Through its educational activities, Slow Food endeavors to create a new connection between food, the land and people. Various initiatives are organized for members and the public, and for both adults and children: innovative Taste Education approaches based on the discovery of food through the senses – taste and pleasure of food – as well as a commitment to clean production, short food chains, protecting local cultures and traditions and giving recognition to small food producers. Using a wide range of methods - stories, simulation, cinema, tastings, school gardens - Slow Food education promotes a move from consumer to co-producer.
This approach is focused on helping people to better understand where food comes from, how and by whom it is produced. Many education projects develop through the creation of a “learning community” - bringing together different people with varied skills (e.g. parents, farmers, dieticians, teachers, city councilors and cooks) whose joint influence can bring about better, more aware and more responsible food choices.
While some countries have an extensive Slow Food network that has been focusing on education for years, other regions are in the very early stages, with just a few convivia that are slowly, but creatively integrating education into their activities. From Uganda to Canada to Italy, Slow Food is developing innovative educational activities all around the world. To read more about these activities, download the Slow Learning report here.
To bring Taste Education approach to more people, the Slow Food Education Office produced a new kit To the Origins of Taste in 2009. Available in eight languages, the sensory course is made up of three elements: an introductory video in which participants are familiarized with basic taste concepts; a series of interactive games to be set up at six sensory stations and a pre-recorded, guided tasting. The kit has had around 350 requests so far, mainly by convivium leaders, and it has been used across all continents at community events and in schools, and is getting very positive feedback.
Another international project launched this year is the Slow Food Dream Canteen, a European network of schools working towards better student meals and increased awareness of food issues. So far 18 schools from 16 countries are participating in the project, each working on various aspects of improving their canteen service: reviewing tenders, shortening the food chain to use fresher, seasonal local food, waste management, promoting conviviality and healthy food during meals, as well as integrating sensory education and food culture topics to their classrooms.
In 2010, Slow Food will reflect on the wealth of experiences generated by our education projects around the world and bring them together to produce a Slow Food Taste Education Manifesto. This manifesto will provide a clear, common platform for the future, and will be presented at Terra Madre in 2010.