Brooklyn, NY: In response to a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, people eating more fast food than home-cooked meals, and increasing rates of diet-related disease, Slow Food USA launched The $5 Challenge campaign. The organization, a national non-profit working for good, clean and fair food for all, is encouraging people across the country to cook slow food that costs no more than five dollars per person.
Slow food – the opposite of fast food – is food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.
"Slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food. It's time we take back the 'Value Meal,'" says Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA.
On Sept. 17, the campaign will launch with a Day of Action where people can attend any one of the hundreds of slow food gatherings nationwide. To participate in The $5 Challenge, all one has to do is pledge to cook a slow food meal for five dollars or less, or attend a local event. These events and meals can take any form: some people will host potlucks where they bring food that costs them less than five dollars to prepare. Some people will cook for a crowd and charge five dollars or less at the door. Some people will cook for themselves or their family. The only thing meals need to have in common is to reflect slow food values and to cost no more than five dollars per person. Those taking the challenge are also encouraged to register their events and to share their stories at SlowFoodUSA.org/5Challenge.
The $5 Challenge is a response to the First Lady's challenge to the nation to end the childhood obesity epidemic in a generation. In addition to Michelle Obama, a handful of other influencers such as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and author Michael Pollan have increased public concern about the impact the industrial food system has on our health and the environment. The campaign is a way for everyday people to build and to share their own solutions.
Locally, The $5 Challenge will give individuals an opportunity to come together, to share a meal and to begin a conversation about what needs to change with food in their community. Nationally, the campaign will bring attention to the challenges many people face in trying to feed their families healthy, sustainable food—from a lack of access, to the rising price of fruits and vegetables and the falling price of soda and junk food.
"Right now, we have policies that make it harder to feed our children fruit than Froot Loops. But every day, against the odds, people find ways to cook real food on a budget. We need to make cooking and eating that way a possibility for everyone," adds Viertel. "If you know how to cook slow food on a budget, The $5 Challenge is a chance to teach someone. If you want to learn, it is a chance to get started. And it is a chance for us all to unite and begin pushing for the change we need."