Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greenmarket's Nevia No, Bodhitree Farm, Returns From Terra Madre Slow Food Conference

Bodhitree Farm’s Nevia No is back from the Slow Food international organization’s bi annual Terra Madre conference, held in Turin Italy, October 21 through 25th.

As previously reported here, Nevia is one of two Greenmarket farmers from New York City nominated to represent the Union Square Greenmarket.  The other nominee is a Vermont maple syrup farmer.

I adore Nevia’s farm fresh vegetables.  They are exquisitely pristine.
She takes extraordinary care with the growing – and the presentation. 
The produce is clean, clean, clean.  It is arranged with the care of a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion window, beckoning to the keen passerby and seasoned restaurant staff alike.
Every greenmarket and food book signing or culinary benefit I attend where the top chefs provide food tastings invariably note Bodhitree Farm as the preferred farmer.

The chefs’ reverence for her produce is not a surprise. 

The care and love she invests in farming, growing the tastiest, most flavorful veggies results in the best produce.
Did you know the word Bodhi-Tree is a wisdom or world tree and is a symbol of enlightenment?  How perfect.

She – and her associate, Debbie – are unfailingly helpful and nice. Always smiling.
There is usually a cooking demo going on too. 
This way, once you’ve been seduced by the day’s neat-as-a-pin, colorful display, you can test drive the sweet potato curiosity you’ve never heard of. 
Or the purple cauliflower you didn’t think was real.
The variety of vegetables and herb is the tatsoi, red mizuna, Tuscan kale,
Delicious, tempting treats are made by Nevia or most often, Alissa Dicker Schrieber from The Kitchenista ( 

It’s always a food adventure at the Bodhitree farm stand at the Greenmarket.

I asked Nevia how the trip to Turin, Italy for the Terra Madre international network of food was for her. 
She described an extraordinary experience. 
I could see it in her eyes.  She looked like she’d been to the “other side.”  Transformed.
Just being in a place where everyone has the same passionate devotion to food must be a religious experience of sorts.

Nevia attended the lectures and panel discussions to learn more about the next generation of sustainable food producers of which she is one.

She also learned that while most small farm laborers are women; very, very few women actually own the land they work…
She said she was most impressed by a group of Asian women who risked prison and death over many years in order to claim their farm land.
Coincidentally and timely, I was just introduced to the “Women Wearing the Pants” (WWTP) organization that is dedicated to supporting the work of the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women and the commitment to Free Trade Zones and Fair Trade. The Asian women who fought for the farm could have used this support.
I was particularly intrigued with Experimental Gardens.  According to their website. “In December 2010, WWTP will help research and finance 15 experimental subsistence gardens for impoverished women headed households in Nicaragua through affiliations with  The International Development Enterprise.

Following a discussion about fair trade, gender issues in food production and indigenous food, I asked Nevia what was the most interesting food she experienced at the conference. 
She said she was so busy attending all the scheduled events that the food item that really captivated her was the bread she discovered the local Italians use.

Nevia brought out a shrink-wrapped bread from her truck cab to show me.

Soon, others were marveling at the unique, stylish bread design.  Leave it to those fashionable Italians! 

Slow Food International was founded 30 years ago as a non-profit organization that promotes the preservation and growth of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible food worldwide.

It’s crazy that we have to even have such an organization as a watchdog and promoter – or reminder – of what “real” food is. Sigh. But we must.
And I for one, am most sincerely grateful for their amazing work, given the topsy-turvy world of industrialized, corporate food production that purports to provide “food” while delivering no less than laboratory-created “nutrients” rather than safe, pure, food. 
Don’t get me started.

As noted in the Introduction to my book, “Long Island Homegrown” to be published next year (working hard to complete the last details now J)

Much of the effort was launched as a reaction, nay – a rebellion against the industrialization of food production and food offerings as presented by restaurant chains and supermarkets.  The Slow Food movement was started in Italy – not surprisingly – by Carlo Petrini --to combat fast food. In 1986, Petrini was resisting a McDonald’s planned near the Spanish Steps in Rome.  His Slow Food movement claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an eco region. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement. The movement has since expanded globally to hundreds of thousands of members all over the world, and the biannual food conference is a coveted invitation

Coveted indeed is an invitation to the Slow Food conference.
So raise your glass and let’s toast Nevia No, Bodhitree Farm, for representing Greenmarket. For making us so proud. 
For all the crazy hard work that she does with such integrity – and making it all look so elegant.
To continue to provide us outstanding leadership, sustainable “veggies with spirit” as she notes on her business card. – And unmatched, flavorful food.

We love you, Nevia.  The USPS needs to start issuing a series of stamps that celebrate Farmers as heroes and leaders. 
And I vote for you to be the first cover girl stamp!

You can learn more here about Slow Food Movement:

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