Friday, December 3, 2010

"The Locavore Way" with Amy Cotler

Author of "The Locavore Way" Amy Cotler hosted a discussion and booking signing with Slow Food BU this past Wednesday. The dreary weather didn't stop a committed group of slow foodies, who listened intently to Cotler's tips and engaging stories. With a background as a chef and recipe developer, she originally approached local, fresh food from a taste and pleasure perspective.

She acknowledged that we may all come from different places in our interest in sustainable, local foods. But the benefits, to the environment (less toxic), economic development (keeps your money close to home), and personal health, benefit us all. Cotler reiterated that change happens from the ground up, that small things can start in the community and build to a big-scale change. Often this starts with a simple self-interest. "I want local foods because____."

When the issue of budget and high price of local foods was brought up, she shared some simple tips for cutting costs, such as buying in bulk, sharing 2nd offerings from farmers, and savoring fruits and vegetables ONLY when in peak season. She reminded us that grains and beans, dried, are very very inexpensive, and meat needs to only be eaten occasionally. Learning to cook is a precious skill that will save you a lot of money, and probably earn you a few new friends. It was a great way to beat a rainy night! Thanks to all that came, and to Amy for sharing her wisdom and time with us!

Looking for winter local food?
Check out the Downtown Crossing Holiday Market, Somerville Winter Farmers Market, or Sherman Market!

If you want more information on Sustainable Agriculture check out the National Sustainable Ag Coalition.

What makes YOU choose local foods? What are some of your tips for staying local in the winter?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mozzarella Demonstration

Mozzarella Making with Fiore Di Nonno

On Wednesday November 10th Slow Foodies gathered in the Myles Dining Hall kitchen to watch Lourdes Smith, owner of Fiore Di Nonno Mozzare
lla, make mozzarella by hand. Lourdes talked about her family's history of mozzarrella-making, especially her grandfather. She also discussed the importance of using the fresh, local milk, which she buys from Shy Brother's Farm in Westport, MA.

Lourdes makes her mozzarella by hand in small b
atches using a wooden paddle. This is rare, even in Italy, because of government restriction on the use of wood in food production.

After slowly heating the curd with boiling water, Lourdes had prepared enough fresh mozzarella for everyone to try.

Thank you so much to everyone who came, especially Lourdes for a great demo and delicious mozzarella! Also, thank you Joyce Chan for the pictures!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jamming Workshop

Jamming with Slow Food

Slow Food BU's Katie Enzer and Julia Sementelli demonstrated how to make and preserve cranberry jelly on Wednesday October 27th. Using local cranberries, honey, and pectin makes this recipe an easy way to preserve the fall harvest.

Orange and Ginger Spiced Cranberry Jelly
*Adapted from Pomona’s Universal Pectin Cranberry Jelly Recipe

Ingredients (makes about 35oz)
24oz fresh cranberries
3 cups water
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons calcium water
3 teaspoons pectin stirred into 1 cup honey
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh orange zest (about 1/2 orange)

1. Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water, then put them into a large pot of water. Bring water to a boil, then lower to simmering.
2. Rinse and drain cranberries. Add to a second large pot of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until cranberries burst and soften.
3. Meanwhile, prepare rest of ingredients:

a. Add pectin to honey
b. Juice limes
c. Zest orange
d. Peel and chop ginger

4. When cranberries are fully cooked, remove from heat and strain to remove skins.
5. Combine 4 cups of pulpy cranberry juice with calcium water and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
6. Add pectin/honey mixture, orange zest, and ginger. Stir immediately and vigorously for 1-2 minutes until pectin completely dissolves.
7. Add sugar. Stir to dissolve.
8. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove jars from boil water and fill with jam leaving 1/2 inch empty at the top. Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet paper towel, and quickly top with a lid (NOTE: be careful in this step because the jars will be very hot!).
9. When all jars have been filled, begin processing: Place jars in a large pot and fill with water to cover jars. Cover pot and boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from pot with canning tongs.
10. Allow jars to sit and cool until the lids seal and the jam sets.

Local cranberries gave the jelly great flavor and color.

Slow foodies enjoyed samples of the jam on New England Night bread, filled with pecans and cranberries, from Clear Flour Bread.

