Slow Food in a Fast Food World: American Collegiate Chapters’ Approaches to Food Production Issues (Update 3)

I am now working on the final phase of my research project: editing the paper I wrote in Italian. Since my last update, I have researched food insecurity in the US, explored similar research projects, and spent about thirty hours writing my paper.

Food insecurity is a major issue in the United States, despite being near invisible. Approximately twelve percent of Americans (41,204,000 people) are unable to consistently obtain enough food to be healthy (“Map the Meal Gap”). Minority groups including immigrants, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans are especially affected, reflecting social inequalities that remain today (Gundersen 7; Nord, To What Extent 124; Vaccaro).

Naturally, malnutrition negatively affects health: food-insecure persons are more susceptible to anemia, asthma, birth defects, hypertension, lung disease, diabetes and obesity, the latter of which are often caused by cheap processed foods lacking nutrients (Vaccaro; Coleman-Jensen; Gundersen). Food insecure people are also more likely to smoke or use drugs, leading to other avoidable health problems (Gundersen; Vaccaro).

While government programs such as SNAP and EBT exist, they have largely been hindered by politics, as their budgets are revised every few years; in 2014, for example, SNAP’s budget was decreased by eight billion dollars (Anderson 114; Bonanno). Hence it is not surprising that the “numbers served are consistently below numbers that need to be served” (Anderson 114). Many other approaches have been suggested, including the establishment of a universal “right to food,” an increase of minimum wage, and the expansion of local food (Anderson; Gundersen 13; Nord, Prevalence of Food Insecurity; Kimberley).

From my research I have found that the three Slow Food chapters that I examined—Slow Food University of Vermont, Slow Food Clemson, and Slow Food Emory—largely aim to educate the public. Slow Food University of Vermont organizes charity dinners and movie nights; Slow Food Emory performs cooking demonstrations and encourages community discussion; and Slow Food Clemson cooks dinners for the community using locally-sourced ingredients. All three groups volunteer at a variety of non-profit organizations and visit nearby farms (Slow Food UVM; Slow Food Emory; Slow Food Clemson).

Other research projects involving Slow Food chapters generally examine groups outside the US, with the exception of two papers focusing on Slow Food University of Wisconsin-Madison. Two projects also focused on the connection between Slow Food and gastronomic tourism. Few of them discussed the chapters’ approaches to Slow Food topics in depth, which is why I undertook this project (Zepeda; Reznickova; Oliviera Martins; Jung; Broadway; Duñach). Naturally many questions remain to be explored, including how location affects a chapter’s main topic, how non-collegiate chapters approach Slow Food, how membership size affects activities, and how Slow Food International, Slow Food USA, and local Slow Food chapters work together.

Link to AbstractUpdate 1Update 2

Works Cited

Anderson, Molly D. “Beyond Food Security to Realizing Food Rights in the US.” Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 29, 2013, pp. 113–122., doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2012.09.004.

Bonanno, A., and J. Li. “Food Insecurity and Food Access in U.S. Metropolitan Areas.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, vol. 37, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 177–204., doi:10.1093/aepp/ppu032.

Broadway, Michael. “Implementing the Slow Life in Southwest Ireland: a Case Study of Clonakilty and Local Food.” Geographical Review,

Coleman-Jensen, Alisha Judith. “U.S. Food Insecurity Status: Toward a Refined Definition.” Social Indicators Research, vol. 95, no. 2, 2009, pp. 215–230., doi:10.1007/s11205-009-9455-4.

Duñach, M., et al. “Slow Food Al Vallès Oriental.” FairPlay, Revista De Filosofia, Ética y Derecho Del Deporte,

Gundersen, Craig, and James P. Ziliak. “Childhood Food Insecurity in the U.S.: Trends, Causes, and Policy Options.” The Future of Children, vol. 24, no. 2, 2014, pp. 1–19., doi:10.1353/foc.2014.0007.

  1. Jung, Timothy; Elizabeth Ineson, Amanda Miller. “The Slow Food Movement and sustainable tourism development: a case study of Mold, Wales.” International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 2014. vol. 8 no. 4 pp 432-445.

Kimberley, Miranda. “The importance of local food.” Horticulture Week; Teddington, Oct. 31, 2008, ProQuest,

“Map the Meal Gap.” Feeding America,

Nord, Mark, Alisha Coleman-Jensen and Christian Gregory. “Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food.” ERR-167, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, June 2014.

Nord, Mark. “To What Extent Is Food Insecurity in US Households Frequent or Persistent?” Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, vol. 8, no. 2, Mar. 2013, pp. 109–127., doi:10.1080/19320248.2013.786665.

Oliveira Martins, Uiara Maria; José Clerton de Oliviera Martins, Lorena Ibiapina Gurgel. “Experiências com a gastronomia local: um estudo de caso sobre movimento Slow Food e o turismo gastronômico na cidade de Recife – Brasil.” Pasos, 2016, vol. 14, no 1, pp 229-241.

Reznickova, A., and Zepeda, L. (2016) “Can Self‐Determination Theory Explain the Self‐Perpetuation of Social Innovations? A Case Study of Slow Food at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.” J. Community Appl. Soc. Psychol., 26: 3–17. doi: 10.1002/casp.2229.

Slow Food of Clemson University. Personal Interview, May 12, 2018.

Slow Food Emory. Personal Interview, May 13, 2018.

Slow Food UVM. Personal Interview, May 8, 2018.

Vaccaro, Joan A., and Fatma G. Huffman. “Sex and Race/Ethnic Disparities in Food Security and Chronic Diseases in U.S. Older Adults.” Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, vol. 3, 2017, p. 233372141771834., doi:10.1177/2333721417718344.

Zepeda, L. & Reznickova, A. Agric Hum Values (2017) 34: 167.


  1. ofrovin says:

    Hey Judith,
    Your research sounds super interesting and very relevant especially today in America. I took the class, Anthropology of Food, as my Freshman COLL 150 this past spring semester and loved it! We discussed the slow food movement as a response to the ever expanding fast food movement so I think it is really fascinating that you chose this as your topic. I also had no idea that there were slow food chapters at different universities. Would you consider starting something like this at William & Mary?
    Based on your research, do you think that the slow food movement can serve to aid with food insecurity in America or will it require some changes in the fast food movement instead? Good luck with the finishing touches on your paper, and I look forward to seeing your final product at the showcase in September!

  2. jmtauber says:

    Thank you for reading my posts and for your comment! Currently I am not planning on starting a Slow Food chapter at William and Mary, but should you be interested in forming one I would love it if you’d let me know!
    Slow Food believes that the best way to combat food insecurity lies in a redistribution of the food supply by encouraging and supporting the production and consumption of local foods, and thereby opposes approaches to food insecurity that promote an increase in efficiency in the production of food (which generally leads to a loss of necessary nutrients and all sorts of other problems). Naturally many differing opinions exist on which method would be most effective, but personally, I think that a redistribution of the food that is already being produced is better in the long run, as this supports local, traditional food systems.
    Anderson (cited below, for your reference) also proposes that a change in mentality is necessary to effectively combat food insecurity: she believes that people have a human “right to food.” Slow Food also supports and works towards this, as is evident in their motto “good, clean, fair food for all.” Thus yes, I think that the Slow Food movement can aid with solving food insecurity anywhere in the world (or at least in each chapter’s region), but I also think that the Slow Food movement alone is currently too “small” (it has around a million members) and its ideas not yet widespread enough to solve the problem completely.

    Anderson, Molly D. “Beyond Food Security to Realizing Food Rights in the US.” Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 29, 2013, pp. 113–122., doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2012.09.004.