Spring is always a busy time for us on the farm. This past June was especially hectic. Along with hundreds of meat chickens arriving, weekly farmers markets, and daily farm tasks, we scheduled trips to Washington D.C. and Denver (in the same week!). It’s been a while since those trips, but it’s time to get you caught up on the Slow Food/Slow Meat work Jody has been doing.
Tell us a little about yourself and your involvement in the Slow Food movement.
Beth has been involved with Slow Food, ever since 2012 when she traveled to Turin, Italy as a Midwest delegate to Slow Food’s biennial Terra Madre conference. Since then, she’s become a volunteer board member of Slow Food Chicago. So, living and working with someone thoroughly involved in an organization pretty much means I’m thoroughly involved, too.
It’s more than that, though. Slow Food’s principles of good, clean, and fair and fair food for everyone are ones that have resonated with me and Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm from the very beginning long before we joined the Slow Food Chicago chapter. The work I’ve done toward a better food system includes being a member of the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s grassroots policy advisory committee, farmer-faculty at Stateline Farm Beginning, as well as presenting at numerous conference. Every summer, I speak to thousands of people at the Logan Square Farmer Market selling meat and eggs AND educating people on the strengths and challenges of sustainable farming.
In 2014, Slow Food USA put out a call for delegates for their inaugural Slow Meat USA conference in Denver, CO. I thought the perspective of a small-scale, diverse, livestock CSA farmer fit the bill for Slow Meat. I applied, and I was off to Denver (I went to the 2015 conference in Denver as well).
What did you bring home from Slow Meat?
The most important thing I brought home for Slow Meat is the knowledge the good food movement is a community that is thriving and growing with delegates coming from across the country and around the world.
Allan Savory (founder of the Savory Institute) of Zimbabwe gave the keynote address at the 2014 conference and Carlo Petrini (founder of Slow Food) joined us from Italy for this Slow Food USA initiative.
It’s diverse. I met vegans, animal welfare advocates, native Americans, farmers, herders, chefs, butchers, and epicureans. I, also, met food service executives, nutritionists, public health workers, and conservationists. All came to Denver to share meals and ideas toward Better Meat, Less.
It’s international. Seventeen countries were represented at the 2015 conference. Delegates came from as far as Papua New Gunia, South Africa, and Australia and as near Mexico. They all shared their food stories and work
Good things are happening.
I learned that the Los Angeles school system has integrated good food principles: (1) local economies, (2) environmental sustainability, (3) valued workforce, (4) animal welfare, and (5) nutrition into its purchasing policies. When an organization that serves 650,000 meals/day makes this commitment, it can have a big effect.
At the other end of the economic spectrum, major professional sports venues from the NFL to MLB are sourcing better food, locally. Slow Meat has been helping grow awareness of the importance and pleasure of conscious eating with Snout to Tailgating events at NFL games.
What is your favorite story from Slow Meat?
Temple Grandin spoke to an overflowing speaker’s tent about her pioneering work to fix the deplorable practices and conditions at slaughter facilities and the great strides that have been made. She outlined risks that single-trait selection and the loss genetic diversity pose to the health of animals (and people). Part of her discussion included comments on the decline in pork eating quality as the industry has moved toward homogeneous (read uniform & bland) genetics and how she misses really flavorful pork.
After her presentation, Grandin joined us in the convention center for more discussion. She was surrounded by foodie groupies like a rock star. EVERYONE wanted to speak with the Temple Grandin!
In one of the center’s kitchens chef/farmer/educator and Slow Meat steering committee member, Matthew Raiford was putting the finishing touches on some delectable Ossabaw Island pork brought. As soon as I could, broke in and told Grandin that there was some very flavorful pork just down the hall. I like to think that Raiford’s pork was a highlight of her day with us!
How did your Slow Meat experience inspire you?
The world faces big complex issues. Fixing our broken food system will make the world a better more livable place. There are solutions. A lot of organizations and individuals are working to enact them.
Slow Meat is plays a critical role identifying, supporting, and convening leaders in the good food movement. Tapping this diverse community of food leaders, I feel solidarity and have renewed energy to continue the fight for better food, better meat.