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July Newsletter


In This Issue
President's Message: Ark of Taste
What's Up with National?
Slow Food Regional Chapter
Elephant Heart Plum
Orchard Gleaning Event & Potluck
SFOC at OC Fair
4th Annual Barbecue
Join the Slow Food Movement!
We invite you to join the Slow Food movement! Slow Food Orange County is working hard to preserve and protect local foods and food traditions. Our convivium plans events and programs in places across Orange County-anything from community gardens, taste education dinners, and farm tours-join the network and become active in planning and participating in these diverse initiatives.  Click here for Benefits of Membership,  here to join or send us an email if you have questions.


New Slow Food HeaderPresident's Message: Ark of Taste

In 1996, Slow Food established the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of foods in danger of extinction. Since its creation, about 800 products have been added to the international catalogue with 200 of the products on the US Ark of Taste. Until becoming involved in Slow Food leadership, I was unaware of the Ark of Taste, so believing I am not the only one who is uninformed, I thought I would use this newsletter to "spread the word."


The Ark of Taste is one of the ways Slow Food is helping to protect biodiversity. The products on the Ark (think metaphorical Noah's Ark) have for the most part become threatened by industrial standardization in agriculture, large scale distribution, and environmental damage. By promoting and eating Ark products, we help ensure they remain in production and available to us. Products on the Ark are from a wide variety of categories: fruits and berries, nuts, cereals, cheeses, fish, shellfish, game, livestock, poultry, beverages, honey, spices, syrups, vinegars, pulses and more. To qualify for the US Ark of Taste products must be:

  • Outstanding in terms of taste as defined by local traditions and uses
  • At risk biologically or as culinary traditions
  • Sustainably produced
  • Culturally or historically linked to a specific region, locality, ethnicity or traditional practice
  • Produced in limited quantities by farms or small-scale processing companies

To learn about specific products by region, where to buy products, how to grow your own Ark products and to see Ark projects from local chapters, read more on the website,


One of the reasons for lack of awareness about the Ark is that the US Ark has been more or less stagnant for the last several years. No new products have been "boarded" onto the Ark and even though applications have been filed, US products were not being represented at Terra Madre. Two new committees have formed to change this situation. One committee will work to create more clear and consistent methods for boarding products to the Ark of Taste as well to choose at least 4 new products. This will fulfill a US commitment to the International Biodiversity Foundation. I am involved with this committee. We will meet this week to review newly drafted documents designed to clarify the process for boarding products. The other committee will work on getting a delegation of vendors to Terre Madre in October to represent biodiversity in the US. Their focus will be on heirloom, Ark, and indigenous crop producers. These committees are headed by a group of four Slow Food regional governors who have specific interests in the area. I also look forward to finding ways for our local chapter to support biodiversity through the Ark of Taste.


Linda Elbert


Slow Food - Our Orange County chapter is Vibrant and Active, but What's Up with National?New Slow Food Header

Recently the Orange County chapter of Slow Food completed an important leadership transition. It is not uncommon for local organizations like ours to develop a critical dependence on the dynamism of one or two individual leaders. Given this, the smooth handoff this spring of the chapter chairmanship, the addition of several active, new board members, and the continuity provided by several other long-time board members is a testimony to the great job of organization building done by Heather Westenhofer and Roger McErlane before her. We are a chapter that has become known among California chapters for the many diverse, interesting events that we sponsor. The board has also been working to develop stronger outreach programs focusing on education and fairness.


Although our local chapter has been thriving, some of us have been concerned about what is happening at the national level, where Josh Viertel, who had been president of Slow Food USA since 2008, stepped down abruptly and soon after the national congress. This concern intensified after a widely reported statement from an influential chapter leader in another part of the country suggesting that Viertel's departure reflected a repudiation of his leadership and a change in the direction by the national organization. These questions were addressed on a recent conference call that included the national leadership and chapter leaders from across the country.