Sterile and safe canning practices are important.

Thank you to everyone who attended the demonstration! Canning is a great way to enjoy seasonal produce year round. We encourage you to try this recipe while local cranberries are still available. Check out the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets to find a place to buy cranberries or other local jamming produce.

Special thanks to Emily Jones for taking some great photos!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rustic Pastry: Pear Ginger Crisp

On a crisp fall evening Chloe Nolan and Mary Ting of Clear Flour Bakery demonstrated how to make a Pear Ginger Crisp

Pear Ginger Crisp
Serves 8-10

½ cup flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup walnut pieces
Fruit Filling:

½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
6 large or 7 med. pears (Bartlett work great here)
1 TBS grated fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping, whisk together first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Work butter into dry mixture until it resembles moist, coarse meal. Stir in nuts and oats. Chill while preparing filling. Peel and core the pears. Cut into roughly 1/2” cubes and place in a large bowl with ginger. Add dry ingredients and combine until fruit is evenly coated. Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish.

Scatter topping evenly across fruit and bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling –about 50 minutes. Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream
It was a perfect evening to spend as the nights start to get chillier! We highly recommend that you check out Clear Flour, a local, hidden gem. Be prepared for a very long line on weekends, but I assure you, it is well worth the wait. You will be dreaming about their baked currant donuts, and chocolate pudding cakes for weeks afterward! Thank you Mary and Chloe for taking the time to show us a simple, rustic recipe!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Carlo Petrini in Boston

Last week, the founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, spoke at Tufts and at Harvard as part of a series of conferences at American universities.

Over 300 students, staff, and community members attended Petrini's talk and book signing at Harvard. Carlo Petrini's speech, in Italian, was translated by Corby Kummer, author and senior editor of The Atlantic.

Corby Kummer (left) and Carlo Petrini (right)

Petrini spoke about numerous aspects of the Slow Food movement, which supports the pleasure of good food, while supporting the community and the environment.

Petrini began by discussing the current food system, which is detrimental to our environment. The constant selection for highly productive crops has decreased the fertility of the soil, and has caused a significant loss in biodiversity. Petrini also touched upon food subsidies, which have led to cheap food, health problems, industrial disasters, and environmental degradation.

In addition, Petrini gave many suggestions for changes that can be made. Food shouldn't be wasted, and leftovers should be savored. Foods should be eaten when they are in season, and food shouldn't be transported long distances, because this requires more fossil fuels. He also suggested that we should buy less food, and buy higher quality food.

Although there are many changes that need to be made to the current food system, Petrini noted that many positive changes have already been made. Although it was hard to come by farmers markets just ten to twenty years ago, now farmers markets are much more common. In 2000, Slow Food U.S.A. campaigned for raw milk cheeses to be allowed to be produced in the U.S. rather than just importing them from Europe, and now raw cheeses produced in the U.S. can be found in more and more stores.

Despite the lack of infrastructures to support new and young farmers, there is an increased need for young farmers. Luckily in the Boston area, there is the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, which supports and offers training to those who are interested in becoming farmers. Petrini asked for everyone in the audience who was under 30 and planning to work with the land in their future to come up, and many people did.

Farmers to be

Finally, Petrini spoke of and encouraged people to attend Terra Madre, a bi-annual international gathering of over 5,000 food lovers who support and want to learn more about sustainable and local foods and food production. The next, and fourth, Terra Madre event will begin next week, in Turin, Italy.

After Carlo Petrini's speak, many eager audience members came up to get signed copies of his new book, Terra Madre.

It was an inspirational experience to hear the president of Slow Food speak. Read about his visit at Tufts on the Slow Food Tufts blog, and another article and videos of his Boston visit from the Slow Food website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taberna De Haro

Last week Slow Food BU had the pleasure of working with Deborah Hansen, chef and owner of Spanish restaurant Taberna de Haro. Hansen invited us into her kitchen to share a recipe for Tortilla Española, a staple of traditional Spanish diets, and discuss her start in the culinary world.

