Snail by Snail: Gitta Grether-Sweeney

As you can imagine, the board of Slow Food Portland has strong opinions when it comes to food. And as passionate as we all are, we were in a bit of a standstill when it came to next steps. What needs our attention? How does Slow Food Portland fit into the greater non profit scene in Portland? After many meetings, reflective exercises and a hard look, we came to the conclusion that this year would focus on education.

Which brought us to the doorstep of Gitta Grether-Sweeney, the director of nutrition services for Portland Public Schools. She walked us through school lunch, budget, and where she needed help. By January, a handful of volunteers set out to give samples of parsnips at a few elementary schools. The mission was simple: to have a few extra people approaching kids to invite/coax/rally them to taste the new veggie so that they might be more willing to pick that item in the lunch line.

This is a new endeavor, but one we hope to see grow and expand across more schools! If childhood nutrition inspires you, we’ll hope you’ll join us for sampling during lunchtime. To get on the volunteer list, please fill out this form.

This month’s episode dives right into school lunch! Listen in to learn:

  • What Gitta Grether-Sweeney thought would never see happen during her career, but did
  • How Portland Public Schools feeds kids with $3.15 for lunch. With about $1.48 spent on food
  • Why 100% whole grain might not always be achievable

Snail by Snail: Oregon Olive Mill

©Evrim Icoz Photography

In Dayton, Oregon a massive delicious experiment is going on. The Oregon Olive Mill has been growing olives in the Pacific Northwest’s cool climate since 2008. In that time, there have been freezes and thousands of trees dying. Nonetheless, they ventured on and have been producing excellent olive oil and creating a burgeoning Northwest olive oil culture.

Joined by Paul Durant, owner and miller at the Oregon Olive Mill, and Libby Clow, the olive oil program ambassador, listen in to hear:

  • About Slow Food University and Libby’s concentration on olive oil, wine, cheese, and cured meats (yum!)
  • How and why olive oil keeps them honest
  • And what the freeze of 2013 taught them about the cultivation of cool climate olives


©Evrim Icoz Photography

To learn more about the mill and plan a tasting, visit their website by clicking here.

PS: If you’re wondering what the occasional banging is that comes into the background on the track, it’s a construction team fixing a water leak outside our door on the day we recorded (much to our surprise).

Snail by Snail Podcast: Chef Kusuma Rao

Chef Kusuma Rao

To eat Chef Kusuma Rao’s food is to be delighted totally and completely. Her dishes are incredibly complex and nuanced, but her plates never lose touch with the basic element that food is a vehicle for nourishment and connection.

In speaking with her, I felt such privilege to get a glimpse into her talent and the process that accompanies the development of each dish. Listen in to learn:

  • why she doesn’t shy away from the term “fusion”
  • why she’s deliberately chosen to do pop-ups as opposed to establishing a brick and mortar restaurant
  • her dream to use food as a way to feed non-profit organizations and foster community

To find out more about Chef Kusuma Rao and see her beautiful food and breads follow her on Instagram @ruchikala or visit her website.

Share the ideas!

“It’s good to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and to listen to the food as much as possible ” {Tweet it!}

“Good, clean fair gives a reason to go one direction over the other. Guides the true story of what we’re doing on all levels.” {Tweet it!}

We want to hear from you! 

Once you’ve had a chance to listen, we’d love to know…

What’s your favorite food story? Is there a certain dish that has a significant role in your life?

Happy listening and eating!


Snail by Snail: A Slow Food PDX Podcast

While I know deep down in my bones that we need the principles of Slow Food now more than ever, there are times when I feel overwhelmed about the challenge to fight for good, clean, fair food.

Good, clean, fair. What do these words mean? And what do they look like in action? How do we live them in a world that may often err on the side of cheap, fast and easy?

This is a huge question and one that I think supporters of Slow Food are constantly grappling with. In the pursuit of an answer we, at Slow Food Portland, thought we’d go out into the city and engage in this conversation with farmers, chefs, producers and activists. Thus, Snail by Snail, our new podcast came to life!

Over the course of the year, we’ll share a monthly podcast with people living and pursuing good, clean, fair food on the ground.

I’m so excited to share our first interview with Chef Ryan Mead. Chef Ryan was the executive chef at the Bent Brick in NW Portland and we sat down to talk just before he moved back to his home state of Michigan.

Listen to hear:

  • How the farm dictates menu development
  • How hunting and fishing has made him a more responsible steward of whole animal butchery
  • The catalyst that made him stop and rethink the fine dining experience
  • His dream for food and community to be a transformative force in rebuilding Detroit



Share the ideas!

A lot of people get lost in their busy schedules but making food by hand is fun and makes us appreciate it more. {Tweet it}

It’s about creating a memorable experience through food that’s approachable for everybody. {Tweet it}

We want to hear from you!

What are some of the challenges of making food by hand? Why make pasta at home, for example, if you could buy it in the store? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Wishing you many good meals,

Antonella Aguilera-Ruiz, ND
Slow Food Portland board member and Snail by Snail host