Slow Food Columbus

Announcing Central Ohio Terra Madre Delegates

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Slow Food USA has announced the names of Central Ohio’s delegates to the Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy in October.  Terra Madre is a conference sponsored by the international Slow Food organization that meets once every two years, with the goal of bringing together the farmers, chefs, educators, activists, and others who together comprise the heart of the international sustainable-food movement to discuss issues of common interest and share knowledge.  (For more details see our post, “What Is Terra Madre?”)  Out of the 5,000 Terra Madre delegates from around the world, only 400 are chosen from the entire United States in a competitive process.  Their expenses in Italy will be covered by Slow Food.

Below are the biographical sketches that we sent to Slow Food USA of the individuals who have been selected as either delegates or alternates to represent Central Ohio, and the United States, at Terra Madre in the fall.  We hope they’ll give you a sense of why we are honored to have these people as part of our community.

JENI BRITTON-BAUER is a star chef and producer who has incorporated the idea of local, seasonal food into the successful and delicious artisanal ice cream that bears her name.  Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, available in stores from Los Angeles to Florida to Boston, emphasize Ohio’s harvest and utilize the highest-quality fairly-sourced ingredients available.  Jeni’s talent and dedication have earned widespread recognition: she and her ice creams have been featured in a remarkable number of national publications and broadcasts, from the New York Times to Food & Wine to the Food Network and many points in between.   Jeni herself was one of two delegates who represented our chapter at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco.  She joined Slow Food at the inception of our chapter and has supported us with donations of ice cream literally from our first event.  Jeni was a founding member of Local Matters, a mid-Ohio nonprofit dedicated to promoting local food, and partners with and promotes more local farmers than almost any other chef in the region.

THE CLINTONVILLE FARMERS’ MARKET, now eight years old and 48 vendors strong, stands as a testament to the energy and dedication of its founder, LYNNE GENTER.  Lynne is an energetic advocate for Slow Food who has a unique talent for bringing people together into communities.  Lynne is Director of Nursing for a rehab hospital by day, and whether it’s due to that experience or to simple instinct, she has a keen appreciation for the value of human contact.  Fortunately for Clintonville, that appreciation often involves food as well.  Lynne also holds regular dinners in conjunction with a local farmer, Perry Clutts, that are designed to bring key urban and rural stakeholders together in a convivial atmosphere, around the dinner table.   Two additional representatives of the Clintonville Farmers’ Market—LAURA ZIMMERMAN, Manager of the Market, and THERESE POSTON of Naomi’s Garden in Ashley, OH—will join Lynne as delegates in representing the Market, and Columbus, at Terra Madre.

JOHN DORNBACK is the extremely talented chef/owner of Basi Italia who emphasizes seasonality and local ingredients in his innovative variations on Italian cuisine.  More than any other chef in the area, he has supported the Columbus Slow Food chapter from the beginning:  he volunteered his time and considerable skill to be the chef at our two major farm-to-table fundraisers so far.  As he stood smiling over a huge grill at Flying J Farm with flames licking the fresh-picked organic vegetables and grass-fed beef and said, “This is what cooking should be!”, we knew why.   John is also very community-minded: he participates in (and usually seems to win) cooking competitions, and he is a member of the board of the North Market.  John left New York City after having cooked there professionally for over a decade to come live in Columbus, and we’re very glad to have him here.

DICK JENSEN is a farmer and educator who epitomizes the Slow Food ideal of sustainability.   Dick produces grass-fed beef and vegetables at his certified organic farm, Flying J, in Johnstown, which he strives to make as sustainable as possible by (for example) converting used restaurant oil into biodiesel to fuel the machinery.  As someone who seriously considered starting a Slow Food chapter before we arrived, Dick has supported the Columbus chapter from the beginning:  Flying J supplied the food and the venue for our first open-air farm-to-table fundraiser and much of the produce for the second.  Despite being exceptionally busy he makes a point of attending all of our business meetings.  He also holds many open farm and educational events and has done public speaking engagements on behalf of Slow Food.  He supplies CSAs directly to consumers, is a regular at farmers’ markets, and supplies food to a local high school and to a local restaurant, Rigsby’s Kitchen.

