Slow Down with Slow Food Tufts: Student Group Spotlight By Ashley Carter

I recently had the opportunity to interview Katrina Brink about Slow Food Tufts, the Tufts chapter of Slow Food USA housed in the Friedman School.  For the past year, Katrina has been Chair of Slow Food Tufts, which was founded by Friedman students Asta Garmon and Jessica Lattif in 2009.  Slow Food Tufts was born out of a Friedman student group called FOOD, which was dedicated to stimulating dialogue and action on the political, economic, cultural and environmental aspects of food.  Slow Food Tufts continues to promote these same principles while growing in the Friedman community.

1.    What is the primary mission of Slow Food Tufts? 

The mission of Slow Food Tufts is to gather folks around good, healthy food, to be conscious about what we are eating, to work to protect biodiversity in the food supply, and to question the social and economic structures that make up our food system.

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Simone Passarelli and Emily Wei making fresh pasta on Italian Night
Photo Credit: Katrina Brink

2.    In your opinion, what is the most impactful aspect of Slow Food?  

I think it is the power of preparing a space for people to come around a table to share food together.  Taking time to eat together allows for real conversations to happen and for all of us to slow down the hectic pace of our lives for a few minutes and talk to one another.  At the international level, I think the most impactful aspect of Slow Food is its power to first gather people around good food, and then to rally them around the causes that are essential for us all to engage in every day in our communities and respective countries.  It introduces people to the connections between what we eat and how those choices impact biodiversity, environmental sustainability and justice in the food system.

 3.    I understand Slow Food Tufts is part of a national and international Slow Food organization and that you recently went to a Slow Food conference in Italy.

Slow Food Tufts is a campus chapter under Slow Food USA.  The chapter leaders are included in Slow Food USA leaders emails and phone calls, so you can give input and you get the inside scoop on what is happening in the organization.  Since I was a leader this past year I was eligible to apply as a delegate for Terra Madre or the International Congress (hyperlink: http://salonedelgustoterramadre.slowfood.com/), and I was selected to be part of the Congress. The purpose of the International Congress is to discuss and vote on a document called the Central Role of Food, as well as to elect the board for the next five years.  One of the most encouraging aspects of the conference was to see a strong, vibrant international youth presence in the form of the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN).  I was happy to see that the focus of Slow Food has shifted to the importance of not only preserving food culture, but also restructuring our food system to be more sustainable and just.  Slow Food used to be seen as an organization for wealthy people of the Western world to enjoy expensive, gourmet food.  But now there is an earnest effort underway to broaden the scope of the organization to address the injustices and unsustainability of our current agricultural and food manufacturing practices, and to include everyone in the movement.

This was the first year that the International Congress met at the same time as Terra Madre and the Salone Internazionale del Gusto (tasting salon) at the end of October in Turin, Italy.  It was an incredible experience to be at this enormous event of some 200,000 people.  Most were there for the tasting salon, which consisted of three rooms with hundreds of Italian farmers, chefs, and artisan food makers, and one huge room for the international tasting salon with representatives from nearly 100 countries.  It felt like taking a tour of the world in one room.  My eyes were opened to an astonishing number of new foods and products from around the world.  It was great to meet people from all these different countries and taste the products they had so caringly made.

Attendees of the Salone del Gusto could also attend the panel discussions and lectures that were a part of the Terra Madre component of the event.  This event happens every two years as a way to bring together people from around the world who work in all aspects of the food system to discuss the environmental, social and economic issues tied to food and agriculture.  There were talks ranging from how to green the economy to school gardening initiatives, as well as how to reduce food waste, what policies would be good to promote youth agriculture, and how to best support small scale fisheries.

I would like to bring a lot more of the environmental activism and social justice aspect of the movement into what we do in Slow Food Tufts.  It would be great for us to be involved in a community project in some way, and to see how we can be more actively involved in creating the food system we envision.  I look forward to seeing where the new officers take the group in the coming year.

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Fall apple picking
Source: http://slowfoodtufts.blogspot.com/)

4.    What recent events has Slow Food Tufts held? 

 This semester we went apple picking to benefit The Food Project (hyperlink: http://thefoodproject.org/), and got to bring home lots of perfectly good apples that had fallen from the trees.  A couple of us did two Saturdays in a row of canning apple chutney, spiced apples and apple butter.   After that we had a newfound respect for people who have to can all of their food.

We also went on our second annual tour of the cheese caves of Formaggio Kitchen (http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/) in Cambridge this fall.  In October we held Squash Fest, which was a delicious dinner of squash-themed foods, and most recently we had an Italian night and ate fabulous, homemade pasta and the best Eggplant Parmesan of our lives!

5.    I hear there’s a Bake-Off in the near future. What’s the scoop?

We are partnering with Friedman Student Council for the Bake-Off, which will be held on Monday, December 3rd from 4:30-6:30 in the Jaharis Café.  We have professional judges coming in from Flour Bakery, Kick*ss Cupcakes, and Georgetown Cupcakes!  There will be prizes for each category, and a prize for the overall winner.

A donation of $5 is suggested for those who attend and participate in the bake-off, but a larger donation is definitely welcome.  All of the proceeds go to the 1,000 Gardens in Africa Project (hyperlink http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLAp3oWk5RU&feature=endscreen&NR=1).  This project in Kenya is coordinated in part by John Kariuki, the outgoing Vice President of Slow Food International, who I met at the conference in Italy. He is thrilled to have us helping out, so I’d love to show him that Friedman can come through in a big way for this project!

 6.    Any insider tips for bakers looking to take gold at the event?

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to do something different!  I’m a fan of simplicity, and trying to get too fancy with baking has often not turned out well for me, but if you can do it, then this is your chance to show off your skills!

 7.    How else can people get involved with Slow Food?

If people want to get involved they can contact either me or one of the new officers who will be taking over next semester.  They are first-year students Amy Elvidge, Meg Keegan and Simone Passarelli.  We also have a Facebook page (hyperlink: http://www.facebook.com/SlowFoodFriedman) where we post all of our events.

8.    What has been the greatest benefit of being involved with Slow Food? 

It’s been fun to find out what foodie skills my fellow students have, and having the opportunity to go to Terra Madre and the International Congress in Turin definitely fulfilled a long-time dream!  I feel very fortunate for having had the opportunity to go.  It was encouraging to see so many people from around the world working toward a common vision.

Ashley Carter is a second year Masters student in Nutrition Communication at the Friedman School and is also completing the DPD at Simmons College to become a Registered Dietitian. She loves cooking and enjoying good food with friends and family, and she is thankful to go to school with so many people who love the same things! 

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