Slow Food in a Fast Food World: American Collegiate Chapters’ Approaches to Food Production Issues (Update 1)

My project can be divided into roughly four stages. Beginning in January, I contacted all collegiate Slow Food chapters who had contact information listed, asked for interviews, received appropriate paperwork, and set up appointments. This phase took far more patience than expected: of the twelve chapters I contacted, I received responses from six groups, and only three have led to interviews so far. This situation does not entirely adversely affect my project, as my research focuses on active Slow Food chapters. Moreover, the chapters that participated organize a large variety of events and discuss many different topics.

The second stage of my research was the interviews themselves. These I completed mid-May, shortly after the end of the semester when other college students were no longer taking classes but also not yet traveling abroad. I interviewed Slow Food chapters from Clemson University, a coed, public university of about 23,000 in rural Clemson, South Carolina; Emory University, a coed, private university of about 15,000 in urban Atlanta, Georgia; and the University of Vermont, a coed public university of about 10,000 in suburban Burlington, Vermont.

Throughout my interviews I found several trends: first, that the chapter’s location greatly impacts its values and the choice of topics discussed; that even within a single chapter, topics fluctuate based on members’ interests; and that topics are addressed in many ways, from educational events including movie screenings and panel discussions to hands-on approaches such as preparing dinner in compliance with Slow Food standards or volunteering.

As determined by these interviews, my three main topics are migrant justice (a topic explored in-depth by the University of Vermont’s Slow Food chapter), problems of access to food and food insecurity in the United States as related to SNAP-type benefits (Slow Food Emory University’s primary theme), and the importance of eating local food and helping local farmers (Slow Food Clemson University’s priority). Thus, the next stage in my project will be to read literature about these topics, especially as they relate to each chapter’s region, followed by the presentation of my conclusions.

Link to Abstract; Link to Update 2Update 3