Hansen was smitten with Spain after a visit during her college years, and later returned to live in Madrid. During eight years living in the heart of Spain, Hansen opened a restaurant serving American food; however, her down time was spent mastering the rustic elegance of traditional Spanish cooking. Hansen took her education back to the United States where she opened Taberna de Haro. The restaurant has since become a sanctuary for anyone seeking comforting food, authentic cuisine, and local ingredients.

Hansen spoke with high esteem of the Massachusetts-based farmers who provide produce, seafood, meat, eggs, and more for her restaurant. In addition to sea salt and olive oil (two of Hansen’s few exceptions to her all-local ingredients rules), Hansen used potatoes from Swaz Farm in Hatfield, onions from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, and eggs from Country Hen, based in Hubbardston.

Tortilla Española, one of the most popular items on the menu at Taberna de Haro, is a great addition to any home cook’s repertoire. The five-ingredient recipe makes it an easy dish for any time of day.

Deborah Hansen's Tortilla Española Recipe:

4 large potatoes, any type except golden or red bliss, peeled and sliced thin

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin

2 cups cooking olive oil, preferably Spanish, “pure” grade (“puro” in Spanish or Italian)

5 free-range eggs

1 ½ Tbl. Sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the potatoes and fry on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Add onions, stir, and continue to fry 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, set up a strainer or colander over a bowl for draining potatoes.

Whisk eggs and salt in a large bowl. When potatoes are cook thoroughly, spoon into strainer and allow oil to drain. Reserve a tablespoon of oil, and save the rest in refrigerator for another use. Add potatoes to eggs and stir thoroughly.

Heat a 9” non-stick pan with a bit of the used olive oil. Coat thoroughly. Add egg mixture and simmer on low to medium heat for 4 minutes. Cover with a plate and turn pan upside down to flip tortilla. Slide back into pan, smoothing edges with a spatula. Cook 3-4 more minutes. Turn out onto a plate.

Serve hot, warm, or cold.

Boston Local Food Fest!

The first annual Boston Local Food Fest was a smashing success!
Check out some of these great recaps and roundups:
BLLF Facebook
BLLF Twitter
Featured Festival Bloggers
Elizabeth of Don't White Sugar Coat It
Jessica at A Fete for Food

Did you make it there? What were your thoughts? Any more recaps to share with us?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Annual Sustainability@BU Festival

This past Thursday, BU held its First Annual Sustainability@BU Festival.

It was a beautiful day for the festival in conjunction with the BU Farmers Market,

and music from the Tumbleweed Company.

One of the most apparent changes in BU's sustainability efforts this year are the compost stations at the George Sherman Union, with separate bins for composting and recycling, and the option of re-usable plates if you decide to eat at the GSU. Read more articles about BU Going Green.

At the festival, Sustainability@BU gave free mugs to those who joined the challenge,

and student organizations present at the festival included the Organic Gardening Collective and Slow Food BU, among others.

Stay tuned with BU's sustainability efforts at Sustainability@BU. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The BU Farmers Market is Back!

The Boston University Farmers Market returns next week!

When: Thursdays, 12:00pm – 5:00pm, August 12 through October 14

Where: George Sherman Union Plaza, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

The vendors:
And if you haven't yet, like the BU Farmers Market on Facebook!

For other farmers markets in the area, check out the Farmers Markets Map and Farmers Markets Google Calendar by the Boston Localvores.

Monday, June 28, 2010


On June 16th Slow Food BU hosted a panel of local food experts in preparation of the Boston screening of FRESH, a movie about the broken American food system and how people are working to change it. A ticket to the event included a pass to see FRESH at The Brattle Theater in Cambridge.

The panel included (left to right) Willow Blish, the chapter leader of Boston Slow Food; John Lee, owner of Allandale Farm; JJ Ghonson, a personal chef who uses only local ingredients in her business Cuisine en Locale; and Jeff Morin, manager of City Feed and Supply.
All panelists agreed that while consumer awareness has increased in recent years, there is still much progress to be made. Consumers need to become more connected with their local farmers rather than just buying what is convenient. For example, even though produce may be more expensive at a local farm than from a chain supermarket, consumers should consider where the price difference came from. Many people might not realize lower prices come at a cost to farmers and the environment. By purchasing local foods, consumers are making an investment in their communities and getting healthy, delicious foods at the same time....doesn't sound like such a bad deal after all! The panelists also noted that if consumers are concerned about the cost of local foods, they could save money and reduce their carbon footprint by cooking at home more rather than eating out.

