Our food and taste education projects are different from any others as they start from the idea that food means pleasure, culture and conviviality, and that the act of eating can influence values and behavior.
Slow Food supports an innovative approach to food and taste education based on the reawakening and training of the senses and the study of food from land to table. Tasting food is an integral part of the process, as it helps tell the story of small-scale quality production, and highlights the differences between it and industrial food.
Our educational programs are organized at all levels and for everyone, from children and teachers to members and event-goers. Participants are given the opportunity to learn methods and tools for a critical and more considered approach to food, thereby becoming more knowledgeable in their consumer choices.
We want to extend the invitation to eat with enjoyment and consciousness, offering a pleasurable way to increase understanding of good, clean and fair food and regional traditions.
The pervasiveness of modern fast life and an industrialized food system often means that young people and children may never develop a meaningful relationship with the food they eat, or learn where it comes from and how it got on their plates.
Food education is commonly reduced to nutritional coursework in schools and takes a disciplinary stance. In contrast, Slow Food’ education for children focuses on the senses and introduces the principle of pleasure: of discovery, playfulness and conviviality at the table. This sensory approach also leads to discussions about food cultures, regions and seasonality as well as the differences between industrial and artisanal products.
Food education for children is also an important part of Slow Food’s events, both at major happenings such as Slow Fish and Cheese, and at the the multitude of local and regional events and workshops organized by Slow Food convivia across the world. Activities and workshops introduce young children to the world of good food, with many utilizing Slow Food’s To the Origin of Taste kit as a basis.
- Slow Food UK brings their Taste Adventure to many events across the country including the Children’s Food Festival in South Oxfordshire.
- In Uganda, Slow Food Mukuno have developed a program that introduces students to local fruits and vegetables, their flavors and traditional uses.
- In Belarus, Slow Food has developed a school curriculum that allows students to study the differences between industrial and artisanal food production using their senses.
Slow Food convivia organize hundreds of small events each year for adults who want to refine their sensory skills and expand their knowledge and appreciation of food. By working with local producers and chefs and organizing practical courses, visits to farms and markets, local producer dinners, films and discussions, convivia bring taste education and awareness of topical food issues to a broader public.
Slow Food first used the Taste Workshop in 1994 and since then, it has become a fundamental component of all the international Slow Food events and is the basis for hundreds of events held by convivia each year. During these on-hour sessions, participants experience the qualities and characteristics of products, guided by the producers themselves along with expert, cooks etc. The workshops are enormously successful meeting the desire many people have to better relate to food firsthand in a pleasurable way.
The Master of Food program is a food education project for adults developed by Slow Food Italy, consisting of 23 courses that are only available to Slow Food members. On completion of 15 of these, participants are awarded the Master of Food. The idea is not to train professionals, but to bring knowledge to consumers, stimulating their curiosity and promoting responsible choice-making. The program is organized by individual convivia according to their members' interests.
Teacher training courses were developed in Italy to disseminate a particular approach to food education: an approach focused on sensory and taste culture to compliment the nutritional programs that are often conducted in schools. Slow Food Italy has been accredited by the Ministry of Public Instruction and Education, allowing the organization to formally train teachers in schools. The courses are held over several sessions and focus on cultural context, pedagogy and tasting techniques drawing on creative and scientific sensory analysis.
Slow Food Italy has also developed a training program for territory students and teachers of hospitality schools, encouraging the former to become guardians of regional culture and tradition. In addition to taking courses to increase their sensory knowledge, students are guided in developing a deep understanding of food regions through direct contact with regional products and research into their history, production chain, distribution and marketing channels and particular taste profiles.