Slow Food Columbus Blog

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Archive for the ‘Food organizations’ Category

Veggie U

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culinary vegetable institute huron ohio

On a recent visit to The Chef’s Garden I also had the opportunity to learn about their non-profit Veggie U. Based in Milan Ohio, just down the road from the Chef’s Garden, Veggie U is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit, that was established by the Jones Family in 2003. It shares space with the Culinary Vegetable Institute which offers retreats and educational opportunities for chefs as well as Earth to Table dinners and cooking classes open to the public.

The inspiration for Veggie U came from a belief that diet is a big factor in many of the diseases afflicting our youth in increasing numbers (obesity, diabetes etc). The Jones Family partnered with local chefs, educators, a nutritionist and a physician to design the program. The mission is to promote the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle.

Veggie U is a curriculum designed to empower children and to teach them that they have choices in the food they eat. The curriculum includes all of the materials needed to teach hands on lessons covering healthy nutrition, sustainable agriculture and state-required plant studies. Veggie U is targeted at fourth grade and can also be used for home school.  The program takes 5 weeks. It is designed to teach proficiencies in science, math, health and nutrition.

Veggie U is ‘dedicated to changing children’s eating habits one classroom at a time’ and the curriculum is currently being taught in 1800 schools around the country.

veggie U teaching children about their food

Farmer Lee Jones explains the classroom kit

A $450 donation can put an Earth to Table™ science program kit in a classroom and a donation of $225 allows the teacher to host the program a subsequent year with a refill kit. The kit comes complete with seeds, soil, flats, root view boxes, grow lights and a worm farm. Equipment that is designed to let the kids see, feel and taste the whole process of planting, growing and harvesting vegetables.

Veggie U’s goal is to expand the program to include all 6,500 fourth grade classrooms in Ohio and the 93,000 fourth grade classrooms nationwide.


Written by hungrywoolf

September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Bienvenidos, Rick Bayless

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For most people, April 15 is tax day.  For us this year, April 15 was a little more tense:  It was the day we’d been asked to host a reception for Master Chef Rick Bayless when he came to town for a charity event with WOSU.  A modest little reception… all we needed to do was have some tasty Mexican food on hand.

For a James Beard National Chef of the Year with seven Mexican cookbooks to his name.

We called in the pros.

Rick Bayless with Quicho

When Local Matters contacted us to help with hospitality and promotion, we contacted to find someone who could provide a suitable Mexican food offering in the spirit of the event. Tacotruckscolumbus contacted Quicho, the ever-helpful owner of Taco Nazo, who said, “125 tamales and a couple of cakes by next week? No problem!”

It was a lot to coordinate, and timing was tight.  Success depended on everyone pulling their weight and making the right things happen at the right time.  No pressure… it’s just Rick Bayless… !

The results, if we may be permitted a moment of boastfulness on behalf of all involved, were pretty cool.  Chef Bayless’ time with us was slim, but due to Local Matter’s organizational efficiency, everyone who wanted a signed book got one.  Quicho’s tamales were a hit, not just with the attendees but with the Chef himself.  And, Quicho’s cakes prompted our celebrity guest to take a quick snapshot (which he then proceeded to tweet).

Most of all, though, we got the impression that our guest enjoyed himself.  We can only imagine how many cookbooks the Chef must have signed at events like these by this point, but we’re hoping to have given him a fond memory of this one.

In addition to the aforementioned participants, we’d like to thank the North Market for providing their Dispatch Kitchen for the event, North Market Poultry & Game for the Amish chicken that was incorporated into the tamales, and WOSU for their involvement in bringing Chef Bayless to our fair city in the first place.

Written by tacodrew

April 16, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Fair Food – Fair Wages

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This week (November 18th-November 26th) is National Supermarket Week of Action, part of the Campaign for Fair Food. As one of the biggest feasts of the year Thanksgiving is an appropriate time for us to remember the workers who produce our food and thank them for their labor by helping to ensure that they receive fair wages and working conditions.

You may remember that earlier this year we wrote about slavery issues in Florida’s tomato fields but concerns about fair wages for farm workers are not limited to tomato fields. Farmworkers in the US earn approximately $11,000 a year. Their real wages have not risen in over 30 years.

