Experience Opportunities (2/18/14)

The 2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference will be here at Northeastern on Saturday March 8 from 8:30 to 4:30.  Pre-registration is required, get a ticket here.

Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, MA is looking for Field Crew members.  Full description here.

Allandale Farm is looking for Farmstand Retail Crew Members.  Full posting here.

Biodiversity for a  Livable Climate has a number of summer internships posted here.

The Food Loft and Branch Food are hosting a food related internship fair on March 18th. Be sure to register here if you’re interested in attending.


Experience Opportunities (1/27/14)

Become a FoodCorps Service Member!
     The application to be a FoodCorps service member is now open through March 30th! If you are looking for a position in which you can serve your community, help kids get excited about vegetables, learn new skills, and become part of a network of food changemakers around the country, then this opportunity is for YOU.
     FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. Positions are available in AR, AZ, CA, CT, HI, MA, ME, MI, MS, MT, NC, NJ, NM, OR and pending funding: Georgia and the District of Columbia.
     In Massachusetts, service members are with organizations in Boston, Cambridge, Lynn and Gloucester, and pending funding, we hope to expand to new communities, as well!
 In order to be considered for a FoodCorps service member position, you must:
  • Be 18 years or older by the start of service (September 1, 2014)
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident of the United States
  • Hold a high school diploma, GED or equivalent
To apply visit: www.foodcorps.org/app
To see what’s going on in MA visit: https://www.facebook.com/FoodCorpsMA


This summer I had the good fortune to go to Iceland on a Dialogue program, and it was the most amazing experience I have had here at NU thus far (and maybe even my life). One of the perks was exploring the unique and interesting food scene around Iceland.
At the Cafe Loki, located at the base of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, we had the opportunity to experience several traditional Icelandic dishes. I ordered a cup of Icelandic tea, made from Icelandic moss, Arctic thyme, and Icelandic birch. I’m not much of a tea person but was pleasantly surprised by its tastiness. Others in my group enjoyed a Priest’s coffee – coffee with a shot of the famous Icelandic spirit, Brennivín. 
We also ordered rye bread ice cream, which is so much yummier than it sounds. The rye bread is ground up and added to vanilla ice cream, and then a rhubarb syrup is drizzled over the top of a whipped cream tower. HOLY COW. So yumma. Not sure if the bread is sweet to begin with, but to me the bread tasted almost chocolately when in with the ice cream.
So as not to completely indulge ourselves, we also ordered fermented shark! It’s supposedly the national dish of Iceland, but our waitress smirked as she placed it in front of us as she said “Don’t breathe in, and good luck.” NOT comforting, but we went for it anyways. We all ate one piece and a few brave souls went back for seconds (I tried but my body did not agree that this was a very good idea and so the 2nd piece never quite made it down….). In short, it was disgusting. The long description is that the incredibly potent smell just overtook your sense of smell and taste and hung out in the back of your throat and nasal cavity and it took many swallows of beverages to clear the sensation. 
Though we would likely never eat the fermented shark ever again, we  are so glad that we did eat it since it offered us a unique perspective of Icelanders’ culinary traditions, which stems from a need to use all their resources fully and let very little go to waste.
The scenery of Iceland was amazing, and the distinctive food memories I also hold from this country make the trip so memorable. I do have some other food experiences to share, so be sure to check the blog often for some more stories!


A Message from the Director

We don’t need a law against McDonald’s or a law against slaughterhouse abuse- we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse– Joel Salatin

There is a growing unrest in the United States as we see our government failing to protect its people. Over the past couple of years I have seen millions upon millions of gallons of oil leak into the ocean as we waited for action, I have seen thousands of people lose their jobs and homes while the government continues to support big banks and corporations, I have seen students and veterans getting pepper sprayed and assaulted for standing up for what they believe in and I have seen presidential hopefuls revert to childish tactics just to get ahead. Salatin’s words echo in my head every day. As much as I believe that it is the government’s job to protect its citizens and to hold true the ideals of democracy, I think that has been lost- for now.

Let us continue to fight for fairness, democracy and compassion from our government, but let us also focus on empowering the people. To do so, we must provide them with knowledge and not the kind that is skewed by hatred, fear or money but that which exists in nature.

Throughout my short time working for social justice, I have found myself confused at certain points about what is right and what is wrong. Where does society’s conditioning start and where does it end? But food justice can never be debated. There is a natural order and the Earth always reminds us when it is out of balance. So if you are confused too, let yourself turn to food as it will always be good to you as long as you are good to it.

Our goal at Slow Food NU this year is to share the philosophy of good, clean, fair food for all and to educate our members (and non members!) on how to put that philosophy into practice. We want you to be curious about food in all aspects; where does it come from, who grows or makes it, how can I cook that, what is its impact on myself, others and the Earth? By asking the questions, we can find and execute the solutions with or without the help of our government.

If the government is not going to save us, let us be our own saviors. Who has the power in this country? The people, but only if we choose to use it. So let us take Joel Salatin’s words to heart and work to not just empower ourselves, but others too. And I can’t think of a better way to fuel us for change than a good, hearty meal of Slow Food.

Erin McIver
Executive Director, Slow Food NU

A Taste of Slow

Hey Fantastic Foodies!

Check out our blog post, A Taste of Slow at Somerville Local First! They’re an awesome organization based in Somerville that stresses the importance of shifting our money from big business to those that are locally owned in order to build communities that are green, local and fair!


Stay tuned for their companion piece that will be posted here at Slow Food NU!

