News from the national office: The RAFT sets sail!
RAFT stands for “Renewing America’s Food Traditions,” and is a new coalition of seven allied organizations all working toward preserving biodiversity in food, including:
- Slow Food USA
- The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
- The Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University
- Chefs Collaborative
- Cultural Conservancy
- Native Seeds/SEARCH
- Seed Savers Exchange
First brought together by Gary Nabhan of the Center for Sustainable Environments, the seven coalition organizations of the RAFT have many goals, but the first one has already been achieved: the publication of the first ever “Redlist” of over 700 endangered American foods–including all 250 Ark USA foods and many others which are being researched and documented for eventual boarding onto the Ark (in some cases, it takes a Raft to get to an Ark!).
All convivium leaders will receive a copy of the RAFT book called Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Bringing Cultural and Culinary Mainstays from the Past into the New Millennium. The book not only lists all foods on the Redlist but also provides in-depth profiles of the top ten endangered foods, and the top ten success stories of foods that have experienced a rebirth, like the American chestnut, Creole cream cheese, Iroquois White corn, Navajo Churro sheep, Hand-harvested wild rice and those famous beloved turkeys (Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff and Narragansett, just to name a few).
It’s no coincidence that many of these foods have been revitalized thanks to their promotion by convivia at events, local markets, restaurants and in partnership with farmers, and especially thanks to the tastebuds and buying power of Slow Food members everywhere. The Ark of Taste is also a major source of inspiration for the RAFT Redlist, and while the Redlist and the Ark are not meant to overlap completely, we honor the important role of Ark & Presidia in helping the RAFT come to fruition.
The RAFT campaign is therefore an unprecedented opportunity for Slow Food to become an even stronger catalyst for this kind of food revolution–one in which we choose flavor and quality over shelf-life and price, and we support fair prices for farmers and ecological sustainability rather than the lowest common denominator and the industrialization of agriculture.
With the allied organizations of the RAFT campaign, Slow Food will begin organizing major initiatives starting in 2005, so we encourage you to stay tuned for more information on how to get involved!