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We Must Stop Falling Short

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:03pm

By Riva Stevens

I came to Boston in 2003 as a working chef. My days used to begin at 5 or 6 am, end anywhere from 4-6pm, and involve a different place day to day or week to week. I was a traveling chef for an internationally known contract food service provider. Mostly I ran small café’s, or catered events big and small, covering any open chef or general manager position needed. I saw a lot of food, a lot of facilities, and fed a lot of people.

Youth Movement. We were hailing the bus, but it looks like so much more. That's how powerful we are!

Youth Movement. We were hailing the bus, but it looks like so much more. That' s how powerful we are!

What I think we don’t think about is how big the business of feeding people really is, or how fast it goes. Two companies later, as a Director of Food Service, I’d gone from feeding 200 meals in a day in corporate, public retail, and school settings to over 2200 university students in a day. It hit me then the power I had, that introducing more whole grains could affect the future cancer risk rates for thousands of people, young now, but who with unlimited choices would eat anything offered as long as the taste paid off. And those college students who got hooked on whatever foods I introduced them to would take those dining habits into lifelong behavioral patterns. Kids from all over the world were coming together and I could bring all the joy of local Massachusetts and New York apples in fall, squashes in winter, and peaches and berries into summer.

I spent three years at Boston University, writing menus and developing food items. I had my own agenda beyond the base expectations of BU Dining Services. I wanted seasonal, local, and sustainable, healthful—I was a yogini chef coming from a background of restaurant artistry and my own college culinary experiences in crunchy granola idyllic Ithaca New York. Cornell had the Hotel School, the Ag School, and chefs and local farms feeding food from nearby and even student run farms directly into the university’s dining program.

Massachusetts, Cambridge, and Boston though? We were hopelessly behind the times I felt. A 2001 graduate but here it was 2004-2007 and we couldn’t even get compost and recycling happening consistently in the city, much less the sources for and quantities of local and seasonal food I had access to in upstate NY, where the growing season is similarly short.

I hit roadblocks with corporate policy in my own company and interest but lack of enthusiasm from the BU community. I was dismayed, as while I was there, never once did a student contact me about sustainability and food origins and our company supply chain. BU Dining services rolled out a Sustainability program and then spent huge amounts of time marketing these food items students seemed to care not at all about.    Without grassroots push coming from students who cared, my personal vision of the kind of on campus restaurants I felt it would be right and good to run seemed it would never materialize.

  I started my MBA at Northeastern in Fall of 2006 and left full time employment with BU Dining Services in 2007, and working now part-time as a chef instructor, freelance chef, personal trainer and a yoga instructor while I finish the MBA at Northeastern. I study International Business and Supply Chain, and I believe in as short and local as possible in the everyday of how we eat, understanding what a luxury food really entails on our health, the environment, and our economies.

What is Terra Madre? What means Slow Food?

What is Terra Madre? What means Slow Food?

In 2007 Slow Food USA, launched  Slow Food On Campus, an initiative to start-up Slow Food Convivia on college and university campuses.   Slow Food BU  officially became a BU club in the Fall of 2007. In Fall of 2008, Northeastern began to organize its own Slow Food Convivia. Also in Fall of 2008 I and thousands of other youth delegates from around the world traveled to Terra Madre.

My notes from the event still inspire me:

Slow food is a fundamental way of changing how we connect with and have a relationship with nature. First with food: then with each other.

With the passion of youth I wrote my response, in context of Italy and romance of food and longing for a certain luxury item back home …

Slow food is as seductive as a kiss.

There on my neck, just like that.

Our relationship, oh definitely redefined.

As for food, thats not what I taste,

Its flavor, all salt like you, smoky and unknown,

but I’m connected oh so very. …

Getting ready for closing ceremonies.

Getting ready for closing ceremonies.

Alice Waters said “You are the stewards of a delicious new food system, a global new counterculture, a way of thinking in opposition to the dominant fast food culture. We have evolved from inspiration into action….Now, with this new redefinition of our relationship with nature, we talk too of energy.

…Harness this between us, all of what could have been. Had you oh faithless one chosen faith. Had I the liar chosen truth? Had we risked what oh nothing really just a fall it happens all the time just a fall and power feels divine. You tell me this is falsity and I declare you desecration, but oh just one more kiss. Kiss kiss hate hate. the way I am the way you make me feel things I thought I’d given up. I thought I was happy and along came you and I am derailed passion and fire and fine set me on set me up and it all goes tumbling this house of cards this ice beyond melted blown to bits and once in a while I see a water droplet and remember what I used to want feel think.

Just another throwaway love affair but I would taste you fully before we crumple ash and die. Go down screaming soft so only you hear never tell a soul. Just another walkaway and as he reaches over and takes my hand I feel yours over my skin breathing in to my ear and I am drowsy, falling asleep in your arms gazing at his bedroom eyes behinmy closed lids.

This is about the story of chefs and unsustainability, of moments stolen like land stolen, believing luxury costs nothing. Dreams, dreams, we must build on things more real than this.

