Wednesday, 12 September 2012

FCC: Slow Food Columbus and People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability

Last Wednesday, and after having met two of our guests on Saturday, I'd say the stage was perfectly set for our second module which continued our overall September theme of the "Introduction to the Study of Food and Culture at Denison University." 

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Slow Food Columbus Bear Braumoeller began our second module with a presentation simply titled "Slow Food." With a crisp presentation setup and noted, smooth voice, Bear's presentation helped to explain Slow Food's history and what it actually is (as a movement in reaction to fast food, beginning with its resistance when introduced to the Italian palate), as well as some of the benefits of adopting such a lifestyle and what Slow Food Columbus does to support the Movement's mission. In particular, there was a consistent theme in highlighting the fact that the choices we make impact not only our individual lives, but those around us-- from nature's dwindling biodiversity to the farmer to the multi-billion dollar industries to our succeeding generations. Indeed, as he included in his presentation, and as Frances Moore Lappé has written, "Every decision we make about food is a vote for the kind of world we want." And who would have thought that answer to shaping the world we want begins with us as the consumer, the gardeners, the foodies? Simply put, Bear's message returned to three simple words: "Enjoy your food."

From a local group off-campus to a student organisation on campus, President Monica Edgerton and Treasurer Alanna Kaiser of People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability (PEAS) then spoke to us about the formation and activities of the group, as well as how its members work to support the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. Among the group's great work is a weekly (if not at least bi-monthly) trip to a local farm to tour and then help with anything that needs to be done, as well as participating in a community garden and building an herb garden on top of one of our dining halls (which provides compost for the planter boxes that the group built). The students also host Slow Food-esque dinners at the end of the growing season (quite a challenge, as they learned) and representatives also participate in an annual conference convened by OEFFA, the Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association which is conveniently hosted at Granville High School. At the conclusion of this second presentation, all three of our presenters (then joined by Founder and Chapter Leader of Slow Food Columbus Colleen Yuhn) answered audience questions for the rest of our time together.

Suggested readings for this session:
"Carlo Petrini: The Slow Food Gourmet Who Started a Revolution" (Peter Popham, 2009)
"Cruising on the Ark of Taste" (Michael Pollan, 2003)

Next week, our session will focus on the intersection between food and entrepreneurship, within the context of a global marketplace. Before then, we'll have our first In the Kitchen practicum focusing on "from scratch" recipes and primarily using ingredients from the Granville farmers market; if you're in the area, feel free to register! As a few side notes, tomorrow, I've got an interview with the news director of our student radio station (WDUB, around 4.20pm) and a student writer from The Denisonian (Denison's newspaper) stopped by to check out today's presentations. Hopefully as faculty, staff and students settle into the academic year and continue to hear about the colloquium we'll continue to garner more support and attendance!

For more information regarding the 2012-2013 Food and Culture Colloquium at Denison University, click here. To check out the growing album of photos from our colloquium sessions, click here.

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