The Slow Food Movement

The Slow Food Movement

Part of Ep. 1602 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Visit Troy community gardens and learn about Slow Food movement with Susan Bolt of the local Madison chapter of the Slow Food movement. The movement focuses on all types of high-quality unique tasting foods that are being lost in out culture. Success stories include growing sorghum molasses, heirloom vegetables, producing heirloom root beer. Ryan also takes a closer look at plastic pots.

Premiere date: May 14, 2008

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
I'm looking through a listing of heirloom vegetables being preserved by the Slow Food movement. What's great fun is I recognize an awful lot of these vegetables. I've grown them. Heirloom lettuce, Grandpa Meyers. Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato. Some of these are wonderful and the stories behind them are fantastic, too. I'm with Susan Bolt of the local Madison, Wisconsin chapter of the Slow Food movement. And we're at Troy Gardens, a very active community garden. We're here to talk about the Slow Food movement. Susan, is this just heirloom vegetables?  Is that what the focus of this movement is? 

Susan:
Oh, no, the Slow Food movement focuses on meats, breeds of animals. It focuses on breads, beverages, fruits, all types of food.

Shelley:
These are usually heirloom, or old-fashioned, or what makes them special? 

Susan:
They're special because they're of high quality really high quality. It's something that you want to preserve them and enjoy them for their unique tastes.

Shelley:
Which of course includes a lot of heirlooms, and things that are kind of being lost in our culture and our tradition. Let's talk about some of your success stories. One of the things, oddly enough, on your list is Sorghum Molasses. I've grown Sorghum as an ornamental grass in my yard. I didn't know it was a crop in Wisconsin.

Susan:
It is indeed a crop and one that we're at risk of losing. So, what we did was, we had gotten a request from a local producer to see if we could help preserve that tradition. So we were working with a local museum on the growing, the processing, cooking. And actually there's an annual festival now.

Shelley:
We can go to Fall River, Wisconsin, to buy locally-produced Sorghum Molasses and even attend this festival.

Susan:
Right.

Shelley:
Excellent. I love the idea. And I think vegetables, I'm a gardener. But heirloom root beer? 

Susan:
Well, it's artisanal root beer. And it is made in small quantities. It was nominated for an award. It was ranked against other root beers and it merited recognition.

Shelley:
So, special attention and an effort to keep it around.

Susan:
Right.

Shelley:
And this is from Seymour, Wisconsin.

Susan:
Right.

Shelley:
Okay, now we get into my realm. Heirloom vegetables. These are Amish Paste, one of my favorites.

Susan:
Amish Paste is an interesting story in that it was at risk and threatened. And it was promoted. We've encouraged local gardeners to grow them. And as a result, you can now find them at farmer's markets, and buy them.

Shelley:
In your backyard.

Susan:
Local restaurants are even using them now.

Shelley:
Local restaurants are involved in the Slow Food movement? 

Susan:
They pledge to try to use local produce?  That is one aspect of it. They also host events that feature these very special foods.
Shelley:
Okay so you encourage people, not just gardeners but to grow this stuff or to purchase it whether it's the Sorghum or the root beer. That's partially how we're keeping this stuff alive is by keeping it active.

Susan:
We're keeping it in the public eye by eating it.

Shelley:
Hey, that works for me!  And this is a Wisconsin pepper.

Susan:
Right, it is the Beaver Dam Pepper that was brought here in the late 1920s. It's a mildly hot pepper, and we are promoting its use.

Shelley:
Excellent. There's a lot going on with Slow Foods. One of the activities you folks are also doing involves a Sister City in Italy. Right, Montova is our Sister City. When we were looking for a citizen-to-citizen partnership we noticed their Slow Food group. We contacted them. And as a result, we are sharing some of the foods that are special for our areas. For example, the students at a local school garden are growing the Amish Paste Tomato. This is in Italy they're growing our Amish Paste Tomato. And what are you growing here?  We're growing a Chicory.

Shelley:
From Italy.

Susan:
We're sharing traditions and tastes from across the ocean.

Shelley:
I love it!  What people do if they think they've got something that is a produce or an heirloom chicken in some part of Wisconsin that they think is worth saving? 

Susan:
They should contact us at our Web site.

Shelley:
All right, Susan, thank you. I can't wait to grow some of this stuff and to continue discovering more.

Susan:
Thanks.

Shelley:
Thank you.

A Closer Look at Pots

Shelley:
Plastic pots are another option. They've improved a great deal both in looks and durability. Some look almost like terra cotta or stone, or ceramic. They come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. They're affordable, and they're lightweight making them much easier to lug around the backyard even with plants in them. Because the plastic walls are impenetrable to water you don't have to water as often. Also, they can be left outside in the wintertime. On the downside, because they're so lightweight plantings may blow over in a strong wind. I have a lemon tree that spends half the summer on its side!

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