After each panelist spoke, the floor was opened to audience questions. Many interesting topics were brought up such as school lunches, city planning and how to get more local produce in grocery stores.

Thank you to all our panelists and guests for such an informative and interesting discussion!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fresh Boston

Last summer I had the chance to see a great movie about the American Food system, called FRESH. FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system.

In the weeks leading up to the Boston FRESH premiere, several amazing, sustainable restaurants & organizations will be hosting dinners and events in the name of FRESH, highlighting their efforts to be more sustainable.

June 1 at 6pm: FRESH Perspectives on Local Food: An Evening Celebrating Youth
June 12 at 2pm: Wine Bottega and Taza Chocolate Tasting
June 16 at 6:30pm: Farm to Fork: A Panel Discussion about how we get the food we eat
(at BU and CoSponsored by SFBU -Come hear leaders of the Slow Food Movement in Boston talk!)
June 18-23: FRESH Screening at the Brattle Theater

There is also a series FRESH Farm to Table Dinners, where restaruants craft all-local meals and then invite the chefs to the table to talk with the diners. Not only do these promise to be delicious, I'm sure they will also be enlightening-our favorite!

Henrietta's Table, June 7th-17th at 7pm:

Ten Tables, June 14 at 5:30pm:

Rendezvous, June 15 at 5pm:

Craigie on Main, June 16 at 5:30pm:

Coda, June 15-17 at 5:00pm:

We hope to see you at some of these events!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


A few weeks ago, Slow Food BU participated in SlowFest, Boston's first Session Beer Festival, with our friends at Slow Food Boston.

Session beer is beer with a lower alcohol content. According to the Session Beer Project, session beer is 4.5% alcohol by volume or less. This is the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy more beers, and the session beers were the perfect pairing to the local food vendors present at the festival.

There were session beers of all kinds at SlowFest, and beer vendors present included Boston Beer Works (Boston, MA) and Cisco Brewers based in Nantucket, MA. See the complete list of beer vendors here.

(from left to right): Boston Beer Works and Cisco Brewers

Slow Food Boston brought together the local food vendors at the festival. The food vendors included Don Otto's from Boston's South End, Sherman Market from Somerville, Cuisine en Locale from Cambridge, and Nourish Restaurant from Lexington. For the list of local food vendors, go here.

Samples from Don Otto's

Speakers spoke about craft beer, and panel discussions addressed the local food movement. At the Saturday Session 2 panel, speakers included Jamey Lionette, previous owner of Lionette's Market in Boston, Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Pete Lowy of Verrill Farm and Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds, and Jennifer Hasley of Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds and director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. Topics that were brought up included how the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project helps to connect people with limited resources who have an interest in agrculture to the resources that they need to begin a farm, sustainable fishing, ways to eat more locally and sustainably, and farmers who practice sustainable practices, such as integrated pest management, but are not certified organic.

Slow Foodies at the Slow Food table handing out Slow Food literature and samples of Iggy's bread, When Pigs Fly bread, Bonnie's Jams, and sauerkraut and kimchi from Real Pickles.

SlowFest was a wonderful way to end Earth Week, and a perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy craft beer and local food.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Massachusetts Raw Milk Protest and Hearing

In January, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) sent cease-and-desist orders to four raw milk buying clubs in Massachusetts.

For weeks, citizens anticipated a public hearing on May 10 to discuss the amendments to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 330 CMR 27, "Standards and Sanitation Requirements for Raw Milk," which would outlaw buying clubs and make it illegal for individuals to entrust another person to purchase raw milk at the farm on their behalf.

However, just 3 days before the hearing, at around 5 pm on Friday, May 7, the MDAR announced that the proposed language related to raw milk purchase in section 27.08, which would make buying clubs illegal, would be removed and unavailable for commentary at the hearing until the MDAR took a "broader look at the issues" due to "passion and concern" on the raw milk debate.

