Annual Project, One Seed One Community

Defend the Future Save a Seed

By Guest Writer, Hillie Salo

Responsible Consumers: Seeds are the Starting Point, Think About It!

True awareness about what is on your plate begins with the first link in the food chain: the seed that creates the plant, flower and finally the fruit.

From Seeds According to Slow FOOD

USA Slow Food’s Plant a Seed is a wonderful program, introducing young people to the exciting world of growing your own food and peeking their curiosity with joyful new flavors. Next step is to give them tools to face the challenges of climate change. 

That is what One Seed One Community aims to do, by encouraging folks to save and share seeds. Each year, a Bean has been chosen from the Ark of Taste for the community to grow and complete life’s circle from seed to seed. 

Saving seeds over a period of time can lead to adaptation to the environment in which they were grown. Beans have been shown to present signs of adaptation over a period of just three growing seasons.!po=9.57447

This year OSOC has spread to various places in Northern and Southern California. Seed Libraries and many Slow Food members in 

Ukiah One Seed One Community 

San Diego 

Santa Monica

Santa Maria

San Louis Obispo 


Silicon Valley

San Leandro 

East Bay

San Francisco



and others are leading the charge in saving the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean.

An individual gardener’s gene pool of a plant variety often is not more than what can be held in the palm of the hand. A very small gene pool indeed! Seed Libraries are a community project that gives the community access to a diverse gene pool. As well, they can give low income, first time and community gardeners the potential to bring fresh healthy food into their lives. 

In the circle, Seed Libraries make seeds available, and the community grows and returns seeds to have a fresh stock of seeds available every year. Seed Libraries need community support in returning seeds. More often than not more seeds are taken than returned. OSOC invites the community to Save a Row for Diversity! to replenish our Seed Libraries. This year we are saving the Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean.

Slow Food chapters across the state may consider reaching out to their local Seed Library to start a One Seed One Community project for next year. Each chapter could challenge their membership to commit to raising so many pounds, maybe 2 pounds, 5,10,15, 25 pounds to donate to their local Seed Library and other community groups. Perhaps a school garden…

If you send your beans out to the community, and they are returned and grown again, we are well on our way to building a local diverse seed stock and food security. Local food begins with local seed. Seed the local Revolution!

Do you have a suggestion for next year’s bean?

Slow Food’s Position Paper on Seeds

Manifesto on the Future of Seeds

Heirloom Seeds to Cultivate the Future

Slow Food Europe’s section on Seeds


It’s Back to School Time & Time to Improve the School Lunch Program

By Keith Schildt, Slow Food California Board Member, Southern California Governor

With the end of summer comes our thoughts of students returning to school and a reminder that there is still a lots of work to do to improve the quality of school lunches across the state and the nation .  At the federal level, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) presents an opportunity to make school lunch healthier and more sustainable. The bill is in early legislatives stages in both the House and the Senate and Slow Food USA has been weighing in on key aspects of the bill. We are especially excited to be supporting the Farm to School Act, which among other things will increase annual mandatory funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program from $5 to $15 million (learn more about this proposed legislation here: and Kids Eat Local Act, which seeks to make it easier for schools to source local food (learn more about the Kids Eat Local Act here Kids Eat Local.

The Slow Food California Policy Committee is supporting legislative advocacy efforts at the federal level by Slow Food USA. For an excellent summary of SFUSA’s position on CNR, see the following link.

At the state level, the SFCA Policy Committee actively supported AB479 – a bill that would establish the climate-friendly “California School Plant-Based Food and Beverage Program” aimed at increasing plant-based food in school lunches. The bill passed through State Assembly and the California State Senate Education committee. It now becomes a 2 year bill.  We also supported AB-958, the Organic to School pilot program which unfortunately did not pass.  We now must work with our allies, including Friends of the Earth and NRDC to advocate with the Governor to ensure that he puts resources in next year’s budget to support healthier, climate friendly school food programs, including the Plant-Based School Food Program and organic food for kids.