On that call Katherine Deumling, Chair of the Slow Food USA Board of Directors, spoke candidly about this transition. She was emphatic that this transition in leadership did not signal a change in direction for the national organization. Specifically, she said that this means:

  • Members, leaders, and chapters are still the core of Slow Food, and the job of the national office is to support and grow the Slow Food network
  • We still exist to protect biodiversity and reclaim, create, and celebrate local food cultures
  • We still believe in, cherish, and utilize the pleasure of the table and conviviality
  • We still see addressing inequities in food and farming as central to our mission
  • In sum, we're about good and clean and fair

Deumling asserted that Viertel's departure grew out of the need, given the growing success of the national organization, for a leader with different skills. When Viertel was hired, the national organization was much smaller than it is now, there was a need for an external-facing spokesperson, and he brought those skills. While Viertel has been President, Slow Food USA succeeded in becoming a national voice on food-related issues and the national organization has grown tremendously. Viertel stepped down because of the mutual realization that what Slow Food USA needs now is a president with more extensive management skill and experience building and running a national organization. Deumling emphasized that the board will take the time necessary to carefully redefine the president's position and carry out a search for Viertel's successor.


The importance of finding the right person to assume the Slow Food USA presidency was underscored by the exciting announcement, which coincided with Viertel's departure, that Slow Food USA had received a $1.2 million grant, from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to be used over three years. (Note that although this foundation was started with seed money from the Kellogg company many years ago, the foundation is no longer affiliated with the company.) Slow Food USA was chosen for this grant because the foundation sees Slow Food as being one of the foremost organizations in the food movement and see that the way we do our work can have an impact on other sectors in the food movement. Specifically, they're interested in what good, clean, and fair looks like on the ground, and the work that we can do to help address racial and economic inequities in the food system.


Ted Wright

Chapter Secretary


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Slow Food Regional Chapter

Several of our Slow Food OC Steering Committee Members (Heather, Wayan, Diana, Ted and Nina and Linda) attended a regional chapter dinner hosted by Slow Food Urban San Diego. Leaders from Slow Food Temecula and Slow Food San Diego North County also attended the dinner. The dinner was held at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, where Chefs Jeff Jackson, Kara Snyder and the staff prepared a delicious 3 course dinner in true Slow Food style showcasing the vegetables and fruits now in season.


Michael Dimock, President of Roots of Change, a collaborative network of leaders and institutions in California with interest in establishing a sustainable food system and Slow Food Russian River board member was the guest for the evening. Michael has been involved with Slow Food since its beginning in the USA. It is very inspiring to hear him speak of the power food systems have to bring together diverse groups of people around the values of community, environment, and health. Michael will be the speaker at our Bommer Canyon BBQ. In addition to enjoying the great food, music and fun at the BBQ, come meet Michael and enjoy what he has to say.


There was a definite feeling of community as the various chapter leaders conversed around the table about how Slow Food can become even more allied with elements of the good food movement. Chapters are each in their own way working for better food in schools, food justice, an understanding about where our food comes from, and what makes high quality food. Slow Food national, is encouraging the various California chapters to work together as an entity. With this in mind, southern California chapters will be meeting together quarterly with our next meeting hosted by Slow Food Temecula in August. This will be of tremendous help to our Slow Food OC Steering Committee through sharing of ideas and resources. Additionally, details will be forthcoming about a California regional event hosted by Slow Food Russian River with Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini as a speaker. This event will be held following the The National Heirloom Expo in Petaluma, Sept 11-13 This could be a great time for a road trip up north!


