‘Educated Eater’ lunch bridges food ethics, pleasure

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Lingnan Chen

Students attend the “Educated Eater” lunch, hosted by the Food Studies Project and Slow Food Texas, on Friday afternoon. These two groups aim to combine the enjoyment of food along with educational discussion of food issues by hosting free bi-weekly social lunches.

Tracy Frydberg

The Food Studies Project and Slow Food Texas are aiming to combine the enjoyment of food with education through a free biweekly social lunch for students.

The groups hosted the “Educated Eater” lunch, which offers students local food along with educational discussion about food issues. The program aims to connect students to food-related student organizations, and focuses on current cultural issues and trends concerning food.

Nutrition senior Jaclyn Anderson said Slow Food Texas is about reconnecting with one’s food and believes many people rush the experience of eating without fully appreciating it.

“By slowing the process of eating down and taking more time to understand where our food comes from, eating can be a pleasurable experience,” she said.

Alejandra Spector, Spanish senior and program developer of the Food Studies Project, said an important goal of the group is to focus on making ethical food decisions while enjoying local cuisine. Spector said the Food Studies Project hopes to educate both the food enthusiasts and food activists on the importance of understanding food.

“Debate between food ethics and food pleasure, or the foodies versus the activists, must be bridged,” Spector said. “You can get so much pleasure from knowing where your food comes from.”

Spector said that Slow Food Texas hopes that by slowing down the eating process people will be more aware of where and how they get their food.

“Food is culture and we are supposed to always be respectful of culture,” she said. “But what if culture is wrong? Am I allowed to even say that this is wrong?”

Solomon Wang, nutrition senior and food ambassador for the Food Studies Project, said the atmosphere of food culture in Austin tends to be more relaxed than elsewhere.

“Austin food culture is more casual and slow paced,” Wang said. “Restaurants in Austin have a community feeling.”

Daniel Heron, Spanish senior and member of the Food Studies Project, said he found food preferences in Austin to be different from his home of California.

“In California, it was all about the breakfast burrito, but here, it is all about the breakfast taco,” Heron said. “I had to adapt.”

Heron said the role of this new organization is to create a platform for food to be openly discussed and enjoyed. Heron said he has a long term goal of incorporating food education into every major at UT.

“We would like to create an institute at UT which focuses on food studies,” he said. “We are proving that there is demand for such an organization in order to receive funding.”

Printed on Monday, February 6, 2012 as: Educated Eater lunches give food for thought