With October being the official National Farm to School month and with Slow Food USA encouraging engagement with World  Food Day on October 16th, the CA Slow Food Policy Committee suggests chapters consider featuring a school food themed activity in October.   We are happy to help connect you with speakers who can share updates on the national and state school lunch policy initiatives supported by Slow Food California and by SFUSA and ways Slow Food members in your region can get involved.  It could be as simple as organizing a potluck and inviting a few guest speakers, including a local school food director or farmer who is selling produce to local school districts. Or perhaps Slow Food members might want to volunteer in a local school garden project for a day. Please let us know if you want to brainstorm or would like a speaker to come to a local chapter dinner or meeting to share the latest information on upcoming policy opportunities at the state and federal level to increase access to healthy, locally sourced, climate-friendly school food. More details  here. Contact if you are interested.

Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, slow food nations

Slow Food Nations 2019 — Stronger, more joyful, and inclusive with California support

By Charity Kenyon, Slow Food California Board, Co-chair Equity, Inclusion & Justice Working Group

Slow Food’s annual national gathering, Slow Food Nations 2019 in Denver, showcased the energy and support of Slow Food California chapters, members and supporters. With Slow Food California, Slow Food Russian River, and Slow Food Sonoma County chapters leading, 35 chapters nationwide and 80 individuals donated $35,000 to support food justice programming and participation of Slow Food Turtle Island. You could feel the difference of quadrupled support! Together, we answered the questions: Why Slow Food? What does Slow Food do?

Our own Ian McFaul (Bay Area Governor) worked with International Indigenous Councilor Denisa Livingston (Diné) to elevate the voices of Slow Food Turtle Island.  They ensured that the Leader Summit began with an appropriate land acknowledgement and blessing. The afternoon featured a powerful presentation of the Reclaiming Native Truths project by First Nations Development Institute followed by an allyship panel Ian moderated, including Chefs Vincent Medina (Muwekma Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone) of Berkeley’s Ohlone Café. Friday evening’s Indigenous Dinner was amazing — delicious, fun, thought provoking, and ambitious. Your support brought us Chef Ben Jacobs (Osage) of Tocabe in Denver orchestrating seven courses including local bison but also Ark of Taste Chinook Marbled Salmon purchased from the Makah tribe in Washington. And you brought us the music of Wade Fernandez (Menominee) — check out his Facebook page. It was amazing to have him join us. 

Your support brought diverse voices to discuss solutions to the inequities of our current food system. Moving beyond lamenting problems, the Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Working Group sponsored discussions of Immigration Reform and the Food System, as well as the Radical Power of Cooperatives. Attendees surely came away recognizing that, unless a food system is equitable, inclusive, and just, it is not, by definition, sustainable. But also that there are ways forward.

Slow Food California President Peter Ruddock, once again, organized a happy hour that gathered EIJ donors, Slow Food USA Board members and staff, and the food justice panelists and Slow Food Turtle Island delegates. Thundershowers did not put a dent in our celebration — those of you who missed it, also missed Northern California Governor Max Caruso’s braided hair!

The California members who made significant contributions of time, creativity, energy, and money are too numerous to mention. Thank you all!  Photos will give you some idea. Special mention goes to Hillary Lyons (Slow Food Russian River) who developed and deployed the social media campaign to fundraise through sales of our Joy + Justice bracelets. We have more for sale! All donations support the EIJ Working Group directly. Email

Photo link:


Slow Policy


Keith Schildt

The past few months have been a busy time for the Slow Food California Policy Committee, especially at the state level. It looks like we will have plenty to continue to do in the near future and we look forward to working with Slow Food USA as the U.S. Farm Bill continues to take shape. We will definitely be reaching out for member support as we advocate or a Good, Clean, and Fair food system for All. The following recaps our efforts and looks ahead to what we expect to be on our advocacy agenda:

AB626 – Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations. We have formally supported this bill that expands the allowable foods in cottage food operations. On June 21, 2018 it passed the Senate Health Committee and is now in the Senate Appropriation Committee. The link to the bill can be found here.