Despite the confusion on whether or not the MDAR had backed off on the new proposed language, last Monday, over 200 citizens, including raw milk enthusiasts, dairy farmers, and Suzanne the cow, gathered on the Boston Common to protest for their right to access raw milk before the hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

Protesters at the rally marched to the hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. In fact, because so many people wished to attend the hearing, some were not given access to attend, hear, see, or participate in the public hearing.

Although certain portions of 330 CMR 27 had been withdrawn, individuals were still allowed to testify about the buying club issue to Commissioner Soares, which many people did.

Over three and a half hours, 49 people testified about their passion for raw milk. Issues raised regarding section 27.08 included benefits of raw milk, the right for individuals to decide what they eat and drink, decreased access to raw milk and increased fossil fuel consumption if each consumer needs to drive long distances to the isolated dairy farms, and the economic impact of individuals losing jobs if buying clubs become outlawed. Some other issues:
  • Pasteurization was invented in 1864 and was not applied to milk until years later. Prior to that, people consumed raw milk for thousands of years.
  • Small dairy farms already go through rigorous inspection to ensure that the raw milk that they produce is safe (read the Massachusetts Raw Milk Laws and Regulations).
  • Although the MDAR states that they support the purchase of local products from local farms, making buying clubs illegal will put many small dairy farmers in Massachusetts out of business.
Numerous raw milk enthusiasts and raw milk dairy farmers testified, and some familiar faces included Mark McAfee from Organic Pastures in California, Max Kane from Wisconsin, and David Gumpert, author of the Raw Milk Revolution and The Complete Patient.

While some individuals stated that the regulations should go back to as they were so that the buying clubs can still operate, others argued that raw milk should be made even more accessible.

In some states of the U.S., such as California, raw milk can be sold in retail stores. In other states, any sales of raw milk are considered illegal. In Massachusetts, raw milk can only be sold at the dairy farm. Check out this map. Meanwhile, in Europe, there are even raw milk vending machines.

After listening to the numerous testimonials in support of raw milk, Commissioner Soares stated that a decision would be made within 30 days, and that many of the testimonials made regarding the buying clubs would be "more applicable" at future hearings on the raw milk debate as the MDAR continues to take its "broader look" into raw milk.

In the meantime, the cease-and-desist orders still haven't been withdrawn, the buying clubs are still not allowed to operate, and small dairy farmers continue to lose money daily.

Related coverage:

More Info on Raw Milk in Massachusetts:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Massachusetts Raw Milk Hearing

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: May 8, 2010* (see below).

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is holding a hearing on Monday, May 10th to review a proposal that threatens Raw Milk Buying Clubs and the access to raw milk in Massachusetts.

What can you do? Become more informed about the issue by visiting some of the links below, contact your local representative, write to Commissioner Scott J. Soares, Department of Agricultural Resources, 251 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114, and attend the raw milk hearing on Monday, May 10th, at 10 am at 100 Cambridge St., Conference Room A, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, 02114.

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: May 8, 2010*:

"MDAR Drops Proposed Raw Milk Language in Favor of 'Broader Look' at Raw Milk. Marketing Agency cites 'passion and concern' associated with the issue." Read more info here and read David Gumpert's opinion on this update.

Nevertheless, the hearing will go on as scheduled (Monday, May 10th, 10 am at 100 Cambridge St., Boston), but certain provisions won't be discussed.

In addition, the Raw Milk Drink-In demonstration will still be held this Monday, May 10th, at 8:30 am on the Boston Commons near the Park St. T Station. (More info in this comment and on Facebook). Be there!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Earth Week 2010

Last week, the BU Green Groups, Sustainability@BU, and BU's Dining Services participated in Earth Week in honor of Earth Day.

Events throughout the week included Meatless Monday at lunch throughout all the dining halls, free Bike Workshops sponsored by BU Bikes, a screening of the film Earth 2100, and a compost awareness day. (In fact, BU composts much of their waste regularly to Save That Stuff. Read more about what BU Dining Services is doing about food and sustainability here).

Slow Food BU participated in the Earth Day Celebration on the GSU Plaza last Thursday with environmental groups from BU and the Boston area. This year, we teamed up with Fair Trade Boston to bring students free fair trade banana splits, made with fair trade bananas from Equal Exchange and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Ben & Jerry's aims to expand their full product line to Fair Trade Certified ingredients by 2013 as announced in their press release.

