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Carolina Sanchez Helps To Change the Way People Think About Food

Publication Date: 3/25/2011

Carolina holds a plate of food prepared by one of the Alliance of Chefs restaurants in Rome.

While students in Carolina Sanchez’s fall 2010 study abroad program in Rome were working as interns in offices and hospitals, the Rhodes junior was busy traveling around Rome to meet with chefs as part of an internship with Slow Food. Slow Food is a global, nonprofit organization that envisions a world in which more people have access to food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it, and good for the planet. Through education, celebrations, advocacy and outreach, the organization links the culinary pleasures of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

Sanchez worked with Slow Food’s Alliance of Chefs, which is a network of chefs who agree to have at least three Presidia products on their menu at all times. Presidia are food products made through sustainable farming. Sanchez also encouraged a handful of chefs to join the alliance and guided them through a catalogue of Presidia products.

“These are all products that are threatened by extinction,” Sanchez says. “For example, there is a certain type of lentil that has only four producers in all of Italy. We wanted to try to bring these products back into the market and back into people’s awareness so that they don’t become extinct.”

Sanchez says that she first became interested in the topic of sustainable food after reading Fast Food Nation. She started researching Slow Food, and how the organization fit in with her personal goals of eating well and how it encourages biodiversity in the food system. During her internship, she worked with four restaurants in Rome, all of which agreed to become Alliance of Chefs members.

When Sanchez returned to Rhodes, she joined the Slow Food chapter in Memphis and began incorporating some of the things she learned. Some of the Alliance of Chefs restaurants in Rome would host five-course dinners every few weeks, specifically aimed at highlighting the Presidia products on the menu. Sanchez has organized a similar dinner at Bari restaurant, located at 22 South Cooper St., on March 29 at 6:30 p.m.

The dinner will include five courses with each course paired with a different Italian wine. The meal will incorporate foods shipped in from Slow Food producers in Italy, and the rest of the ingredients will be locally grown food from Urban Farms in the neighboring Binghampton neighborhood. Sanchez, along with Robin Rodriguez, chapter president of Slow Food Memphis, and Mary Phillips, a farm manager from Urban Farms, will speak at the dinner. “When you have the producer there to speak, the dinner isn’t just about food on a plate,” Sanchez says.  “You’re able to educate people about what they are eating.”

Sanchez says at some point she hopes to plan on-campus events to raise awareness about local food. After graduating from Rhodes, Sanchez plans to pursue a master’s degree in food studies at New York University.  “Not only am I concerned about eating healthy, but also about the importance of food,” Sanchez says. “In the future, I’d like to change how people think about food in the United States.”

The March 29 dinner is $60 dollars for the public and $55 for Slow Food members. For more information, contact sanca@rhodes.edu.

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ’13)

Tags: Events, Service, Students

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