Week 8/ EXTRA CREDIT #2/ Patrick Morales

Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences
February 27, 2009, 7:00 pm

David Szanto is a North American representative and graduate of the Masters program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy.  The university of around 250 students was founded on the principles of slow food.  Slow food is food that is “good, clean, and fair” for the grower, the producer, the buyer and everyone in between, but more importantly it is about finding pleasure in food.  It is in direct opposition to the fast food movement occurring around the world.

After an initial introduction and an explanation of the universities beginnings, Szanto began to talk about the deeper approach to food that is fostered at the school.  Seeing the food system as not just one subject but how many subjects relate to each other is a main theme that is taught at the school.  Gastronomy, Szanto explained is the study of every level of food production, it is the understanding of the pleasure of food, from its taste and smell, to the beauty of fermentation processes of wine or the curdling if milk.  Szanto quoted Carlo Petrini: “One cannot be a gastronome without being an environmentalist and if you are a gastronome and not an environmentalist then that is just sad”.  This is exactly the kind of interconnectivity that Professor Vesna has been exposing us students to these past weeks.  It’s not just that two or more subjects would be “cool” to collaborate; it’s more of a greater social responsibility to understanding that all things are interconnected no matter how severely reductionist we wish to be.  I am beginning to fully understand that merging fields that historically might have been considered irrelevant creates new academic subjects and means of exploration.

Szanto frequently reiterated that the slow food movement is one that seeks sustainable food practices and systems. The food industry requires countless resources, but is vital to human survival.   I believe that the “sustainable movement” being enforced by a dwindling amount of the world’s resources will be the string that pulls distant fields closer to each other.  Szanto spoke of how specialization fits perfectly in the engine of capitalism but how the expert generalist who “see” the interconnectivity possible between fields are the next pioneers in the job market.  I liked the fact that he mentioned this very pragmatic view because Desma 9 has been grounded in theory, ideas and creativity (which I think is fantastic), but a realist point of view is welcome in my opinion.  The world is desperate need of expert generalist who can do a little of everything, those who are “connecters” but are we ready for them?  We are in need of more professor Vesna’s! What will the job market look like in the future?  The big message that I got from the presentation was that new jobs would be created for expert generalist, jobs that don’t fit into conventionally specialized fields, but instead jobs that linger on the fringes of every field looking for opportunities to merge worlds.   I have to say: I would not mind a career in being a bridge.

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