During this past Labor Day weekend, I made a trip out to San Francisco to attend Slow Food Nation  – a gathering of farmers, cooks, writers, activists, policy analysts and foodies to celebrate and promote slow food. Slow food is about a sustainable food system. I know that’s an obscure phrase, sustainable food system, but it basically means the production and distribution of food that is “good, clean and fair.” It means a food system that provides:
- Delicious, nutritious, and fresh food that is often locally grown and organic;
- Food produced and distributed with a limited negative impact on the environment; and
- Food produced by workers who are paid fair wages and whose rights are respected.
The event included a speaker series featuring some of the prominent thinkers on food (Michael Pollan , Marion Nestle , and Vandana Shiva  among others), a marketplace featuring artisan foods and heirloom produce, and a Taste exhibition with samplings of various foods from tea to chocolate to olive oil to organic wine to artisan breads. The food was absolutely delicious. I tried a vanilla and rose flavored ice cream, learned how to recognize quality olive oil, and saw varieties of apples, melons and green beans that I’ve never seen before.
I left Slow Food Nation (see my photos ) with a deeper understanding of how our food choices impact not only our health and enjoyment of food, but also the environment and farmers at home and abroad. The issue of a sustainable food system can be kind of complex and arcane, but I sum it up by what it means in terms of action – cooking your own food more often and sharing it with family and friends, and shopping at farmers’ markets or planting a garden. It also means calling for good food and agriculture policy from our elected officials, but I’ll get into that some other time. It’s the feasible, everyday actions that I just mentioned that lead to reconnecting to the culture and flavor of real food and knowing where your food comes from.
Speaking of those green beans I saw in the Marketplace, they inspired me to share this recipe for Almond Cranberry Green Beans that I made with locally grown green beans I picked up last night at the supermarket. My recipe is based off of the dish often made by my good friend Steve Rollins.
Almond Cranberry Green Beans
1 pound of fresh green beans, rinsed with ends trimmed
6 cups of water
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 tbs of finely diced onions
2 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs of kosher salt, plus more to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Bring six cups of water and 1 tbs of salt to a boil. Fill a medium sized bowl (large enough to hold the green beans) with iced water and set aside. Add rinsed and trimmed green beans into the boiling water. Once the water comes back up to a boil, continue to cook green beans for 5 – 10 minutes depending on how tender you like your green beans. Then, drain the beans and place in the ice water for 1 – 2 minutes and drain.
In a skillet, heat the 2 tbs of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the diced onions for about one minute, then add the dried cranberries and sliced almonds and sauté (stirring frequently) for another minute. Then, add the drained green beans and sauté for about five minutes tossing with the onions, cranberries and almonds to distribute them throughout the green beans.
Taste for seasoning (remember you salted the water when you first boiled the green beans). Add salt to taste if needed. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Serve.