Elephant Heart Plum

The Elephant Heart Plum is one of the fruits on the Ark of Taste that grows primarily in California. It was developed in Sonoma County by Luther Burbank in 1929. It is a freestone plum with a smooth, mottled skin and dark, ruby red flesh and sometimes is referred to as a "blood plum." When perfectly ripe the meat is so juicy that it is more like a drink than a fruit. The flesh has tropical and vanilla notes. The skin has a tart, berry flavor. It is grown on small farms that practice hand picking and packing. The Elephant Heart plum has a high yield making it a good choice for home gardens. It's low chill hours make it a good choice for southern California gardens although you will need a second varietal as a pollinator. Below is a refreshing and delicious summer soup recipe that shows off the Elephant Heart plum.New Slow Food Header


Chilled Plum Soup
serves 6-8

  • 2 pounds ripe, red fleshed plums washed, cut in half, and pitted
  • 1 6-inch thin strip of orange zest
  • 1 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, Creme Fraiche or Mascarpone for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Mix the plums, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, till the fruit is very soft.


Puree the entire contents in a blender, skins and all. If you plan to serve it cold, chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

When ready to serve, add more orange juice, if you like, to adjust the consistency. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, then ladle into small bowls. Swirl a spoonful of yoghurt into each portion as a garnish.

Upcoming Events 

Orchard Gleaning Event with the Harvest Club

Date: Sunday, July 29th

Time: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Location: Private Home in Orange

Our friends at The Harvest Club and Scott, a homeowner in the city of Orange, have graciously invited us to a gleaning event in his backyard orchard. We will be harvesting an abundance of oranges to feed our neighbors in need. 
The Harvest Club is a residential gleaning program run by OC Food Access Coalition that harvests excess fruit and vegetables from the backyards of Orange County for delivery to our local emergency food network.
To volunteer for this event, RSVP by Friday, July 20th by sending an email to Joanne Lin at She will follow up with additional information regarding the harvest, including the exact address to the location. For more information, visit and
Following the harvest, we welcome everyone to an al fresco potluck at The Village, home of OC Food Access Coalition in Santa Ana. For more info, see below. For those attending the potluck afterward, feel free to meet at The Village at 9:30 a.m. and we will carpool to Orange. There is a kitchen with a refrigerator where you will be able to leave your potluck dish.

July Potluck - Welcoming New Members

Date: Sunday, July 29th

Time: 1 p.m.

Location: The Village in Santa Ana

What better way to celebrate summer than with a potluck feast! This event is open to everyone, and we would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to all of our new members who joined Slow Food Orange County during the May membership drive. To show our gratitude and appreciation, we invite you to come as our guests - no need to bring a dish, just bring your appetite!


OC Food Access Coalition has generously offered to host this event in the outdoor courtyard of their home office in Santa Ana. Address information will be provided with reply confirmation.

As usual, don't forget to bring your own place setting and a beverage to share. RSVP to

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Slow Food at the Orange County Fair - August 11

Date: Saturday, August 11

Time: 3:00PM & 5:30PM

Location: OC Fairgrounds

Slow Food with have a booth in Culinary Exhibit Building on August 11. The culinary theme that day will be a Taste of Home and feature presentations to inspire cooking at home. One of our slow food members will be presenting a cooking demonstration at 3 pm (details coming soon!) and at 5:30 Linda Elbert our Slow Food OC chair and chef/owner of The Basement Table www.thebasementtable .com will demonstrate "Salad Dressing Design." We need volunteers to work our Slow Food booth so if you are interested please contact Linda at Spend a couple of hours sharing your passion about Slow Food with booth visitors, then enjoy the day at the fair.

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4th Annual Barbecue

Date: Sunday, September 23rd

Time: 4 p.m.

Location: Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp, Irvine

Save the date for our 4th Annual Barbecue!

It will feature live music and a locally-sourced seasonal feast prepared by Chef Ryan Adams of 370 Common in Laguna Beach.


We are currently soliciting donations for the raffle at the barbecue. We are particularly interested in items that reflect the Slow Food philosophy of growing food, cooking it, and eating it. These include restaurant gift certificates, artisan food products, cookbooks, plants, and gardening tools. If you have an idea for a donation, please fill out the form at

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