‘Slow and Local Food’ Lecture by Visiting Italian Researcher

eggplant parmigiana
Italy is considered the birthplace of the “buy local/slow food” movement in 1986, when residents protested the opening of a McDonalds in Rome

Two special events; a lecture and sustainably-sourced lunch, will introduce a proposed new collaboration between the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and the Italian studies department to the campus. The cooperation could lead to student and faculty exchanges between the campus and the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Apulia, Italy, says organizer Frank Mangan, extension professor in the Stockbridge School.

The two events open to the campus community are:

  • Monday, Oct. 21, 4-5 p.m., public lecture, “Overview of Soil, Plant and Food Research at the University of Aldo Mori in Bari Italy,” in Paige Laboratories, room 202 by plant and soil scientist professor and department head Luigi Ricciardi.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, noon-1 p.m., lunch for students and staff honoring Ricciardi and other visitors featuring two traditional dishes from the Puglia region of Italy at the Berkshire Dining Commons. Reservations required, contact Melina Masterson, mamasterson@umass.edu

Italy is considered the birthplace of the “buy local/slow food” movement in 1986, when residents protested the opening of a McDonalds in Rome, Mangan points out. He feels that a collaboration with researchers there who have contributed to that movement and faculty researchers here in sustainable food production and Italian Studies is a natural marriage of interests and expertise that could benefit students and faculty at both institutions.

“We are very excited about the intersection of the science of agriculture, language and culture in this collaboration. UMass students and faculty interested in taking advantage of this initiative would be able to take classes through the Italian Studies program in preparation for their study time in Italy,” he says.

He explains, “Slow food focuses on taking pleasure in eating, of enjoying the freshest local ingredients from local food producers and preserving and celebrating local culinary traditions.” For the campus lunch, he says, “What better place to have this event than at one of the Dining Commons,” which sources from the local region year-round, serving over 6 million sustainable meals that feature smaller portions rooted in the “small plate, big flavor” philosophy. “That would be an appropriate way to describe the Italian national attitude toward food,” he adds.

Mangan points out that just as Italians who started the buy local/slow food movement expressed a deep desire to know the history of their food, where it comes from and the hands that have cultivated, worked and cooked it, UMass Amherst students have embraced the philosophy and Dining Services is offering more of it every year, supporting the New England food system while reducing waste.