Back to the Start

A new year (as a college student my year begins in Sept) is upon us. How do I know that? Well, pumpkin chai lattes are being advertised around Boston and the temperature dropped 20 degrees today. A new year brings forth reflection on the past.  I look around me and think, how did we get here?

As I start the year in my new position of Slow Food NU Executive Director I cannot help being overwhelmed with the scope of issues in the food industry that need to be addressed. How is it possible to cover GMOs, animal rights, food access, Farm Bill, urban agriculture, school lunch reform, food advertising, obesity crisis and on and on and on. But after our first meeting last night I feel a sense of calm. 

We broke into groups and shared the stories of our most memorable meals. This is it folks. This is how we get back to the start, by sharing our food stories and with the new year upon us, by creating our own food story together. When we all come to the table, we can make change. By honoring the food that we eat, by giving it the respect it deserves we are then in turn respecting ourselves and one another.


Eat Well Everyone

Erin McIver, Executive Director

Gone Fishing

Nothing gets done in August. It’s that time of year when practically an entire continent is on holiday and the majority of Americans get to take advantage of their one week vacation. Woo hoo! So we at Slow Food NU know that you all are busy soaking the last bit of summer in, before it’s time to get serious again.

Although you may be on vacation, the Earth is not. So why not print out this Seafood Watch Pocket Guide (via Monterey Bay Aquarium) so you can make more sustainable choices at that clam bake.

BTW– Monterey Bay tracks seafood by region. This guide is for the Northeast region of the U.S. To find the pocket guide for your region please visit Monterey Bay Pocket Guides.

Above The Influence

Most of us either have a substance abuse problem, or know someone who does. We have seen lives ruined by addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, heroin and food. Wait, food?

Food may be a surprising answer, but take a moment to look at the statistics. One third of adults in the United States of America are obese. Do you think this is a choice for all of them?

Here is another question. Do you ever crave a bowl full of celery? Lettuce? Carrots? For most I think I can safely assume the answer is no. What about a plate full of french fries? A bowl full of ice cream? Probably. This is because our brain is attracted to sugary, fatty, salty foods. In fact, researchers recently tested the effect in our brain of seeing certain foods. Using an MRI, they studied the brain function of 48 young women, of all body types, as the responded to seeing either a tasty, sweet milkshake or a tasteless alternative. What they found was a spike in activity in the same area in the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex, when seeing a milkshake as when an addict sees his or her drug of choice. This has lead scientists to believe that the food we eat has the same addictive qualities that drugs do.

So how can individuals succeed against their addiction with a fast food restaurant every 2 miles down the road or commercials featuring a free large fry with your purchase of the newest burger on the menu?

Food addiction may be the hardest to battle for several reasons, the first being that although it is recognized by the medical community, society continues to ostracize the obese. U.S. Americans live in a very individualistic culture. We tend to believe that people are in control of their destiny and can succeed if they work hard enough. However, we never look on the flip side of that argument which says that if one does not succeed it must be because he or she does not work hard enough.  Our society has a tendency to disregard the legitimacy of this disease and thus those who suffer through it lack the support they need to beat it. The second reason is because we must eat to live. So everyday food addicts must continue to feed themselves and must struggle with making the right decision of what to consume. You cannot quit food cold-turkey. The last reason is that our system just makes it increasingly difficult to eat the right things. Obesity is more prevalent in low socioeconomic communities. Thus, it is easier to feed yourself on a fast food dollar menu every day, then to shop for healthy, local foods. Many healthy supermarkets and restaurants will not open in these communities because they are not profitable enough.

At Slow Food NU we try to encourage eating as a holistic experience. If we begin to truly understand what are food is composed of and where it comes from we can enjoy it for what it is. But the more we use it as a crutch, the more apt we are to lose control.

If you or someone you know is looking for help with a food addiction please check out Food Addicts Anonymous.

All Aboard the Ark of Taste

Any animals boarding Carlo Petrini’s Ark are likely to be braised, cured, or roasted and served alongside plates of fresh, locally cultivated vegetables: perhaps a Fine Monquelin Onion from Spain or Italy’s Sant’Erasmo Purple Artichokes. This “Ark of Taste” – essentially a gastronome’s endangered species list – is Slow Food International’s most ambitious and creative project to date.

Since 1996, Slow Food has meticulously catalogued over 800 foods from 50 countries that are in danger of being lost or forgotten. The technical difference between traditional initiatives to preserve biodiversity and the Ark of Taste project is that the former attempt to preserve wildlife and wild-animal species, while the latter seeks to protect domesticated plant and animal species (namely from the takeover of bioengineered and genetically modified species). Consider it one last, delicious stand against Monsanto.

But The Ark of Taste takes the mission of most seed saving groups a step further, and puts a decidedly Slow Food spin on the project, by understanding the inextricable link that exists between food and culture. As agri-intellectual celebrity Michael Pollan observed, “The movement understands that every set of genes on its Ark of Taste encodes not only a set of biological traits but a set of cultural practices as well, and in some cases even a way of life.”

Despite the Ark’s recognition of food culture, Bostonians should know that Fenway Franks and Sam Adams Summer Ale won’t be making the list any time soon. The Scientific Ark Commission has a strict list of criteria that a product must meet, including: taste quality; cultural impact; environmental, socio-economic and historical relevance; a small production source and rarity; and the threat of endangerment.

So, Slow Foodies, take a look at the Ark here. Are there any products from your home state or country that you recognize and love? Conversely, is there something that you wish was included? Let us know!

Written by Slow Food NU member Gabriella Paiella