VAL JORGENSEN of Jorgensen Organic Farms is an organic herb and sheep farmer and educator whose work and life correspond instinctively, and naturally, to the Slow Food ideal:  Slow Food resonates deeply with her and captures much of what she considers to be her essence as a farmer and a human being.  In many ways Val is an anachronism.  Her sense of conviviality and generosity, as evidenced by the manner in which she reaches out to others to offer her CARE program for the education of children and her annual hosting of the Columbus ACF dinners, evokes the instinctive grace of a past era; viewed differently, as a single woman in an overwhelmingly male occupation, Val may be ahead of her time.  Her devotion to organic agriculture is of a piece with both of these facets.  We’ve seen more of her in the past months than any of our other farmers and have no doubt that she’ll be a mainstay of our chapter going forward:  she offered to raise funds to help send delegates to Terra Madre without hesitation, even before learning of her own selection as a delegate.

MIKE AND LAURA LAUGHLIN have worked tirelessly to help create a sustainable food system in our area.  Mike is one of Central Ohio’s most lauded organic farmers: he received OEFFA‘s Stewardship Award, its highest honor, in 2009, for “outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community.”  Mike’s involvement with OEFFA goes back more than two decades: he has served as the organization’s President twice, currently serves on its Board, and helped to redraft its standards for organic certification.  Mike and Laura built their 20-acre farm, Northridge Organic Farm, from the ground up and now supply heirloom tomatoes, Tunis sheep, and a variety of other items to stores, restaurants, and consumers throughout the Columbus area.  Northridge has been chosen to be one of the primary suppliers for the successful and well-respected Northstar family of restaurants, which brings sustainable and ethical eating to a mass market in a way that could serve as a model for restaurants in other cities.

WARREN TAYLOR is, to put it simply, one of the most effective spokesmen for Slow Food principles in the Midwest.  As what National Public Radio called a “one-man insurgency” against the conventional dairy industry, Warren set out 30 months ago to start a company called Snowville Creamery that would produce “milk the way it used to be”—from grass-fed cows, pasteurized at very low temperature, sacrificing shelf life for flavor.  Mindful of its shelf life, Snowville sells milk no more than 48 hours after it leaves the cow and sends representatives to whisk it off of the shelves before it goes bad.  In its short lifetime Snowville milk has achieved a stunningly taken-for-granted quality among Slow Food types in our region: few if any drink anything else.  Warren himself has limitless reserves of energy and goodwill, a devastatingly charismatic combination.  He is also a relentlessly passionate advocate of good, clean, and fair food in general who immediately pledged his unconditional support to our chapter when we met him two years ago.  We have toured his dairy and farm, he has offered to donate milk for events, and he offered to host a dinner at his home to raise funds for Terra Madre.  With his milk recently debuting at 26 Whole Foods markets as far away as Washington, D.C., Warren is poised on the brink of much wider recognition.

At Terra Madre the delegates will focus on eight crucial issues for the future of agriculture and the planet, from biodiversity to renewable energies and education to traditional knowledge, and they will attend “Earth Workshops” on specific topics such as climate and food, sustainability in the restaurant, and geographic indications of origin.  They will also be able to attend the Salone del Gusto, Slow Food’s enormous tasting hall of sustainable products from around the world.  As Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farm told us when describing her experience as a delegate to Terra Madre in 2008, it brought home to her the enormous significance of one simple fact:  Local food is a global issue.

So how can you help support the Terra Madre delegation?

Well, this is Slow Food:  to support them, you can eat.  Two open-air farm-to-table dinners, the Girasole dinner on July 24 and the Shake the Hand That Feeds You dinner on August 14, will raise funds to cover our delegation’s travel to Italy.  Come join us at the table for two delicious and unforgettable nights, both hosted by Terra Madre delegates, that will help send Central Ohio representatives to Italy in the fall.

And if you can’t make the dinner, or if you (or your organization) would like to make a pledge to support Central Ohio’s delegates, drop us a line at terramadre-donations@slowfoodcolumbus.org.  We’ll let everyone know who their supporters are, and we’ll be happy to issue a receipt (we are a 501(c)3 charitable organization) so that you can write the donation off on your taxes.