Slow Food supports an innovative approach to taste education based on the reawakening and training of the senses and the study of food production techniques.
Slow Food views tasting as an instructive, awareness-raising experience.
Slow Food organizes educational programs at all levels and for everyone, from children and teachers to members and event-goers.
Slow Food Taste Education projects are different from any others insofar as they are based on the idea that food means pleasure, culture and conviviality, and that the act of eating can influence values, attitudes and emotions.
By attending courses and visiting farms and markets, Slow Food convivium members refine their sensory skills and expand their knowledge and appreciation of food. By working with schools and local producers and organizing conferences with authors and experts, convivia bring taste education and awareness of topical food issues to a broader public.
In Italy they help organize a Master of Food program covering 23 subjects of gastronomic interest. In 2007, about 9,500 people participated in the 400 courses organized round the country during the year. The initiative has now been successfully launched in Japan.
Slow Food convivia work with schools all over the world to bring taste education to children.
The Slow Food Dublin Convivium joins forces with Eurotocques, a pan-European group of chefs dedicated to promoting quality food, to celebrate the European Day for Healthy Food and Cooking for Children. For three years now, the two organizations have worked together on an education project in schools to encourage students and families to consume locally grown seasonal products. Chefs also intervene directly in the classroom to guide children through the pleasures of cooking and eating.
The Slow Food Central Rift Valley Convivium is collaborating with the Network For Eco-farming in Africa to acquaint local school children with organic agriculture and traditional vegetables. The students’ produce is harvested by the school cook and forms the basis of daily lunch menus. Not only are the young minds now better nourished, they have also heightened their awareness of the destruction of the Kenyan rainforest and have planted trees around the garden to commemorate the loss.
The Slow Food Sault Sainte Marie Convivium organizes ‘random food’ cooking classes for sixth-graders: tasty snacks using fresh ingredients that are easy for young hands to make. Supported by the Ontario Ministry of Education, these courses have so far enjoyed three years of success, inspiring kids to replace junk food with vegetable pitas and fruit smoothies.
Since 2006, Slow Food has sponsored the ‘Edible School Garden’ at Wembley Downs Primary School. The project environment instills in pupils an understanding of where their food comes from and seasonality. Everything in the garden is nutritious and ultimately provides a feast for the school community; even the weeds are steeped in water to make ‘tea’ that feeds the other plants.
The Slow Food Styria Convivium’s Schulgärten project, involving 16 schools, started in 2005 with the creation of a sensory guide of 20 taste education activities. In 2007, students and teachers published a breakfast book emphasizing the importance of the first meal of the day and presenting recipes developed with the all-natural produce grown at the schools. As an end of the year pay-off, the children hold a market selling the bounty of the late spring season, proceeds from which are used to buy seeds for the next year. The project has attracted expert support and development funding from the European Union. It even has its own agronomist, who educates the teachers and students and provides technical advice. She also oversees seed exchanges amongst the different schools that serve as social occasions for kids to talk about their results while also making friends.