Slow Food, an organization that promotes good, clean, fair food with chapters worldwide now has a club on campus.
With more than 200 campus chapters in the United States, each group says food should taste good; be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work, said Margo Stoner, the vice president of Cal Poly Slow Food.
“The mission of Slow Food is to connect plate and planet, to protect the heritage of food,” Stoner said.
Kristine Creveling, the marketing director of the Cal Poly chapter, said that by creating the Cal Poly chapter of Slow Food, she wants to get the San Luis Obispo community more interested in shopping locally and cooking fresh meals.
“Current American culture has become so streamlined with their mass-produced food. Slow Food members want to bring back food traditions, promote locally grown food and help people remember to take your time to enjoy the food you eat as well as take the time to know where it comes from and how it is produced,” Creveling said.
Cristina Vetere, the president of the Cal Poly chapter, said that despite the crowds of people who frequent the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market Thursday nights, only 13 percent of people buy produce.
Vetere said he wants to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle by teaching how to prepare home-cooked meals rather than turning to quicker options.
“It’s basically the opposite of fast food. We want people to go back to a traditional, more simple way of life,” Vetere said. “The production of food these days is all about cheap, fast and convenient. We want to slow everybody down.”
Jorge Montezuma, an environmental engineering senior, is interested in joining the club because he likes the idea of taking time to make healthy food.
“It has the essence of slowing things down a tad, bringing students back to home cooking and sharing delicious and strange foods with friends,” Montezuma said.
Not only does the club want to inform the public about how making good food choices impacts people’s health, but also about how buying locally grown food benefits the environment.
“Going out and buying 20 Lean Cuisines packaged in cardboard and then in plastic and then in a plastic container again really creates a lot of trash,” Creveling said.
Instead, people can replicate a microwave meal by buying vegetables and chicken locally and cooking a healthier version for less money with no impact on the environment, Creveling said.
During fall quarter, the club gave a presentation at the Hands on Health fair where they did a cost analysis of a meal bought at the grocery store verses a meal bought at a farmers market.
What they found was that the farmers market meal was substantially cheaper and of better quality, Vetere said.
“Buying locally grown foods compared to produce that has been shipped from elsewhere saves gas for the transportation of the product, chemicals and a ton of money,” Creveling said.
With fresh produce readily available, people in the San Luis Obispo community should take advantage of local foods, Stoner said.
“We are so fortunate to live in the Central Coast, with food being produced right in our communities,” Stoner said. “Go to farmers markets, enjoy products made by Cal Poly and actively support our local farms.”
Founded in 1986, Slow Food is not a new organization, but just became a club on campus this fall quarter.
Creveling first became aware of Slow Food while studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Italy is where the Slow Food movement began, which is appropriate because its culture revolves around good food in many ways, she said.
“A few restaurants in the Florence area were ‘slow food’ restaurants, meaning they bought all their food locally, used sustainable practices, etc. When I came back to Cal Poly, one of my professors was eager to start a Slow Food club, so I quickly started organizing with a few other nutrition majors.”
Jania Bose, the nutrition professor who expressed an interest in starting a Cal Poly chapter, helped the four nutrition students, Vetere and her sister Gabriella, Creveling and Stoner, to learn about the movement and apply for a club charter.
Since the club is so new, they have only held a few events thus far, one of which included having a booth at the Sustainable Agriculture Resource Consortium (SARC) fair.
“Tons of community members came up to our booth and told us how cool it was that we started a Slow Food. We met the editor of the Edible magazine and got to see Michael Pollan speak as well,” Creveling said.
For the upcoming winter quarter, the club is planning many events to try to get as many people interested in Slow Food as possible.
Some of the events include a screening of the documentary “Fresh” on campus for students and community members to view, cooking demonstrations every Saturday morning at the farmers market in Paso Robles and “eat-ins,” where people make food and talk about issues regarding food. The first event during winter quarter will be a tour of the Cal Poly Organic Farm, possibly accompanied by an “eat-in” at a date to be announced.
“We want to encourage people to start out slow, cooking maybe one fresh meal a week or picking up some apples from a farmers market. Then as people learn more, hopefully it will turn into something that people want to do,” Vetere said.
While the club is currently working on events for winter quarter, one long-term project includes having local foods sold in on-campus dining facilities.
By holding more events next quarter, the club hopes to get more support and members. The club has also created a Slow Food Cal Poly page on Facebook.
“By joining Slow Food Cal Poly, students can become members of an international community that is active in promoting a type of agriculture that is good for the consumer, producer, and farmer,” Stoner said. “The club offers groups of people from different backgrounds and majors a time to get together and discuss thoughts and ideas and, of course, eat.”