Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection
We asked ourselves on Monday before we attended the Arizona Farmer + Chef connection, Do we always take the time to get to know the people behind our food? Well, today we can say we did just that. We met, discussed, shared, fostered, strengthened and built relationships with so many of our like-minded colleagues that are involved in our local food movement and local business community.
Yesterday’s conference was filled with inspiration, enthusiasm and lots of astute information. The event was held at the Desert Botanical Garden, which was a perfect setting for this colloquium. Here are some of the high points.
Rise of the Grains – A Documentary Film by JD McLelland
Highlights of the video – A quick look at the back story, history then and now and the future of grain, wheat and the bi-products here in Arizona. Showcasing some of our local and dedicated champions and heroes that are behind the solutions as well as focusing on the return of nutrition, taste, craft and quality of these fine heritage grains.
This was a great piece. We will keep you updated on news, events and the launch of this documentary. https://www.facebook.com/RiseOfTheGrains
Slow the Fork Down
Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA was the keynote speaker. He talked about Slow Food ‘s mission, philosophy and manifesto and how Slow Food is good, clean, and fair food. These are the guiding principles.
1. Food must taste good and give us pleasure to eat it.
2. Food must be clean, must have positive influence on our local ecosystem, animal welfare and support biodiversity.
3. Food must be fair with accessible prices for consumers as well as producers being treated with dignity and justly compensated.
He discussed the importance of food sovereignty and how it is equally as important as food safety. That we also have a responsibility to create leaders who care, cultivate and connect. He mentioned we must be committed to adding value and preserving our endangered goods which will strengthen our Ark of Taste products. We should all think of this as our our call to action, to menu planning, featuring these products in specialty and grocery stores, not only identifying and introducing these artisanal products but choosing to eat them on a regular basis as well.
Here is Slow Food’s mission, philosophy and manifesto.
Mission – Slow Food works to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiative.
Philosophy – We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, and the tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon the concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.
Manifesto – Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.
We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods. To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.
A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life. May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.
Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savours of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food. In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.
That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects? Slow Food guarantees a better future. Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol.
Mr. McCarthy wrapped things up by talking about Presidia, which are projects that the Slow Food Foundation organizes for biodiversity. The main focus is to directly assist and help artisanal food producers. They do everything from sustaining quality production, preserve (Ark of Taste) that is at risk of extinction, protect ecosystems and regions, recover the traditional methods of processing, and secure native breeds and local varieties of vegetation.
Terra Madre was mentioned as well, which is a global food project the celebrates local foods. Launched in 2004, Terra Madre facilitates and unites a network of food communities that share the same vision and commitment for good food production. There are over 160 countries that participate in project. Terra Madre is a bi-annual conference held in Torino, Italy.
Rj and I have had the very fortunate opportunity to attend this premier event a couple of times in the last several years, something I feel strongly about and I think everyone who is dedicated to their craft must do once.
The University of Gastronomic Sciences is devoted to food and culture and is in Northern Italy in the north-west region of Piedmont. Our very own Natalie Morris, Co-founder and Operations Director of Good Food Allies attended and earned her Masters of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at this non-profit international academic institution.
And lastly, our esteemed guest of honor challenged us to Slow Giving and grass-roots philanthropy and how we can become more active, focused and strong advocates in this movement.
So why does this matter to MDF?
Food, the pleasures of cooking and breaking bread are all celebrations. Our lives have become disconnected in today’s over connected world. Food affects the quality of our everyday lives. When you know where your food comes from you discover a personal connection. Sharing fresh seasonal, local and sustainable food brings people together and keeps us connected to the land and our community. Being intrepid students of foodways, we work diligently to share and foster the importance this has on our food chain. Aiming to promote consciousness and the effect on everyday food and buying choices.
Refining and reviving heirloom imperfectly perfect produce and bringing back long-forgotten proven methods gives us a resurgence that restores true flavor and nutrition. All the while, supporting procurement of farm fresh honest food.
Food is the fabric that joins us all. Filled with that joy and pride, we cook, bake and taste. Our customers and followers value fresh ingredients, handcrafted products with unhurried and uncompromising production methods. Committed to our philosophy, we work as stewards within these guiding principles and standards. Staying true to our roots is oh so satisfying and richly rewarding. Following this pledge is the core of our business, and in doing so, we all flourish and the community thrives. The more you know about your food the better it tastes.
Sustainability is achieved by social, financial and environmental impact and just makes good plain sense. Raising awareness is essential to ensure continued harvesting with integrity in a sustainable manner, which keeps our environment intact. Making these decisions are invaluable to preserve biodiversity. Being mindful of the land and using sound sustainable practices help us stay connected to each other, to eat better and therefore, live better.
And if that wasn’t enough…
Our crew then split up and attended some really interesting and informative breakout sessions. The sessions included, Best Practices for Buying & Selling Local Products Wholesale, Alternative Funding Opportunities for Your Food Business, Farm to Table Distribution Innovation: Restaurant CSA’s, Food Safety Regulations and Five Minute Marketing Slams. These classrooms were filled with expert panelists and constructive discussions. We all walked away with some very valuable information and great insight.
The last half of the day was set up for all the vendors, who shared their visions, passions, stories, struggles, solutions and goals. Followed by a lovely buffet and networking.
We were just overjoyed to be part of this action packed event and look forward to the next Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection.
Modern Day Forager