Heads up everyone, the Slow Food on Campus blog is being incorporated into the Slow Food USA blog. Follow this link to the Slow Food USA blog which covers a variety of topics including the issues most important to youth food activists.

This blog will no longer be updated so be sure to check out Slow Food USA’s blog.

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By Slow Food USA Intern Reece Trevor

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve gone to see or are familiar with the new documentary Food, Inc. The film is a powerful call to action, asking its viewers to leave the theater and campaign for change in our food system. That’s exactly what Denver Fair Food, a community organization that partners with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Student / Farmworker Alliance (SFA) to secure the rights of farm laborers, tried to do at a local screening of Food, Inc. a few weeks ago. In particular, they were targeting Chipotle, one of the worst offenders when it comes to work conditions and labor rights in Florida’s tomato fields.

Denver Fair Food had received permission from the filmmakers to table and speak with audience members, but when they arrived at the theater, they were turned away by—of all people—a Chipotle public relations representative. It turned out that Chipotle had rented the theater, along with over thirty other around the country, for the evening. Chipotle, ever the benevolent corporate citizen, was sponsoring the screening and offering free admission to the public. Conveniently enough, that also gave it the right to exclude grassroots organizers from the event.

Frankly, this is outrageous. Chipotle hasn’t even tried to hide its hypocrisy here. They’re creating a purely superficial image of social conscience even as they try to quash efforts to change their unfair labor practices. Denver Fair Food wasn’t deterred, though. Nor were dozens of similar groups who petitioned outside theaters nationwide, even after they had been expelled by Chipotle. That’s the right attitude. Actions speak louder than words—that’s an adage that Chipotle’s executives would do well to take to heart.

Read the full story of Denver Fair Food’s experience here.

By Slow Food USA Intern Reece Trevor

IMG_0011For nearly three years, kids in Bennington, Vermont, have been getting a kind of education that doesn’t—sadly—appear in most school curricula. The Blooming Chefs program, sponsored by Bennington College’s Quantum Leap educational lab, takes an ambitious approach towards reconnecting young people with their education, their food, and their planet. Blooming Chefs takes an active role in the Bennington Student Community Garden, a local teaching garden where kids can get their hands dirty and learn where the food on their plates came from. Its leaders have started classroom gardens at a number of nearby elementary schools, making sure that teachers can easily incorporate food education into their daily lesson plans.

Blooming Chefs is certainly part of the sweeping trend of community gardens, but its work doesn’t stop there. Director Carol Adinolfi writes that her organization aims to promote “active, responsible citizenship” from every possible angle. Practically speaking, that means that Blooming Chefs also addresses how food plays into literature, history, culture, and art. Like most Slow Food in Schools projects around the country, Blooming Chefs relies heavily on volunteer support, and the Bennington community certainly hasn’t disappointed. Local businesses have offered financial aid, parents weed and harvest alongside their children, and Bennington College students help out as volunteer interns.

IMG_00012With support from Slow Food USA’s Garden-to-Table micro-grant program, Blooming Chefs recently published a cookbook drawn from its students’ experiences. The cookbook is impressive on its own, but even more so because it’s the result of a community working together. Blooming Chefs’ biggest strength is that it gets a remarkable cross-section of the Bennington community united to teach kids about good, clean, and fair food. Adinolfi herself puts it best: “this is a powerful inter-linking of organizations working towards common goals.”

By Slow Food USA Youth Programs Intern Reece Trevor

DSC02124bThis week, a New York community garden is played host to an impressive combination: community organizing, hip-hop music, and an important message about healthy and sustainable food.  The Grassroots Artists’ Movement—G.A.ME, to those in the know—kicked off its first annual Go Green Hip-Hop Tour last Wednesday. G.A.ME’s mission is an innovative one. It uses the powerful medium of hip-hop music to increase awareness of and promote action on various socioeconomic issues in the black and Latino communities. When the organization first began in 2001, its focus was on providing a safety net and network for rap artists themselves, but it’s expanded significantly in recent years. Lawrence James, G.A.ME’s former director, presents his organization as a hybrid of a labor union and community organizing non-profit. James emphasizes hip-hop artists’ leadership potential, saying that G.A.ME works with “artists who are trying to educate and organize others so that, hopefully, our whole community can be reached.”