This is the kind of visceral response the movement has, the power to inspire, transform and impassion.

This woman rocks the world every time she speaks. Grateful to hear her. Vandanya Shiva.

This woman rocks the world every time she speaks. Grateful to hear her. Vandanya Shiva.

Vandanya Shiva said we face 3 major crisis’ in our midst: financial, food, and environment. 

Carlos Petrini spoke later, saying young people are the hope of Terra Madre. “This fiscal crisis will reverberate across the world, but 2008 will be remembered showing unilateralism will not work. Malnourshing and hungry reaching 1 out of 6 and cannot be reached…companies and countries could not keep up with a 30 billion dollar promise, but in the finance crisis 200 thousand billion was found in a fortnight. We should be denouncing that, and fighting mad. Completely and totally denouncing food speculation. Price of rice, corn and wheat increase fivefold. Italy 15% of income. Some places 50 or 80%. Not the same when prices doubled for Italians than when prices doubled for the malnourished.

Need to respect the ruler economy, agriculture and farmer. Value to labor, small scale production. Stay attention to those who till and protect the land.

Contraband at the live market. Yum?

Contraband at the live market. Yum?

Food, farming, agriculture, climate, energy…starting with food. Small scale is not marginal economy. The economy of nature and subsistence will save the planet from the crazy market economy. I feel like a fish speaking in an aquarium, but I could not not greet you. Thanks to you my love for your country increases. I hope that my heart will grow with even more love on Nov. 4th. From what I can tell would I be able to find older ppl in America?”

For those of you who read this and went, I ask, do you feel it now?

A few weeks ago, in February 2009  more than 60 northeastern schools sent students to to learn, network and strategiz e at The Real Food Summit in Amherst. Students brainstormed ways to get fresh food in dining halls, more campus gardens, or more critical food-related curricula, making our schools invest in healthy, community-based, fair, and environmentally sound food for all.

Were you one of those? If not, can you be? We must stop falling short and serving short term passions in all things, think more fully before we act on such broad reaching things. I leave school in May, go forth and work again on the inside of the system. Can you come from outside and underneath, banging at the doors, that we may work together to change this system? Will I find universities still now with no students yet interested and corporate and collegiate status quo in the way or shall we break through and begin this culinary revolution. I go on with torch and leave you the bonfire my friends, farmers, chefs, fellow foodies…let’s slow this food system down and make it real again, raw, powerful, and ready to fire a new sustainable food and market economy.

By Riva Stevens

I came to Boston in 2003 as a working chef. My days used to begin at 5 or 6 am, end anywhere from 4-6pm, and involve a different place day to day or week to week. I was a traveling chef for an internationally known contract food service provider. Mostly I ran small café’s, or catered events big and small, covering any open chef or general manager position needed. I saw a lot of food, a lot of facilities, and fed a lot of people.

Youth Movement. We were hailing the bus, but it looks like so much more. That's how powerful we are!

Youth Movement. We were hailing the bus, but it looks like so much more. That' s how powerful we are!

What I think we don’t think about is how big the business of feeding people really is, or how fast it goes. Two companies later, as a Director of Food Service, I’d gone from feeding 200 meals in a day in corporate, public retail, and school settings to over 2200 university students in a day. It hit me then the power I had, that introducing more whole grains could affect the future cancer risk rates for thousands of people, young now, but who with unlimited choices would eat anything offered as long as the taste paid off. And those college students who got hooked on whatever foods I introduced them to would take those dining habits into lifelong behavioral patterns. Kids from all over the world were coming together and I could bring all the joy of local Massachusetts and New York apples in fall, squashes in winter, and peaches and berries into summer.

I spent three years at Boston University, writing menus and developing food items. I had my own agenda beyond the base expectations of BU Dining Services. I wanted seasonal, local, and sustainable, healthful—I was a yogini chef coming from a background of restaurant artistry and my own college culinary experiences in crunchy granola idyllic Ithaca New York. Cornell had the Hotel School, the Ag School, and chefs and local farms feeding food from nearby and even student run farms directly into the university’s dining program.

Massachusetts, Cambridge, and Boston though? We were hopelessly behind the times I felt. A 2001 graduate but here it was 2004-2007 and we couldn’t even get compost and recycling happening consistently in the city, much less the sources for and quantities of local and seasonal food I had access to in upstate NY, where the growing season is similarly short.

I hit roadblocks with corporate policy in my own company and interest but lack of enthusiasm from the BU community. I was dismayed, as while I was there, never once did a student contact me about sustainability and food origins and our company supply chain. BU Dining services rolled out a Sustainability program and then spent huge amounts of time marketing these food items students seemed to care not at all about.    Without grassroots push coming from students who cared, my personal vision of the kind of on campus restaurants I felt it would be right and good to run seemed it would never materialize.