SB946 Sidewalk Vendors. This bill decriminalizes sidewalk vendors and places certain requirements for local government regulations of sidewalk vendors. We support this bill that passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly having just passed on a 6-1 vote in the Assembly Local Government Committee. The link to the bill can be found here.

We commented on proposed wording for the National Bioengineered Disclosure Standard – using wording aligned with Slow Food USA’s comment many of the committee members individually and the Committee as a whole, on behalf of Slow Food California, commented on the newly proposed labeling of products containing GMOs advocating against the proposed BE (bioengineered) smiley, sun-faced labels and other elements of the proposed changes. The Committee comment can be read below. The proposed rule (which is no longer open for comment) can be found here.

SB872 Compromise on beverage bottle taxes – this one caught most everyone by surprise. In the shadows of the Capitol, a behind the scenes compromise what hammered between the highest levels of the Legislature and Governor’s Office with the American Bottle Association to stall the ability of local governments to enact local taxes on “carbonated and noncarbonated nonalcoholic beverages” and other “groceries” until the end of 2030. In exchange for the moratorium, the beverage industry would pull a proposed ballot initiative that would have required a 2/3 majority of local voters to approve a new local tax or tax increase. The Governor and many mayors across the state felt the compromise was necessary so that cash-strapped local governments could attempt to increase taxes in their jurisdictions. The bill can be found here.  Read more here.

U.S. Farm Bill – the U.S. Senate passed its version of the U.S. Farm Bill in late June that did not include the food stamp changes approved by the House earlier in the month. The Senate bill passed with bi-partisan support whereas the House version passed on a purely partisan vote. We will keep an eye on this as it goes through the reconciliation process and work with Slow Food USA and our other national partners as this moves forward.


This what I submitted today on behalf of SFCA:

On behalf of the Slow Food California Chapters Policy Committee and in support of our dedication to a food system that is Good, Clean, and Fair for All. We have supported labeling GMO foods since 2012 and encourage USDA to enact policy that reflects what consumers want: honesty and transparency that puts no further burden on them to easily understand what’s in the products they purchase to feed their children and families. We believe in a consumers’ right to fully be able to recognize the composition of the food that they and their families consume. The proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (Docket No. AMS-TM-17-0050) does not support in any way that right. Indeed, it appears to be providing cover to ingredients that are the anti-thesis of Good, Clean, and Fair. I strongly urge the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to reconsider the proposed wording of the rule in the following ways:

1. Include products containing highly refined ingredients. The proposed exemption would create a massive loophole for the majority of products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, like sugars and oils, and therefore undermines the effectiveness of the standard. 

2. Use commonly accepted wording instead of “bioengineered, which is not well-established or recognized by consumers. Instead, the well-established “genetically engineered” (or “GE”), or “genetically modified organism” (or “GMO”) should be used to reduce unnecessary consumer confusion. The USDA should allow only the terms “Genetically Engineered” or “GMO” as those are the popular terms that have been recognized by consumers for decades. “Bioengineered” is not recognized or used by the public. Please do not confuse consumers. Further, put the globally accepted threshold for GE contamination at no more than .9%. This will keep our standards in line with our EU and other trade partners. In addition, if it’s any higher, consumers will lose trust in the label and the government’s ability to provide the transparency  they want.


3. Change the logos. A winking, sunny, smiley face, bearing an abbreviation that equates to a positive action verb (BE) is hardly the objective conveyor of scientific fact and seemingly suggests that the USDA promotes genetically engineered products and prefers them over organic and other conventional, non-GE foods. The smile, sun, and scenic symbolism should be replaced by designs that simply indicate that the product is genetically engineered or that it contains genetically engineered ingredients. I suggest GE or GMO in a circle.

4. Do NOT delay implementation: the proposed compliance date of January 1, 2020 is more than enough time for companies to transition to the new labeling standards. Do not include the unreasonable and unnecessary delay to January 1, 2022 in the final rule.

