LocalHarvest Partners with Slow Food USA

We at LocalHarvest have long felt an affinity with the Slow Food movement, so we were delighted when the opportunity arose to develop a partnership with Slow Food USA. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Slow Food, it is an international organization dedicated to promoting truly good food – food that is, as they say, "good, clean, and fair." We like that. And like us, they believe that small scale farms are the lifeblood of sustainable food systems. We like that too.

Slow Food USA has a program called the U.S. Ark of Taste. Through this program, Slow Food identifies specific foods that are in danger of being lost due to neglect. Some are varieties of old-fashioned fruits and vegetables, or rare animal breeds; others are prepared foods like hand crafted root beer or Creole cream cheese that were once more popular in this country. Hundreds of foods have been given the Ark of Taste designation, and more are being included every year.

Together we will bring more attention to the role small farmers play in preserving our food heritage and protecting some of the biodiversity that is threatened by corporate scale agriculture. Central to the new partnership is a joint outreach effort. We are using the LocalHarvest database – now over 13,000 strong – to find more farmers and artisanal food producers who might be interested in producing Ark of Taste products. Many of these foods are quite difficult to find in the marketplace, and one of the main goals of the Ark program is to increase their availability, and thus their longevity.

We have added the Ark products to our member listings, so that people can use our database to find sources for particular Ark products. Already, over 600 farmers have added their Ark products to their LocalHarvest listings. Slow Food USA has shared descriptions of each Ark food with us, so that people can begin to learn about the history of these interesting foods on LocalHarvest. Here’s an example:

The Fish Pepper
The Fish Pepper is an African-American heirloom widely grown around the east coast in the 19th century. Fish Pepper plants have beautiful green and white variegated foliage with pendant fruits that are 2-3 inches long. When the fruits ripen, they change in color from cream with green stripes to orange with brown stripes, and then eventually to an all-red eating pepper. Traditionally, the fish pepper was used in oyster and crab houses around the Chesapeake Bay. Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5, the Fish Pepper is also perfect for mild-medium salsas.

For information on where to find fish peppers, visit our grower directory. We invite you to visit our Ark of Taste search engine to read more about Slow Food Ark products, and to find who grows them near you.

Our hope is that more and more farmers and home gardeners will take an interest in growing Ark foods, and that many more people will seek them out in the marketplace. Enjoying foods known for their exceptional taste – preserving our culture and biodiversity doesn’t get any more satisfying!

Back to the April 2008 Newsletter