On Labor Day, September 1, 2008, 250 students and young farmers, cooks, artisans and activists gathered in San Francisco’s Dolores Park for an Eat-In, closing five days of events that took place under the banner of the Youth Food Movement at Slow Food Nation. This “political potluck” celebrated the emerging grassroots movement of young people working to bring their campuses and communities more good, clean and fair food and demonstrated that changing the way we eat can be simple, joyous and accessible to everyone.
Over the weekend, teams of young people who had come from all over the country to participate in Slow Food Nation divided into “cooking teams” and, with produce sourced from local farmers’ markets and the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden, prepared food in home and professional kitchens all over the city. On Labor Day, they brought their dishes to Dolores Park and set them on a long, beautiful table curving around the park’s upper rim. Jim Denevan, founder of Outstanding in the Field, designed the Eat-In table and brought his son, Brighton, who contributed tomatoes and squash from his own garden.
Before sitting down, everyone gathered on a grassy slope to hear stories and inspiration from leaders in the Youth Food Movement. Jim Denevan, Jered Lawson of Pie Ranch, Bryant Terry, Melina Shannon-DiPietro of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, Sam Levin of Project Sprout, Laura Hess of Dunbar Farms, Trevor Paque of MyFarm, Meghan Cohorst of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, Genya Erling of Slow Food UW-Madison, Greg Boulos of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Michael Dimock of Roots of Change’s Food Declaration, Tim Galarneau of the Real Food Challenge and Josh Viertel of Slow Food USA all spoke from an impromptu soapbox stage built by Steve Kim and Adam Reineck of the design firm IDEO. Following these calls to action, Dave Prior and Gordon Jenkins, organizers of the Eat-In, asked everyone in attendance to pledge to make a small change in his or her own life to help build a good, clean and fair food system. These pledges were written on a giant tablecloth made of organic cotton grown in the U.S., donated by Native Organic. They’re an inspiring collective vision: a list of the pledges is posted on Slow Food USA’s website and photos of the tablecloth are posted on the Youth Food Movement photo album.
Then everyone sat, introduced themselves and broke bread (and salad, and soup, and Devil’s Gulch Ranch pork, and Pie Ranch pie baked by students at Mission High School). As the closing event of Slow Food Nation, the Eat-In was an opportunity for the generation of young people who are inheriting the food system to make a very public statement about their commitment to engaging their campuses and communities in the movement to bring more people good, clean and fair food.
Thank you to the supporters of the Slow Food Nation Eat-In:
California Culinary Academy
County Line Farm
Devil’s Gulch Ranch
The Edible Schoolyard
Everything Under the Sun
Far West Fungi
Frog Hollow Farm
Green Gulch Farm
Happy Girl Kitchen
La Cense Beef
Marin Roots Farm
Outstanding in the Field
The Slow Food Nation Victory Garden
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