in agriculture, ecology and local cuisine. Slow Food Tufts links pleasure and food with awareness and responsibility. Our activities seek to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread the education of taste, and link producers of excellent foods to consumers through events and initiatives.

What we do?
Slow Food Tufts strives to provide a forum for students interested in issues of food, agriculture and politics to engage in dialogue, learn from each other and connect with local food producers. We meet once a month while classes are in session and try to host a few potlucks as well. We also host guest speakers and lectures, organize film screenings, facilitate skill share workshops, and plan field trips to local farms. Other big events we've organized in the past include a Slow Food Trivia Night and a Student Homebrew Competition.

Here are a few potential slow food activities we have in the works for the fall...
  • Mozzerella making workshop with local cheesemakers
  • Canning fall produce skills share workshop
  • Tour of meat CSA farm and small-scale poultry farm with mobile processing unit
  • Chocolate making workshop
  • Bee keeping presentation
Also, we are pleased to announce our premier event of the fall: Slow Food Tufts welcomes Carlo Petrini (founder and president of Slow Food International) to the Friedman School on Wednesday October 6th at noon to discuss the future of food and the importance of biodiversity in our global food supply. This is sure to be a stellar event, and we could think of no better way to kick off the fall semester!

Lastly, we will be hosting our
2nd Annual Brew-off and Beer-luck in the Spring. This graduate student homebrew competition was such a success last year that we had to commit to making it an annual event. We will be looking for co-chairs to organize this event, so stay tuned, or contact for more info.

Why become a member?
So now that we've shared all the riveting food-related activities we have planned for the upcoming semester, this is the part where you ask how you can become involved. Easy - you can become a member of Slow Food Tufts! This is as simple as showing up to our monthly meetings and getting on our email list so we can send you invites to Slow Food events and other activities. As a member, you get first dibs on all SFT hosted events, and get to play an exciting role in planning future activities. We're always looking for great ideas for Slow Food Tufts and volunteers to help make our events possible.

And don't forget our
Fall Kick-Off Meeting will be in Jaharis 118 on Thursday September 16th at noon. No need to RSVP, just bring your lunch and join us!

Hope to see you on Sept 16th!!

Slow Food Tufts officers:

Ronit Ridberg, Co-Chair
Jesse Appelman, Co-Chair
Julia Simons, Treasurer
Juli Obudzinski, Administration

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brew-off and Beer Luck tickets!

Tickets are now officially on sale for Slow Food Tufts upcoming Brew Off and Beer Luck - the first ever student homebrew competition and beer tasting! Enter your own brew, or just come to taste (and judge!) your fellow students' concoctions. 

Slow Food Tufts Brew Off and Beer Luck
Thursday April 29 - 5:30 pm
Jaharis Cafe & Patio (weather permitting)
150 Harrison Avenue

Admission is $5 and includes entry into the event, homebrew samples, edible beer/food pairings, and a chance to talk beer with your talented Tufts homebrew community. Expert judges include brewmasters from local breweries and other beer aficionados who will also be on hand to indulge your brew knowledge. Plus, you'll be able to vote for your favorite brew and nominate a students' favorite!

And don't forget...

DEADLINE TO ENTER IS THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 1ST. Send an email with your name, school, and beer you'll be brewing to

Happy brewing!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Film Series: Bullshit

Please join Slow Food Tufts and Slow Food Boston for a film and panel discussion addressing the truly thorny issues facing agriculture around the world: the rise of globalisation, seed patenting, genetic engineering, bio-piracy, and the loss of indigenous knowledge.

3rd Annual Film Series - Bullshit 
Sunday, 03/14/2010 3:30PM (tickets $5)
Location: Posner Hall, 200 Harrison Ave

Bullshit is a documentary film from Pea Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian about Vandana Shiva, who TIME Magazine calls "...a hero of our times, an icon for youngsters all over the world."

Shiva is an Indian environmental activist and nuclear physicist, as well as an organic farmer who doesn't hesitate to travel far & wide in order to argue the plights of the Indian farmers. The film follows her as she does battle with one of her toughest opponents, Monsanto, when they try to patent an ancient Indian strain of wheat.

The issues facing the Indian farmers are facing the farmers in our own country as well, as we have seen in films like Fresh or Food, Inc. We use our post-film panel to bring these issues home; we'll be joined by local foods advocate Jamey Lionette, Tufts professor Dr. Sheldon KrimskyChristie Higginbottom, garden historian at Old Sturbridge Village and heirloom produce advocate and FarmAid associate director Glenda Yoder.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tufts Dining Services to pilot ‘going trayless’

We've been following the trayless initiative spearheaded by a determined Ex-College class on the Medford Campus. The Tufts Daily reports that the students have been successful in convincing Dining Services to agree to a pilot to start in Carmichael Dining Hall after spring break! Great work!

Check out the full story here:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brew off!!

Click on the image to read more about the awesome upcoming Brew-off & Beer-luck:

Slow Food Tufts Brew-off and Beer-luck
Thursday, April 29
6:00 to 8:00 pm
Jaharis Cafe - Boston Campus

Let the brewing begin!

Friday, February 5, 2010

SFT & SFBoston present "The End of the Line" this Sunday

Slow Food Tufts & Slow Food Boston are proud to present "The End of the Line," as part of SFB's 3rd annual film series, this Sunday, Feb. 7 at 3:30 pm. 

Grilling beautiful tuna steaks. The ubiquitous shrimp cocktail. Polluted fish farms. Mercury. Omega 3 fatty acids. Fishing quotas. Ouch - purchasing & consuming seafood has never been so rife with conflict as it is now. Well, we're trying to help - the next film in our 3rd Annual Winter Film Series might, if we're lucky, provide more insight.

This somewhat unnerving documentary The End of the Line explores issues like those above in what the LA Times called a "...crisp, informative and convincing way..." The NY Times says, despite some flaws, that it "...subverts our ancient faith in the ocean as an inexhaustible resource, offering a persuasive case that the major species of edible fish are headed for extinction."

Join us for this in-depth look at current research and thoughts on our oceans, the fish that populate them and the people whose livelihoods depend on them. Oh, not to mention the effects all of it has on those of us on the other end of the chain: the consumers!

Our post-film panel includes founder of 'Teach a Man to Fish,' writer Jacqueline Church, director ofconservation at the New England Aquarium Heather Tausig and activist Niaz Dorry, who works with groups such as Cape Ann Fresh Catch and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. They will help us learn about issues facing the New England coastline, our local fishing industries and the mouths that depend on th


Please do join us and our co-sponsor, Slow Food Boston, for this eye-opening and thought-provoking film. Cost is $5, payable at the door by cash or check.

Posner Hall at Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition is located at 200 Harrison Avenue, off

 of Kneeland Street. It is close to Chinatown, the Theater district and the New England Medical Center.

Closest public transport options are the Orange Line NE Medical Center stop, Silver Line SL4 & SL5 stop on Washington St @ the Medical Center, as well as the Green Line Boylston St stop. South Station is also in the vicinity. Street parking is limited in the area, but there are garages on Washington Street.

A Google map of the area can be found HERE.