Go Fair Trade Chocolate!

With Halloween just around the corner, Slow Food couldn’t help but be thinking about sweets. This week, Maria, Doug, and I ran a table in the Memorial Union to educate students about the importance of buying fair trade items. Given the time of year we decided to focus on chocolate. If you aren’t familiar with what fair trade is, you may have noticed some specialty food items that have started to bear the Fair Trade stamp and wondered what it meant. In short, fair trade works towards creating a sustainable global economic system. It ensures that the payment of producers in developing countries is fair, in an effort to support the rights of worker’s, eliminate poverty, and protect the environment.



Taza Chocolate, an organic and fair trade chocolate company from Somerville, MA was nice enough to donate samples of a few varieties of their chocolate to Slow Food URI. Taza goes about making their chocolate in a very unique way. They not only produce their chocolate straight from the bean using a traditional method of stone grinding, but they’ve hand selected cooperatives to work with in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the DR that grow cacao sustainably and organically. Lastly, as a part of their Direct Trade principles, Taza made it a commitment to maintain direct relationships with their cacao producers, to only purchase cacao beans from producers using fair and humane work practices, and to pay their cacao farmers a minimum of 500 US Dollars/metric ton more than the current NYBOT price for cacao beans. There isn’t a step of their process that they didn’t put a lot of thought into. Visit Taza’s website to read the story about how their passion to create a socially responsible chocolate bar using traditional techniques began: http://www.tazachocolate.com/AboutUs



Also of interest to us Slow Foodies, was the fact that Taza’s technique of stone grinding (and minimal processing) helps to keep the health benefits of the cacao beans in tact. This process also gives their chocolate a unique texture. Chocolate is often touted for offering a host of health benefits to those who indulge. However, for all you chocolate lovers out there, be aware that your average chocolate bar has been through so many steps of processing that most of the vitamins and minerals that were once present have been lost along the way. But, as I’m sure you are gathering by now, Taza makes anything but your average chocolate bar.  Lastly, their chocolate is dairy, soy and gluten free! So vegans – have at it! If you’re not vegan, buy some for your friends that are lactose intolerant or have Celiac Disease. Or, simply consider handing out some socially responsible chocolate this year for Halloween.

To learn more about Fair Trade and to seek out other businesses that are sourcing their products in a socially responsible way, check out Fair Trade USA’s webpage: http://www.fairtrade.net/products.html

-Charlotte

Food Day Celebration

We enjoyed some very beautiful fall weather as a group on Monday while apple picking.  We were able to pick from a few varieties such as Macouns, Macintosh, and Courtland…..  The Courtland apples were bright shiny red after wiping the coating off of the apple.  Biting into the shiny peel with a loud crunch revealed the meat of the apple bursting with a crisp flavor.  When you go apple picking, I highly suggest these apples for snacking on.  We picked these apples for our Food Day apple taste test that was held on Thursday, October 20th on the quad at URI.  Slow Food URI  hosted a farmers market from 11-2.  The following vendors joined us in our celebration of Food Day:  The Coffee Guy, Good Harvest, Tallulah Taco, Bravo Pizza and Like No Udder. 

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URI students flooded the quad visiting and purchasing some yummy goods from the venders. Students also visited our Slow Food booth where they participated in our taste test.  They had to try a piece of an apple from the supermarket Stop and Shop and then try a piece of the apple we picked from the farm.  They had to tell us which apple they enjoyed more, and which one they thought was local.  The competition of which apple was better were neck and neck…and we were surprised. Some comments people made about the local apples were:  juicy, sweet, firm, crisp.  Comments made about the apples from Stop and Shop were weird, sour, tart, juicy, tangy, mushy/not as crisp,sweet.  While we were expecting everyone to LOVE the local apples, it really depended on the individual’s apple preference, if they liked sweet vs sour or mushy vs crisp apples.  We enjoyed performing this little experiment while informing students about the importance local food.  Hope you celebrated Food Day and enjoyed it!

-Maria

Pizza In the Garden

Hey Slow Foodies!

We had a great meeting in our garden at the Watson House.  Alyssa brought along a grill and some pizza dough and we all brought some scrumptious toppings to put on our grilled pizzas.  Some toppings were: basil, tomatoes, chicken and hen of the woods(fungi),  artichokes hearts, olives, Gouda cheese and peppers from our garden :).  While we waited for the pizzas to grill, Megan, the grad student that lives in the Watson House gave us a tour of the house!  The house and the farm land were sold to URI in 1888 by Oliver Watson and the is the oldest structure on campus dating back to around 1790.  I am so thrilled to have our garden there :).  A few weeks ago we planted again to start a winter garden.  We are growing radishes, carrots, spinach and turnips.  The radishes have already sprouted!  Soon we will have to cover the garden ground to prevent the plants from freezing.

