We have established the Terra Madre Relief Fund for precisely this purpose. Some of you may remember of the great successes this fund had, under Poppy Tooker's able guidance, in raising over $40K to help victims of Katrina and Rita. Today the fund exists to help all those farmers and food artisans struck by natural disasters nationwide, and right now the focus is on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
While we are indeed fortunate that the loss of human life in this tragedy has been relatively low, the stories are nonetheless as sad as they are all too numerous; such as Susan, a farmer in Iowa who's 102-year-old barn was lost to one of the storms last week, leaving much of her livestock without shelter; and Andrew, who's entire crop of heirloom lettuces took a beating from the hail that same week. Livestock has been swept away, almost 3 million acres of of freshly planted farmland is underwater and 35,000 people's homes have been destroyed - this in Iowa alone. Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri are seeing much of the same.
But just as it was for so many after Katrina, such as Kay and Ray Brandhurst, the shrimpers in Louisiana who's trawler got a new engine thanks to the TM Relief Fund, so that they could get back to providing good, clean, fair food, there is hope for the folks in the Heartland as well. We intend to help get these farmers back to the markets, and get those markets back up and running.
So I am writing to ask you for your help, not just for donations (though of course we need those too), but also for the stories of the people you know who were affected by this terrible flood.
Please also consider organizing or attending a benefit event within your area to help us raise the money that is so desperately needed, or perhaps to refocus an event you already have planned to benefit flood relief. And please be sure to ask each of your members to give generously at this link or by sending checks (made out to Slow Food USA - with "Terra Madre Relief Fund: Heartland" in the memo) to Slow Food USA, 20 Jay Street, Suite M04. Brooklyn, NY 11201
I'm here to help with event planning, as are the regional governors and the SFUSA national office. In some cases I may be able to attend events, since I will be touring with my book starting in September anyway and a portion of the sales of every copy of my book will go to this fund.
We truly appreciate, and are relying on your generosity. Please give at the Terra Madre Relief Fund, and feel free to contact me at any time with comments or questions. Thank you all so very much, and I'll be in touch soon with more details. Meanwhile, here are some links to a couple of the flood stories here. If you have more, please post them or send them.
|Kurt Michael Friese, Gather Food Correspondent|
Gather 'Round the Table is a regular feature of Gather Essentials: Food.
Chef Kurt Michael Friese is a freelance food & wine writer & photographer.
He is also the co-owner - with his wife Kim - of Devotay, a restaurant in Iowa City, serves on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors, and is Editor-in-Chief of the local food magazine Edible Iowa River Valley. His forthcoming book, A Cook's Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland will be released in August. He lives in rural Johnson County, Iowa.
Keep up with Kurt Michael's food series by joining his network, or subscribing to his content.