Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wednesday a few of the Slow Food Saratoga Region members attended a chocolate workshop at the Chocolate Mill in Glens Falls, New York. It was a very interesting and informative workshop put on by Certified Master Pastry Chef. Frank talked a lot about the history of chocolate and some of the social and environmental issues associated with cocoa beans. We tasted different raw chocolate and watched Frank make some of his famous chocolates, YUM!

My brother Ian attended the workshop with me and on the way home we had an interesting conversation about chocolate. Now,  I am certainly a chocolate lover and like coffee I understand that the acquisition of it is a bit on the sketchy side. Buying a bar of fair trade organic dark chocolate costs more than a Hershey's bar. I can comprehend that the externalized costs associated with a Hershey's bar are (hopefully) built in to the cost of the fair, trade organic bar ($1 vs. $4). That I can tackle, grasp, and make a conscious decision about.

The conversation I had with my brother was more about the chocolate workshop we attended, the consumption of "chocolates," and other expensive commodities; more or less luxury food items. These items are even associated with events, tastings and in this case a workshop (one I was able to attend because the cost was paid for by my organization). After operating in a four year institution that preached accessibility, social/environmental justice,  saving the world, and existing in moderation, this "foodie" world I am currently involved in has me thinking quite a bit.

I am also aware of the small business owner, the chef, the brewer, the farmer, and the chocolatier who put their time and effort in creating something amazing. I love good beer, good cheese, good wine. I also prefer that most food items are organic and local. My food budget it the biggest of them all, and I believe it should be. I can also understand that those who have money can afford events, tastings, etc and in most cases the money is donated to a charitable cause.

My real question is how much is too much? How do these particular food items fit into an environmental food movement that advocates accessibility.

Last Saturday I attended another event held by Brown's Brewing Company in Troy, NY. The event was fun. We had our annual meeting there followed by a beer, cheese, and sweets tasting and finally a showing of the documentary Urban Roots. The film was amazing; Urban Detroit being revitalized by community gardens (right up my alley).

So I suppose that there was nothing wrong with the event. The beer and cheese were local and money went to the film makers. I just couldn't help but feel awkward about being there, enjoying really great food and beer with an exclusive crowd of people who paid a lot of money to get in to see a movie about people who have nothing.

Recently I feel like a snob. "Is that fair trade coffee." "Do you have any local beer on tap, and do you have a glass pint instead of the plastic?" (Never actually outwardly expressed) Deciding where to grab a bite to eat with friends is always difficult (I usually have a separate stop). Of course if those are the least of my problems I should not be conflicted at all.

I just feel like I walk around with an "I only eat the best" attitude. (I find myself inaccessible) I suppose, ironically, it is because what I think is good, is good for everyone and everything (ethically, environmentally).

my continued path of self-discovery...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Next week is my first official Slow Food Saratoga Region chapter meeting. Along with the Chapter meeting is the Browns Brewing Co event. A local venue will be showing the film, Urban Roots, and there will be a beer and cheese tasting, yummmy! 

Kayleigh and I are working on what we are calling the "Slow Food Summer Series". We are going to showcase local organizations and put on demonstrations at the farmers market every other Saturday between the months of June , July, and August. Prospective guests: 

1. Fields Goods Founder, Donna Williams, a CSA of sorts that offers an affordable month by month payment plan
2. American Farmland Trust
3. Skidmore Gardens, the campus garden club
4. Food Revolution representative  (Jaime Oliver's movement)
5. Composting Expert (We have not found yet)
As far as the documentary, we have been successful in acquiring individuals/organizations who are interested. We are in the process of scheduling interviews. We were also thinking of including interviews of college students  and maybe slow food board members. We would like to start interviewing once the event this weekend is over. 

We have been in contact with local farms and restaurants who have responded eagerly to the prospect of being part of the film. Although they are eager a handful of them have been expressing apprehension. They seem to believe that they are not taking part in the slow food movement. I found this ironic because I think of them as BEING the slow food movement or at least an integral part of the movement. They are providing people with delicious, nutritious great food that is “slow”. After just a brief email conversation with one farmer, I learned that he attended a slow food event that was more about luxury cuisine that local food and community. I also share his concern with the movement. I do think the slow food movement is moving forward in a positive direction, it cannot be an elitist movement. It needs to be driven by community, living locally, and most importantly working to educate everyone and to make this food more accessible for EVERYONE! With that being said, I know Ari, Kayleigh and I are on board in that respect and I hope we can truly support those ideals moving forward. 



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kayleigh and I met last Wednesday to discuss the documentary that we will both be working on. We have certain goals for the film: We want the film to communicate the definition of Slow Food clearly and effectively to all the viewers. We want to interview people, organizations, and farms in the community in order to give the viewer a broad perspective on what is currently going on in the Saratoga region. Next, we want to cover the issues of accessibility and then finally some helpful tips for consumers. Kayleigh and I have started by emailing local contacts to interview.

On Friday, we also started to plan the Brown's Brewing Company event. We want to make sure we have an informational booth up for those who are interested in Slow Food info. We are planning on giving away some swag to the crowd and  networking with other like-minded organizations and individuals. Before the event we will be holding our annual meeting for all Slow Food Members. Because two of our board members stepped down, there will be a vote for two more new board members.

We will also be participating in a local chocolate making event. It is a chocolate making class that will be sponsored by slow food and all of us will have the chance to participate as Slow Food members. I am really excited about this!!

Kayleigh and I are also hoping to have a physical presence at the farmers market this summer. We want to have special guests every Saturday to provide shoppers with anything from gardening tips to cooking recipes. We are working on how we will coordinate these guests and  on who exactly we want to connect with.

More to come!