Kroger is one of the grocery chains that is being targeted as part of a campaign to address the sub-poverty wages and human rights abuses faced by farmworkers who harvest their tomatoes. If you shop at Kroger please consider printing off one of the store manager letters and taking it with you when you next shop there. Tell Kroger that you support fair wages and working conditions for farmworkers. The more Kroger (and other companies) hear from consumers that this is a priority the more it creates a demand.

The Fair Food project aims to promote a more socially just food system. Their website includes a multimedia presentation called “Fair Food: Field to Table” which comprises three short videos that give more background and information on the issue and fair food movement. The first video deals with the realities for many farmworkers today, the second shows a model of good practice farm labor conditions and the third focuses on advocates and businesses at the forefront of the movement. I highly recommend watching them.

More information can also be found at the Alliance for Fair Food, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Project whose website  has a list of resources and suggestions for farmers, consumers, businesses and teachers. Here are the suggestions for consumers:

  • Buy local, buy direct, and get to know your farmer! When you have a personal relationship with a farmer it is easier to talk about workplace conditions on the farm.
  • Buy Fair Trade labels when possible.  By purchasing fair trade certified products you show support for workers and farmers all over the world and support the growing movement for domestic fair trade in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Join a CSA.  By being a member of a farm, you can get to know the farmer personally, and can meet the workers for yourself.  You can let your farmer know it is important to you for the farm to provide good labor conditions.
  • Talk with other people.  Potluck, share food, and share the stories behind the food: Where did it come from? Who grew it? What are working conditions like? Getting others thinking about these issues is crucial.
  • Get involved in local organizations.  Fair trade could be a great issue for sustainability groups or community groups.  Go to a meeting and see who else is interested in working with you.
  • Get in touch with a local farmworker organization to learn more about the issues in your area. Host an event such as a film screening or art exhibit, and have members of the organization come present beforehand.
  • Educate others.  Take a look at our Be an Educator section to learn more about how you can give a presentation and teach others about the issues.

Written by hungrywoolf

November 19, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Local Foods Roundtable

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The Local Foods Roundtable was held at the Ohio Department of Agriculture on Thursday November 12th. We were very pleased to be part of the Roundtable because it mirrored our own idea for a Local Food Summit but at a state level rather than just Central Ohio. We were even more pleased that the event attracted over 100 people. The day’s conference included a number of break out sessions covering topics such as innovative local food distribution, marketing and outreach, small scale processing, building partnerships in food policy and engaging economic development in local food and agriculture. It was inspiring to hear some of the stories around the state including some fantastic initiatives in Knox County, Athens County and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga area.

There were also opportunities during the day for informal networking including the Slow Food Columbus reception at the end of the day, which we volunteered to host in the hopes of fostering more connections and opportunities for dialogue. Participants at the conference were from a wide variety of organizations, OSU extension, universities, businesses and non-profits and represented many geographic areas of the state as well as different parts of the local food economy.


Congratulations to Amalie Lipstreu (senior program manager for sustainable agriculture) for planning and co-ordinating the event and thank you to everyone who participated. We hope that there will be many more opportunities for networking, collaboration and discussion in the future. Now the challenge is how to build and maintain connections between groups that could work together on common aims or assist each other with skills, contacts and experience.


We had hoped to showcase and serve Ohio wine and cheese but after months of wrangling about permits we were frustrated to find out that we would be unable to serve wine. We did not know that Ohio had any partly dry counties left.  It does.  (Guess where the Department of Agriculture is located?). We did serve some delicious local products though including bread from the Eleni Christina bakery (owned by Slow Food member Kent Rigsby), ramp crackers from Integration Acres and flax seed crackers Stan Evans bakery in Grandview, roasted Wayward Seed Farm Chioggia and golden beets and local apple cider. Many thanks to Blue Jacket Dairy for donating some of their fabulous cheeses for the reception: herb chevre, Ludlow, pumpkin quark and a variety of cheese curds.


Written by hungrywoolf

November 16, 2009 at 8:20 pm

WCBE Coffee Klatch: Locavorism

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Many of you will have read about our attempts to compile a food organizations database as a preliminary step toward holding a food summit later this year. It was therefore with interest that we attended WCBE‘s coffee klatch on locavorism. The topic of this klatch was timely with the showing of Food Inc. and Polycultures this week, so it was disappointing that there were fewer than 20 people in the audience.

