By Allison Knott, RD
I had the opportunity to sit down with the board of Slow Food Tufts this month. The student group was founded in 2008 and is still going strong three years later, hosting pot lucks, brew-offs, and bake-offs as well as eating their way through Boston, one sustainable farm at a time.
Rachael Kirk & Kyle Foley are Co-Chairs of Slow Food Tufts, Tina Galante is the Treasurer, and Maya Behar is the Communications Officer.
Slow Food Tufts is one of many chapters across the world of Slow Food International. The mission of Slow Food International is to work as a grassroots membership organization promoting good, clean, and fair food for all.
When did Slow Food Tufts start and who were the original founders?
Slow Food Tufts was started in 2008 by Asta Schuette and few other Tufts students. You may now know Asta as the founder of the fabulous Bon Me food truck. “It was a way to bring Friedman students together to share their love of food,” says Kyle Foley.
What is the role of this student group within Tufts University and Friedman?
Slow Food Tufts plans social events for all Tufts University graduate students to enjoy. As Rachel Kirk explains it, “Building community around food is so important to what Slow Food does. Slow Food also helps to familiarize students with the greater Boston food community.” Slow Food Tufts aims to be the champion for good, clean, fair food at Tufts. The garden at the Medford campus and the most recent involvement in the Friedman café are two examples.
Who can be a member of Slow Food Tufts?
Slow Food Tufts is for all graduate students at Tufts University including the dental school, medical school, Fletcher school, and Friedman school. Any Tufts graduate student can be an officer as well. They only ask that you attend one event per year to maintain membership. Currently, the undergraduate campus does not have a Slow Food group and events of Slow Food Tufts are limited to graduate students. However, anyone can start a group and is encouraged to do so!
The group hosted a brew-off last spring that was very successful. Members throughout the Tufts Community participated by either home brewing beer for the competition, or by tasting and voting on the brews. The group has also been to a cranberry bog twice in the past year as well as hosted a trivia night.
One unique part of Slow Food Tufts is the skill shares hosted on a regular basis. Skills shares provide an opportunity for students to teach others a skill in an area like bread making, soap making, canning, or vermicomposting, or composting using worms. “A good way to connect back to your food is to start making things and having your hands in the process. It is self-empowering,” says Rachel. “Part of the Slow Food mission is preserving those traditions, and the skill shares provide a platform for doing that,” says Tina. “The Friedman community is a diverse place where people have different family traditions and skills, and we want to provide a place where students can share those unique skills.”
What is the greatest benefit you gain from being a member of the Slow Food Tufts Board and how has that shaped your experience at Friedman?
“We eat a lot of really good food,” says Maya. Since officers decide what events should be planned for the upcoming year, “It provides a nice way to connect to the local food system,” adds Rachel. “And of course, you get to eat good food with people from Friedman – something that many graduate students don’t have time to do.”
It sounds like the best part of Slow Food…is the food! What other benefits are there to being a student member of Slow Food Tufts?
Slow Food Tufts gives its members the opportunity to take what you learned in class and put it into action. There are many opportunities to participate in food related events, from potlucks to visiting a local, sustainable, food business. “You get to see the fun side of food and to learn about it in a very accessible way,” says Kyle. Besides that, student members see Slow Food Tufts as a great way to meet fellow Friedman students, as well as students from various graduate schools within Tufts. “It is a nice social outlet,” says Maya.
What’s next on the Slow Food Tufts calendar?
There are always skillshares coming up in Slow Food Tufts. The next one is all about fondue and raclette on November 2nd. And, in mid-November, James Nicolson from Mystic Brewing will be at the Slow Food meeting. The big event for the fall semester is the bake-off on December 12th at 4pm. There will be guest judges from Kickass Cupcakes and Sweet to judge everyone’s baking creations. The final judge has yet to be announced.
Any final thoughts?
The slow food movement started in Italy 20 years ago, and was an antithesis to fast food. It is about going back to a culture where you make your own food, knowing where your food came from, having the skills to cook the food, sitting down with family for meals, and supporting the people that grow the food as well as supporting the local food system. Slow Food Tufts aims to bring all those things to the Tufts community.
How to sign up?
Visit the Slow Food Tufts blog for more information and for a complete listing of upcoming events – slowfoodtufts.blogspot.com
Not ready to become a member, but are still interested in the group? Add your name to the email list to receive updates on events like the upcoming bake-off or trivia night.
Allison is a second year Nutrition Communication student and registered dietitian. She has a passion for communicating sound nutrition information to the public. Follow her kitchen blunders, triathlon adventures, and read nutrition advice on her blog, Choices.Habits.Lifestyle.