Model Food Systems in Italy
During her quarter abroad in Florence in her Junior year, Ashley Geo (Human Biology, ’15) was struck by the Italians’ attitude and devotion towards all aspects of food, the focus on local products, the high quality and freshness, as well as a more centralized, family-oriented culture of consumption. While in Italy, Ashley also discovered Slow Food International, a nonprofit, grassroots organization primarily based in Italy, which seeks to promote food that is “Good, Clean, and Fair.”
Following her quarter abroad with the BOSP program, Ashley decided to spend a month in Italy on her own, to learn more about the inner workings of Slow Food International. With aid from her Senior Synthesis advisor, she organized interviews with several representatives of Slow Food across Italy. The aim of her project is to understand how each player of the organization works -- from producers, to vendors, to manufacturers. By synthesizing these various interviews and observations, she hopes to shed light on the pros and cons of this Slow Food’s network and mission.
Through this research, Ashley combines her interests in healthcare, holistic well-being, and preventative care, issues that she has explored earlier in her course work in the Human Biology Core, as well as upper division classes in biology, health, and nutrition. At the same time, she has been able to exercise her command of the Italian language that she developed through campus language courses, and has deepened her knowledge of Italian culture and culinary tradition. The outcome of her project will be a marriage of two components: A written analysis of the Slow Food network, as well as an online synthesis, in blog format, of her day-to-day journal entries, conversations, and photos she collected during her research period in Italy. Additionally, she also holds the position of Academic Theme Associate in La Casa Italiana, where she assists the in-house seminar, “Italian Food Culture & Cooking.” This course seeks to engage students in the values that guide Italian food culture, through public speakers, cooking workshops, and discussions.