Posts Tagged ‘david szanto’

Extra Credit: Gastronomy, Our “Fast” Society and Education by Ryan Andre Magsino

Sunday, March 15th, 2009


Extra Credit: Gastronomy, Our “Fast” Society and Education by Ryan Andre Magsino

How many times have you heard the phrase, “You are what you eat?” Maybe, just maybe, it is repeated time and time again for a reason. Joined by graduate and gastronome David Szanto, we took a plunge down the rabbit hole and looked at the art and science of gastronomy. Breaking the term gastronomy into its etymological roots, we arrive at gaster- meaning “stomach” and –nomos meaning “law.” In other words, gastronomy is the study of the relationship between culture and food.

At this point, you’re probably wonder, “Wait just a darn minute. Are you telling me that there are people who actually study this kind of thing?” Apparently, David Szanto does. He is a gastronome, a person who reads/writes about food. So then what differentiates him from the rest of us? Most of us read about food and comment on it with others. Well, as it would turn out, gastronomes put much emphasis on GOOD food. What exactly counts as good food?

Gastronome and Graduate David Szanto

Gastronome and Graduate David Szanto

Szanto himself hinted at an organization with a mindset on answering such a question – Slow Food. Originally spurred by Italians in response to the replacement of fine dining with fast food chains, the Slow Food movement and organization has spread throughout the world (over 218 chapters in the U.S. alone). They envision food as “a common language and a universal right.” Slow Food envisions a world “in which all people can eat food that good for them, good for people who grow it and good for the planet.” In somewhat of a direct response to the rise of fast food chains, USA Today comments, “Slow Food aims to be everything fast food is not.”

But in our endeavor of becoming a “fast” society – driving fast cars, making a fast profit, obtaining food as fast as possible – do we really have time to squabble with Slow Food’s vision? I hope so. If not, we jeopardize our environment and society subsequently. Food is linked directly to our environment. We need to safeguard society by enacting food-system sustainability. This type of ignorance isn’t anything new. The last time we ignored sustainability to push for a fast society ended up in the global warming controversy. Should we allow the same to be said about food?

Now what? What exactly are we to do? One word: “Education.” We need to educate ourselves and others about the need of food-system sustainability. But who are we supposed to turn to when our society is bought out by large fast food chains telling us what to think when it comes to food? (Admit it, the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger commercial stimulated your taste buds.) Gastronomes, that’s who. But are gastronomes even qualified to provide that information? Nowadays, gastronomes can even earn a degree proving such a qualification from the University of Gastronomical Sciences located in Italy. It may seem trivial to become a professional foods person per say; but if we really thought about food (what’s in it and how it’s made), we would probably go crazy. Thus, maybe we should leave the insanity to gastronomes and take their word into consideration.


To learn more about Slow Food, the University of Gastronomical Sciences, and other gastronomy related topics, visit the following links:

Fast Food Nation