5. Require clear, on-package labels that do not require consumers to look QR codes, website URLs, or any other alternatives to be used instead of clear, on-package labels. The USDA’s own 2017 study shows how ineffective and discriminatory these alternatives are.

6. Enact a strong enforcement policy to protect both consumers and farmers. Contamination issues are increasing and will continue to do so in the future. Only a strong enforcement provision will engender trust in the label and protection from contamination for both our farmers and the citizens who buy their foods.

Thank you for adopting these suggestions in order to strengthen the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. By including these suggestions, this standard will better support a consumers‘ right to make informed decisions about what they and their families consume.

Slow Travel

Slow Food, Cuban Style


Elizabeth Vasile

June 26, 2018


Slow Food, Cuban Style: Happy Farm Convivium, Havana

It started with rabbits. “We fell in love with them”, says Dario Martos Gonzalez, of “Granjita Feliz” (Happy Farm), a project and convivium in Guanabacoa, a municipality on the outskirts of Havana. An attorney by profession, Dario left his job several years ago, together with his wife and project co-leader Elisabeth Frometa Mejias, to devote himself to developing a ‘proyecto comunitario(community project) that began with this first falling in love. With no prior knowledge of animal breeding, they cleared a space in their home, a narrow, two-story 19th building in the middle of town, to raise rabbits. Elizabeth enrolled in an adult learning program in veterinary medicine. Within a few short years, they were breeding over 100 rabbits each month, and selling them for their meat.

Animal protein is dear in Cuba, and consists almost entirely of locally-raised pork and imported (frozen, from the USA) chicken. Beef is prohibitively expensive on the open market; what little ground beef is included in Cuba’s universal food rations comes stretched with soy protein. Enter rabbit, a healthy, tasty, and accessible alternative, and a well-known and prized ingredient in the Spanish gastronomy that suffuses so much of Cuban cuisine.

As Elizabeth and Dario gained knowledge and experience, what began as a project to produce rabbits for meat evolved into a selective breeding program. Now they raise the animals to improve the quality of the breeds and produce breeder destined to home farmers. Face to face in the community and through local television programming, Elizabeth teaches other home breeders how to raise and care for them. Today, Granjita’s rabbits number only around 40, and share the indoor space with 3 hives of ground bees and a dozen quail. On the roof above are the latest additions to the project’s produce: strawberries. Delicately balanced greenhouse shelves sit atop the slender edges of the building’s fragile roof, the only part of the structure capable of bearing weight. Taking a lesson from the rabbit operation, Granjita is breeding strawberries not for the fruit, but for the seedlings, which they

distribute to families wanting to grow berries at home. It’s a tricky proposition in the wilting tropical heat, not the ideal growing conditions for berries. Here too, Granjita steps in with the how-to necessary to succeed, through classes, programs, and demonstrations. Also on the menu of Granjita’s offerings are art and gardening programs for children with autism and Down’s syndrome, and monthly donations of farm-fresh produce for the families of children with cancer. In this way, Granjita is as much horizontal community project as vertical urban farm.

As the hub of one of Havana’s four Slow Food convivia, Elizabeth and Dario have been joined by a diverse group of farmers, engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs with a similar philosophy, about both happiness and power. From “revolution is . . .”, a series of dicta culled from Fidel Castro’s speeches exhorting the Cuban people to embody revolutionary ideals, the hand-scrawled sign on the gate of the uneven 2-acre plot belonging to Carlos, also known as the “hombre goma” (rubber man), says it well. It reads “Revolution is emancipating ourselves by our own efforts”. The rubber man moniker comes from the vegetable garden Carlos has created using hundreds of discarded truck tires that once littered his property and garnered fines from the municipal authorities for serving as mosquito breeding grounds. Now, piled three or four high, and filled part way with strips of rubber from other tires, they form circular raised beds that allow for easy tending. Carlos has opened the garden to his neighbors, who share in the work as well as the harvest. Some of the produce is destined for the monthly grocery baskets donated to the families of children with cancer. Here, where money is scarce and buys little, the capital that counts is mostly social, the measure of success disseminating know-how. And happiness.