Other groups present at the Earth Day Celebration included BU Dining Services,

BU Bikes (with bike-powered smoothies, of course!), and BU's Organic Gardening Collective, among others.

As always, Earth Day was a great success, and the students and the groups involved in Earth Week learned a lot and had a good time. We look forward to participating again next year!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April Events

There is a lot going on this month! For more details, look at our calendar.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kombucha Demonstration and Potluck

Last week, we learned how to brew the fermented tea kombucha at our Kombucha Demonstration and Potluck co-sponsored by the Boston Localvores. The kombucha workshop was led by Annabelle Ho, an officer of Slow Food BU and author of Kombucha Fuel.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and read the recap of the event at the Urban Homesteaders' League, written by Annabelle:

"Last week there was a Kombucha Demonstration and Potluck put on by Slow Food BU, the Boston Localvores, and Kombucha Fuel, a blog of which I am the author. Thanks to the Urban Homesteaders’ League for supporting this event!

Kombucha, sometimes referred to as 'the elixir of immortality,' is a fermented tea traced back to Chinese origins to around 220 B.C. Various health benefits have been attributed to kombucha, which is said to have probiotic benefits and detoxifying effects. It’s been claimed that kombucha reduces blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and even cures cancer..."

Read the rest of the post here.

*Special thanks to Darry Madden of the Boston Localvores for taking some great photos of this event.*

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sustainable Foods Video

Watch this Sustainable Foods Video by Anna Webster featuring JJ Gonson from Cuisine en Locale, Claire Kozower from Waltham Fields Community Farm, and Annabelle Ho from Slow Food BU.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Two Angry Moms" with Slow Food Boston

Last week, Slow Food BU hosted a film screening of Two Angry Moms with Slow Food Boston.

Two Angry Moms is a documentary following filmmaker and mother Amy Kalafa, who searches for schools that offer healthier school lunches. Susan Rubin of Better School Food is the other "angry mom" in the documentary, and the film shows the efforts of Susan and other leaders in the movement to improve school lunches. The film offers steps for those interested in improving the quality of food in children's schools, such as:
  1. Have lunch with your child in the school cafeteria
  2. Join a committee or coalition
  3. Survey your district
  4. Read your contracts
  5. Market your new program
Read the more detailed action plan here.

After the film, Alex Loud of Slow Food Boston spoke about Slow Food's Time for Lunch Campaign. The Child Nutrition Act is a federal law that was created in order to help meet the nutritional needs of children in the National School Lunch Program. Because the Child Nutrition Act is reauthorized every five years and is planned to be reviewed by Congress in early 2010, it is the perfect time and opportunity to make change. Currently, Congress allots $2.68 per school lunch, with $1 allotted towards ingredients. Only 20¢ of that $1 is devoted to fruits and vegetables, which simply isn't enough to provide children the real food that they need. If you are concerned about this issue or would like to become more involved, look at Slow Food's Time for Lunch Campaign.

A panel discussion followed, featuring JJ Gonson of Cuisine en Locale, Claire Kozower of Waltham Fields Community Farm, and Kim Szeto of the Farm to School Initiative.

Claire discussed some of her previous involvement with the Farm to School Initiative in Somerville. In Somerville, children only have 12 minutes to eat lunch. 12 minutes is hardly enough time to eat lunch, much less enjoy it. It is because of this short lunch time that they found that children ate more apples and left less waste when the apples were small- children simply do not have enough time to eat a large apple during lunch. These small apples are now provided to the public schools in Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston, and are locally sourced from Lanni Orchards based in Lunenburg, MA.