  I started my MBA at Northeastern in Fall of 2006 and left full time employment with BU Dining Services in 2007, and working now part-time as a chef instructor, freelance chef, personal trainer and a yoga instructor while I finish the MBA at Northeastern. I study International Business and Supply Chain, and I believe in as short and local as possible in the everyday of how we eat, understanding what a luxury food really entails on our health, the environment, and our economies.

What is Terra Madre? What means Slow Food?

What is Terra Madre? What means Slow Food?

In 2007 Slow Food USA, launched  Slow Food On Campus, an initiative to start-up Slow Food Convivia on college and university campuses.   Slow Food BU  officially became a BU club in the Fall of 2007. In Fall of 2008, Northeastern began to organize its own Slow Food Convivia. Also in Fall of 2008 I and thousands of other youth delegates from around the world traveled to Terra Madre.

My notes from the event still inspire me:

Slow food is a fundamental way of changing how we connect with and have a relationship with nature. First with food: then with each other.

With the passion of youth I wrote my response, in context of Italy and romance of food and longing for a certain luxury item back home …

Slow food is as seductive as a kiss.

There on my neck, just like that.

Our relationship, oh definitely redefined.

As for food, thats not what I taste,

Its flavor, all salt like you, smoky and unknown,

but I’m connected oh so very. …

Getting ready for closing ceremonies.

Getting ready for closing ceremonies.

Alice Waters said “You are the stewards of a delicious new food system, a global new counterculture, a way of thinking in opposition to the dominant fast food culture. We have evolved from inspiration into action….Now, with this new redefinition of our relationship with nature, we talk too of energy.

…Harness this between us, all of what could have been. Had you oh faithless one chosen faith. Had I the liar chosen truth? Had we risked what oh nothing really just a fall it happens all the time just a fall and power feels divine. You tell me this is falsity and I declare you desecration, but oh just one more kiss. Kiss kiss hate hate. the way I am the way you make me feel things I thought I’d given up. I thought I was happy and along came you and I am derailed passion and fire and fine set me on set me up and it all goes tumbling this house of cards this ice beyond melted blown to bits and once in a while I see a water droplet and remember what I used to want feel think.

Just another throwaway love affair but I would taste you fully before we crumple ash and die. Go down screaming soft so only you hear never tell a soul. Just another walkaway and as he reaches over and takes my hand I feel yours over my skin breathing in to my ear and I am drowsy, falling asleep in your arms gazing at his bedroom eyes behinmy closed lids.

This is about the story of chefs and unsustainability, of moments stolen like land stolen, believing luxury costs nothing. Dreams, dreams, we must build on things more real than this.

This is the kind of visceral response the movement has, the power to inspire, transform and impassion.

This woman rocks the world every time she speaks. Grateful to hear her. Vandanya Shiva.

This woman rocks the world every time she speaks. Grateful to hear her. Vandanya Shiva.

Vandanya Shiva said we face 3 major crisis’ in our midst: financial, food, and environment. 

Carlos Petrini spoke later, saying young people are the hope of Terra Madre. “This fiscal crisis will reverberate across the world, but 2008 will be remembered showing unilateralism will not work. Malnourshing and hungry reaching 1 out of 6 and cannot be reached…companies and countries could not keep up with a 30 billion dollar promise, but in the finance crisis 200 thousand billion was found in a fortnight. We should be denouncing that, and fighting mad. Completely and totally denouncing food speculation. Price of rice, corn and wheat increase fivefold. Italy 15% of income. Some places 50 or 80%. Not the same when prices doubled for Italians than when prices doubled for the malnourished.

Need to respect the ruler economy, agriculture and farmer. Value to labor, small scale production. Stay attention to those who till and protect the land.

Contraband at the live market. Yum?

Contraband at the live market. Yum?

Food, farming, agriculture, climate, energy…starting with food. Small scale is not marginal economy. The economy of nature and subsistence will save the planet from the crazy market economy. I feel like a fish speaking in an aquarium, but I could not not greet you. Thanks to you my love for your country increases. I hope that my heart will grow with even more love on Nov. 4th. From what I can tell would I be able to find older ppl in America?”

For those of you who read this and went, I ask, do you feel it now?

A few weeks ago, in February 2009  more than 60 northeastern schools sent students to to learn, network and strategiz e at The Real Food Summit in Amherst. Students brainstormed ways to get fresh food in dining halls, more campus gardens, or more critical food-related curricula, making our schools invest in healthy, community-based, fair, and environmentally sound food for all.

Were you one of those? If not, can you be? We must stop falling short and serving short term passions in all things, think more fully before we act on such broad reaching things. I leave school in May, go forth and work again on the inside of the system. Can you come from outside and underneath, banging at the doors, that we may work together to change this system? Will I find universities still now with no students yet interested and corporate and collegiate status quo in the way or shall we break through and begin this culinary revolution. I go on with torch and leave you the bonfire my friends, farmers, chefs, fellow foodies…let’s slow this food system down and make it real again, raw, powerful, and ready to fire a new sustainable food and market economy.

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