Slow Food URI is pretty busy this semester between the garden and some other events coming up.  On October 20th there is a farmers market on the URI quad and we will be holding a booth there from 10-2 to give out some Slow Food information and do an apple tasting in celebration of Food Day!  Then on October 27th, we will be holding another booth from 10-2 in the union promoting Fair Trade and handing out Fair Trade chocolate.

So stop by and see us!

Happy Columbus Day Weekend!  And we will meet next Monday the 17th at 4…not sure if our meeting will be held at the garden due to colder weather.  Look for an email!

-Maria

Many Many LEMON CUCUMBERS!

Hello everyone! August is slowly coming to a close and so is the garden. Cate, Charlotte and I all met up at the garden last week to pick some produce and chat. There were SO MANY lemon cucumbers! We couldn’t even pick them all! I went home with a huge bag full… not sure what to do with 20 pounds of cucumbers. Then Charlotte suggested making pickles. If you have ever cut into a lemon cucumber, you would see that it has more seeds than cucumber. So I decided to make and can cucumber salsa instead. This way all of our slow food members would be able to enjoy the vegetables from our garden in September. At the first meeting I plan to crack open a jar of salsa and serve them with chips. 🙂 See recipe and canning instructions below.
Picture of Lemon Cucumbers

Recipe for Cucumber Salsa

Ingredients:
7 quarts cored, chopped tomatoes (you can peel them if you want)
4 seeded, chopped green peppers
5 cups chopped onion
4 cups peeled, seeded, chopped lemon cucumbers (or use regular cucumbers)
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded, jalapeños (optional)
3 tablespoons oregano leaves*
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro*
2 cups bottled lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients (oregano, and cilantro) in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Add spices and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle hot salsa into pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner: 15 minutes



See you in September!
-Maria

Garden Update!

 

Hay Hay Hay everyone!
Happy August. Our produce has been pretty much coming to an end here in the SFURI garden, except we do have: tomatoes, hot peppers, squash and pumpkins! I pulled out all the carrots and ate a TON of turnips and radishes. I also ate our heirloom lettuce, green beans, lemon basil, dill, cucumbers, massive zucchini and yellow cucumbers. It has been a great summer in the garden! Today I also went and picked some of the native corn that was growing and I might grill it tonight! See all the photos of our garden and produce below.
Anyways, just wanted to say this is my last blog post for a while since I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica this fall, but I will be back come December and I’ll hop right back on the SFURI train. In the meantime, be looking to our fall events (turkey processing, our annual Thanksgiving dinner, maybe a pickling workshop, food day, and maybe some volunteer farm work!)
Adios my friends and see you soon!
-Cate

Our garden!

Heirloom spotted romaine

Zucchini vines and corn.

Carrots and some green beans!

Garden at the URI Watson House

Hurray!!! We finally got a garden at URI! We all rounded up at the Watson House behind the library to get the garden started during exam week which was a great break from the studying. About 10 of us were there to turn the soil, add manure and plant seeds while cracking jokes and enjoying each others company. We planted tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, winter squash from seed. While the started cantaloupe, carrots, radishes and heirloom speckled lettuce from the green house were planted right into the ground. A few weeks after planting, Cate and I went back to work on the garden and a few radishes were already ready for picking! Cate was so excited she ripped it out of the ground and sunk her teeth into it(see picture below). I took a few home and put them in a fresh salad. Can’t wait for more veggies to come! Check back later for more updates! -Maria


2011 Food and Justice Summit

Hey everyone. Sorry, I know this post is really overdue. Katya, Nona, John, Monica and I ventured to Northeastern University to attend the Northeast Food and Justice Summit February 26&27. We had a ton of fun! It was a really great way to connect with other youth concerned about the same issues as us and to see what other high schools and universities were doing to change the food system on their campuses.

Malcom X Grassroots Movement Soul Food Workshop speaker
There were a bunch of workshops to chose from the first day. I went to one about local food procurement on college campuses, where I learned about what schools in Canada are doing to eat within a 100 mile radius. I then went to a workshop on soul food, and after that I met Hnin at her Eat-In workshop, the youth programs coordinator for SFUSA.

The Clover Foodtruck

Chickpea Fritter from Clover.
We ate amazing meals the whole time, and met lots of awesome people. You can find more photos here.

John: “I want real food because…..”

Cate: “I want real food because…”
If you ever want to go, they have one every year! Such an inspiring weekend. Great to know there are others out there that care about the same issues we do.
-Cate