Kim is involved with the Farm to School Initiative in the Boston Public Schools. Despite the mere 20¢ devoted to fruits and vegetables per meal in school lunch, they have found that buying local is sometimes cheaper, and they have been able to serve local and seasonal produce including corn on the cob, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

JJ, involved in Cambridge's Healthy Service Task Force Food Advisory Board, provided a parent's perspective on the issue.
  • Because the 12 Cambridge schools feed thousands of kids a day, commodity products are extremely important in controlling costs. Commodity products are provided for free to schools, because they are excess products available from the government as a result of agribusiness subsidies. However, one needs to question the health implications of these commodity products, such as tuna, which poses health risks for children due to the mercury levels in tuna and the potential health risks from the can linings.
  • The classic yet deceptively innocent PB & J sandwich has its health implications as well. The bread and peanut butter contain hydrogenated oils, the peanut butter and jelly contain high fructose corn syrup, and the jelly contains unnatural colorings.
  • Schools are not allowed to serve water because it has "no nutritional value." Schools typically only offer milk, chocolate milk, and apple juice.
  • Read more about what JJ has to say on school lunches here.
All three acknowledged how significant Lanni Orchards has been in providing local produce to public schools within the area.

Although there is a lot that needs to change in the school food system, there are many ways to become more informed and to become more involved. Here are a few resources to get you started:
For another recap of this event, read Slow Food Boston's followup.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sugarbushing in the City

This weekend, Slow Food BU joined the Urban Homesteaders' League for Sugarbush in the City: A Walk and Talk with Meg Rotzel. Meg took us through her neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, showing us how to identify Sugar Maples.

Key traits to look for when identifying a Sugar Maple:
shaggy, grey bark, a dome crown shape, and three-pronged winter buds

We then learned about the sugaring process, or boiling down the sap into maple sugar. Meg recommended doing this outside over a turkey frier, although it can be done indoors as well (especially if you have a wood stove). Did you know that it takes 40 gallons of Maple sap to produce just 1 gallon of syrup?! The sap is boiled at 119 degrees fahrenheit until most of the water is boiled off, at which point it is moved to a finishing pot and heated to 218 degrees fahrenheit. It is then filtered into containers of your choice (Meg uses jam jars).

Grades A, B, and Meg's homemade syrup on
waffles from Centre St. YUMM...

The day ended with delicious waffles at the Centre St. Cafe where we got to taste test Meg's syrup with other A and B grades. I think it is fair to say that Meg's home batch came out on top!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bread Makin' & Bakin' with the Urban Homesteaders' League

Last weekend Slow Food BU joined forces with the Urban Homesteaders' League for a Bread Making workshop at Myles Kitchen. The Urban Homesteaders' League's Lisa Gross showed us how to make whole-wheat no-knead bread.

Lisa mixing the no-knead dough.

Charlotte Dion of Northshore Permaculture walked us through the process of making our own sourdough as well as sourdough culture.

Charlotte showed us how to shape the sourdough...

...then everyone joined in the fun!

Everyone went home with their own loaf of sourdough and sourdough culture (did you know that every sourdough culture is named for where it originates?).

The final product. Lisa's bread was so
delicious it was gone before it was even cooled!

Lisa's No-Kneed Whole-Wheat Bread Recipe


4 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. kosher salt
5 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
cornmeal for the baking surface


1. Warm the water to about 100 degrees (lukewarm).
2. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix.
3. Pour in the water.
4. Mix in the flour with a spoon. Do not knead.
5. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise for 2-5 hours.
6. Refrigerate, or proceed onto the next section.
7. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.

On Baking Day:

1. Prepare a pizza wheel or cutting board with flour.
2. Sprinkle the surface with of the dough with flour.
3. Take half of the dough.
4. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. The bottom of the loaf will appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but this will flatten out during resting and baking.
5. Gently mold the ball into an oval.
6. Fold one side of the dough in thirds like a letter--don't fold down too much.
7. Bring up the other side to meet it and pinch in closed (this is called a letter fold).
8. Place the loaf on the cornmeal covered pizza wheel or cutting board, let it rest, loosely covered with saran wrap for about 40 min, if fresh, 90 min if refrigerated.
9. 20 mins before baking preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a dutch oven or large cooking pot (WITHOUT plastic handles) on the middle rack.
10. Dust the top of the loaf with flour, make diagonal slash marks with serrated knife.
11. When the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven, and place the loaf inside it. Cover the pot with the top.
12. Bake for 30 mins with the top on and 20 mins with the top off.
13. When done, allow the bread to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting and eating.