Here’s where the Go Green campaign comes in. G.A.ME’s leadership was quick to recognize that dozens of African-American and Latino communities nationwide face massive challenges when it comes to sustaining a diet that’s good, clean, and fair. The key to overcoming these challenges, they say, is to raise awareness. To that end, G.A.ME partnered with a half-dozen local hip-hop artists, not to mention groups ranging from the Bronx-based GreenThumb to Slow Food USA.

Surrounded by Green Thumb Garden’s apple trees and beds of organic greens, these artists eloquently explained the personal, societal, and environmental importance of slow food as the event’s organizers distributed literature and spoke with passersby about how to eat well in an urban environment. As one of Green Thumb’s gardeners put it as she gestured to a box of composting worms, “I’ve been working with plants all my life—we’re trying to make sure more people can say that.”

Upcoming Go Green Tour Events:
Thursday, June 25, 6-9 p.m.: Baltimore, John Eager Howard Recreation Center.
Friday, June 26, 6-10 p.m.: Boston, Blackstone Community Center.
Saturday, June 27, 12-4 p.m.: New York, 167th St. bet. Gerard and Cromwell Avenues.
Sunday, June 28,: Richmond, details TBD.

For more information, visit G.A.ME’s website.

This summer Real Food Challenge and Student/Farmworker Alliance are offering leadership training for young activists, passionate about creating a just and sustainable food system. The trainings enable students and other young people to make connections, learn from one another, and grow the movement.

During the summer months, Real Food Challenge will provide 3 training sessions geared toward students who are already working, or wish to work, on improving their school’s food purchasing practices.  The training workshops include:  Real Food Midwest in Ames, IA from July 11 – 14; Real Food West Coast in Santa Cruz, CA from August 13 – 17, and Real Food Northwest in Boston, MA from August 20 – 23.  Check here for more information and how to register.

This fall, in Immokalee, Florida from September 10 – 13, Student/Farmworker Alliance will host its 5th annual training weekend, known as Encuentro.   Students and youth from across the country will come together to reflect on the accomplishments of the Campaign for Fair Food and strategize about ways to advance the organization.  Follow this link for more information and how to register.

Take advantage of these opportunities to meet other young people who are working on their campuses to create change while also engaging the staff and organizers of each of these awesome organizations!

2916395257_a056bdbef3School’s out, internship season is upon us, and many liberal arts college students are spending the next few months on small farms as interns. In her New York Times article, “Many Summer Internships are Going Organic”, Kim Severson explores the remarkably high interest in summer farm work among them.

Students from Barnard, Kenyon, Macalester and many other colleges and universities across the country will put down their books, take a break from the internet, and pick up hoes and shears.  Severson believes for these young people “…farm life is a way to act on a growing enthusiasm for locally raised foods, increased concern over food safety and the environmental impact of agriculture.”

Fortunately for gung-ho students, since 2003, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of small sustainable farms in the U.S.  More farms equal more internships!  This year, according to Katherine Adam, the woman in charge of the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, funded by the USDA, 1,400 farms needed interns, practically three times the number from two years ago.

If you haven’t secured your summer plans, check out this site or contact farms of interest directly, to find out where you can get your hands dirty, and participate in the growing youth food movement.

By Slow Food USA Intern Melissa Rosenberg

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Earlier this month, on this blog, we addressed the Agribusiness pressure directed at staff and administration at Virginia Tech, a land grant institution.  This week it came to the attention of the food community that another possible incident of corporate interference at a land grant institution had taken place; this time at Washington State University.

A university committee had selected Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a critique of agribusiness, for the Common Reading Program designed for incoming freshmen.  But, after the committee purchased 4,000 copies, the original decision to include the book in the reading program was reversed.  In fact, the reading program was discontinued altogether, allegedly due to financial constraints.

An alternative explanation expressed by a WSU professor, quoted anonymously in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is that the book was pulled “because of the politics of the agricultural industry.”  He also said that the university president, Elson Floyd “decided that this was not a battle he wanted to wage.”

Upon learning of the curriculum changes at WSU, Food Democracy Now! sent out an email alert urging people to show their support for reinstatement of the reading program.  Within hours, President Floyd’s office was flooded with calls.

Thanks to a generous contribution from food safety lawyer, Bill Marler, a WSU alum, the university will distribute Pollan’s book to freshmen in the fall.  Marler will pay the full cost of the Common Reading Program and a visit by Michael Pollan to the university.

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