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C of I students studying ‘Slow Food’ in Italy

Most college students are all-too-familiar with fast food. Far fewer know of “slow food,” but a dozen students at The College of Idaho are immersing themselves in the topic through the environmental studies special topics class “Slow Food in Italy.”

The class, led by C of I professors Jim Angresano, Rochelle Johnson and Don Mansfield, will study the slow food movement first-hand this spring, traveling to northern Italy March 21 to spend ten days learning about the impact local, healthy, high-quality food can have on communities.

“The slow food movement started in Italy,” Angresano said. “And it’s not just about eating slowly; it’s an entire way of life and an ideology about building a community through healthy, local food and a focus on quality rather than quantity.”

The C of I group is visiting five cities in the ten days, including  Trento and Bolzano, where the students will experience slow food by visiting farmer’s markets, touring farms and, of course, sampling a wide variety of delicious, local Italian foods.  Other stops include Verona, Venice and Munich, Germany.

While the topic of slow food is relatively new to most of the C of I group, it is of special interest to Katy Stewart. The senior from Coeur d’Alene has worked to increase environmental awareness during her four years on campus, and she traveled to Italy last summer while working on her anthropology and sociology senior thesis honors project  “Food ideology, sense of place, and regulations: A cross-cultural comparison of American and Italian Cheese Making.”

“I really like this idea of producing and consuming food that is clean, good for you and produced in a just way both for people and the environment,” said Stewart, who also is majoring in environmental studies and minoring in interactive journalism at the C of I. “I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Italy and expanding on my project as we learn more.”

This spring, Stewart is presenting her thesis paper at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, taking place April 11-13 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. NCUR is the nation’s largest and most prestigious conference dedicated to showcasing undergraduate research. She’s also sharing her paper April 27 at the C of I Student Research Conference inside the Langroise Center. To learn more about the project, check out Stewart’s blog at www.untilweeatagaintrip.wordpress.com.

Angresano is hopeful that the group’s experience in Italy – and the continuing education on campus and beyond by the C of I faculty and students like Stewart – will help students change their eating habits.

“By and large, college students don’t eat very well,” Angresano said. “Through this course, they are going to experience food that’s probably better than anything they’ve ever eaten. They’re going to see healthier people and healthier communities than they see at home. And I think that will have a positive impact on their lives and, hopefully, the lives of others, too.”

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.