Slow Food Columbus was not represented on the panel, but made up a significant proportion of the audience and whilst Slow Food’s focus is on ‘Good, Clean and Fair’ food, I believe that there is a lot of common ground between these ideals and eating locally.

I thought that some of you who were unable to attend might be interested in who spoke and where you can find out more information about their organizations. Some of the same speakers will also be speaking at the Drexel theatre with Wednesday, in conjunction with a showing of Food Inc., so if you missed the preview last week, it is a good opportunity to see it.

The speakers at the Coffee Klatch (from left to right in the photo above) were:

Michael Jones – Local Matters.
Chuck Lynd – Clintonville Community Market
Nick Dekker – Wild Goose Creative and ‘Breakfast with Nick’
Maureen Metcalf – Earth Touch
Warren Taylor – Snowville Creamery
Lisa Dillman – Restaurant Widow
Jaime Moore – Wayward Seed

Each speaker was given time to talk about their organization, plans, goals and initiatives.

Michael Jones described Local Matters as the local food folks and talked about their education work in schools as well as trying to increase access to healthy foods both in schools and in the community. He also talked about the role of the Greener Grocer in creating a market opportunity for local farmers. Local Matters has a new restaurant membership initiative. To join, restaurants have to commit to using at least 2 local items on their menu from May-October. Michael admitted that this was a low bar, but described it as a starting point.

Chuck Lynd introduced the Clintonville Community Market with some history of the market. He highlighted the advantages of being a small local grocery store. The market has over 80 local vendors and is open 364 days a year from 8am-10pm.

Nick Dekker described the work of Wild Goose Creative, a community arts organization which hosts a wide variety of events including a monthly series called ‘Too Many Cooks’ which promotes the culinary arts. Nick also writes a food blog about different breakfast places in Columbus and wherever his travels take him.

Maureen Metcalf was representing Earth Touch, an organization whose theme is people being in harmony with nature. As well as trying to get people to connect with nature through wildlife preserves and life skills in wild areas, they are also trying to make ‘nature’ available in the city. Earth Touch is also concerned with healthy food for the community and is involved with Cafe Bella‘s Giving Garden. This sounds like a fantastic project. Vince Withers at Cafe Bella (in Clintonville) has a garden next to his restaurant and grows plants to give out to families at the food pantry so that they can grow their own garden.

Warren Taylor is the indefatigable owner of Snowville Creamery and an enthusiastic dairy proponent. Warren explained that he started Snowville Creamery because he was disgusted in the milk choices available in local grocery stores. Snowville milk is ‘milk as good as it was 50 years ago and an unchanged from the cow as possible’. He also spoke passionately about his wider food philosophy. Warren said that he agrees with the movie Food Inc. that we vote with our food dollars every day, but the choices need to be there. We won’t change the world until we can change what is on the shelves at Kroger’s.

You can read about Slow Food Columbus’s tour of Snowville Creamery on our recent tour to Athens.

Lisa Dillman has a well established food blog with a wide and loyal readership. Her blog gives a lot of information about local events, farmers markets and opportunities to eat locally. Lisa feels that she plays an important role in educating consumers about where to shop, what to buy and how to cook local produce.

Jaime Moore told us the story of Wayward Seed Farm. She and her ‘partner in life’ Adam Welly started Wayward Seed Farm four years ago as a 1 acre plot. They wanted to supply restaurants but soon realized that they would also need to sell directly to consumers and started going to the North Market farmers market. Wayward seed grow over 100 different products and focus on more unusual or heirloom varieties. They now farm over 30 acres in 3 counties and sell at a number of different markets. They also have a very successful CSA program.

One interesting information that came out of the Q&A session was that $35bn are spent on food in Ohio annually, but only 1% of that is spent on food that is actually grown in Ohio. Warren Taylor spoke at length about the definition of local food, proposing that it differs depending on the product and that there is a toss up between quality, freshness and distance.

Other groups and organizations that were mentioned were:
Ohio Department of Agriculture, Food Policy Council (founded 2007)
Four Seasons City Farm
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)
Justice Gardens
LocalFoodColumbus (another blog)
Simply Living

Written by hungrywoolf

July 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm