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Photo: Slow Food USA

Eating the Red Wattle hog to save it:
Big River Slow Food dinner highlights a heritage breed with Ark of Taste designation

The Red Wattle hog is both delicious and close to extinction, the perfect combination for Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.

The pig probably was brought to this continent from Australia in the 1700s. It fell from favor as settlers moved west, and it was left to roam the hills of eastern Texas, where it was hunted to near extinction. Small-scale growers, such as Pork and Plant Farm in Altura, MN, are now raising the hogs commercially. The breed is distinguished by its overall reddish color and the two protrusions, or wattles, extending from the chin.

The Foundation for Biodiversity, a Slow Food International project, recognizes endangered foods by giving them Ark of Taste designation. There are more than 200 such foods (plants, prepared foods, animals) in the United States. All are associated with a specific geographical area and are grown using sustainable methods.

Lucia Watson of Lucia’s Restaurant in Minneapolis chose the Red Wattle hog for “its taste and uniqueness” for her course at the Big River Slow Food dinner. The restaurant’s chefs, Ryan Lund and Ryan Stechschulte, will use the entire pig in a choucroute royale, their version of the classic Alsatian dish. They plan to serve pork sausage with parsley and Sartori parmesan, herbed porchetta (pork lion layered with pork belly and rolled in herbs), cider-braised pork shoulder and possibly house-cured molasses-and-rum ham, all atop a house-made black-currant sauerkraut. The choucroute will be paired with a sauce gribiche and a platter of roasted local vegetables.

The event is a benefit for Minnesota Food Association’s incubator farm that trains immigrants to be organic farmers in the Upper Midwest, and for Slow Food programs. It will be held at Big River Farms in Marine on St. Croix, MN. It includes a multi-course dinner with wine pairings as well as tours of the farm and a discussion with farmers in MFA’s program.

Pork and Plants Heritage Farm raises Red Wattle hogs for their hardiness and “phenomenal flavor,” according to Eric Kreidermacher, the farm’s second-generation owner. “The farm always had hogs,” he said. In the 1960s his parents raised piglets to sell to other farmers, but with the growth of corporate farms, they found they did not have enough land to compete and looked for alternatives.

Meanwhile, Eric’s mother, Joyce, began raising vegetables for the family. As neighbors showed interest, she increased production and sold her produce more widely. About 7 years ago, Eric did a Web search for a special hog to raise, and he discovered the Red Wattle. Now, in addition to organic vegetables and Red Wattle hogs, the farm raises free-range chickens, ducks, turkeys and Devon cattle.

More about the Red Wattle hog here >>
More about Big River Slow Food here >>

Terra Madre and our chapter

July 15, 2012. Terra Madre is Slow Food’s gathering of the sustainable food world. It will take place in Turin, Italy from October 25 – 29. The conference is a place where delegates can grow, learn and come to an understanding of their role in the food system. The Italian government makes a substantial contribution to Terra Madre, and this year‘s event will be much smaller than usual due to the European debt crisis.

Also because of the debt crisis, anyone can attend the conference by purchasing a ticket. Current members should have received a message from our national office with a link to a page where they can buy discounted tickets to Terra Madre and the Salone del Gusto, the huge sustainable food expo next door.

Audrey Arner and I represented our chapter on the regional delegate selection committee. We found the accomplishments of the applicants to be humbling. We had 51 applicants for just 5 delegate slots for the states of MN, WI, MI, ND and SD, and the decisions were painful to make. Two candidates from our state were chosen. They are Jenny Breen, the food activist, chef and cookbook author and Vince Xiong, a farmer with the Minnesota Food Association, one of our organizational allies. Vince is working to help Hmong farmers succeed in the organic realm.

The Slow Food International Congress is concurrent with Terra Madre. Its purpose is to approve new bylaws and to envision the future of the organization. Congress delegates are food activists, most of whom are Slow Food leaders, but a few of whom are food movement leaders outside of Slow Food. Julie Seiber, the healthy eating coordinator for Ramsey County, was chosen from our state in this category. She is one of the original board members of our chapter.

Jenny, Vince and Julie were selected by our standards committee to receive grants to cover their airfare and will have their accommodations in Italy covered by Slow Food International. They have made a commitment to participate in a substantial way in our events and work, and we will be hearing more from them.

I was chosen as an International Congress delegate by Slow Food USA. I’m filling one of 9 slots allocated to members of regional selection committees. (For the record, members of our chapter board, including me, are ineligible to receive SFMN travel grants.)

In December, we will hold our usual Tales of Terra Madre presentation and you will have an opportunity to hear from all of us and to enjoy some related food. (by Jane Rosemarin)

Apply by April 6, 2012 to Be a Terra Madre Delegate

The application process for delegates to Terra Madre 2012 has begun. Our board and standards committee encourage you to learn more and apply. Terra Madre is Slow Food International's gathering of the sustainable food world. This year's event will take place on October 24 - 29 in Turin, Italy. The deadline for applying is April 6.

There will be 2,000 delegates worldwide. A subset of the delegates will be selected to attend Slow Food's International Congress, a policy and governance meeting that will take place the last three days of the conference. The U.S. delegation will represent a great diversity of people involved in all aspects of good, clean, fair food. Slow Food International covers delegates' housing, meals and airport transfers in Italy. As usual, our chapter expects to underwrite the airfare of several Minnesota delegates. Delegates may apply for a grant from our chapter once they are selected.

Although the number of 2012 delegates will be half that of the preceding conference, for the first time any Slow Food member can buy a ticket and attend the conference and Salone del Gusto. Tickets will cost $20.

Terra Madre and the selection process are difficult to explain briefly, so I am including several links below. But to start, here is a description of the event from the Slow Food USA Web site: Every two years, Slow Food and Terra Madre communities from around the world come together to share their innovative solutions and time-honored traditions for feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way. Delegates from over 130 countries are selected by Slow Food associations to represent the important work being done in various regions of the world. Held concurrently with the Terra Madre conference, Salone del Gusto is the world’s largest artisanal food marketplace. It is an important opportunity for many small-scale sustainable producers from the Slow Food and Terra Madre networks to showcase their products and practices. Together, Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto is a unique forum about the future of food and farming.


General information about Terra Madre from Slow Food International >>

Information about joining the U.S. delegation (including a link to Application Guidelines, which you should download, and the online application) >>

If you have a product you might be interested in selling at the Salone del Gusto, please contact Hnin at our national office (hnin at slowfoodusa dot org)

A pdf brochure about Terra Madre >>

Please send Jane an e-mail through the contact form if you have questions >>

Fire at Easy Bean Farm

Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen are longtime, active members of our chapter. On Monday, their daughter's farm was damaged in a fire, and contributions and help are needed. The farm's Web site is: easybeanfarm.com >>

Here is some information from Atina Diffley:
The CSA farm of Mike Jacobs and Malena Handeen near Milan, MN sustained extensive damage when a grass fire burned out of control earlier this week. There is a clean-up scheduled for Saturday, March 24.
An article in the West Central Tribune: www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/91422/ >>

from Audrey Arner:
Those who are interested and able are welcome to come and help Saturday at the Easy Bean. There will be all sorts of team activity on Saturday, since some of the work is what they would be doing if they weren't dealing with this, like getting both external greenhouses prepped with sidewalls and new plastic, gardening, pruning, carpentry, maybe painting, cleaning cabins to ready for interns, the barn kitchen, etcetera. Needed: gloves, rakes, pruners--all the garden tools are gone.

Contributions can be sent to the Easy Bean Farm account at:
Coop Credit Union
2407 E Highway 7
Montevideo, MN 56265

Slow Food Minnesota News Archive >>

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