JWU News

Food Leaders Convene at JWU Denver for Slow Food Nations Summit

Future of the Food Movement panel at the 2018 Slow Food Nations Leader Summit, hosted at JWU’s Denver Campus.

8/1/18 | Food movement leaders from across the US, Canada and beyond convened at JWU’s Denver Campus for Slow Food Nations’ Slow Food Leader Summit in early July.

Agenda topics ranged from the ethics of meat eating to initiatives to support equity in the food chain and to ensure that farmers’ voices are heard.

Participants included such outspoken advocates as:

  • Raj Patel, research professor and author, “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System”
  • Chef Rick Bayless, James Beard Award winner
  • Chef Ann Cooper, Boulder Valley School District director of food services
  • Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana + Food for Soul

Since its founding in 1989, Slow Food’s mission to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and encourage public engagement around good, clean and fair food has grown into a global movement.

“As an international leader of culinary education we recognize the importance of food to our everyday lives and its global impact,” noted JWU Denver President Richard Wiscott. “We were honored to host the summit on our campus so people could come together to have inspiring and passionate conversations about food.”

The “slow food” movement also aligns with JWU’s Changing the Way the World Eats campaign, a public awareness effort to encourage healthy eating and to emphasize the university’s influence on the world’s food decisions, industry choices, and overall health and well-being. In his opening remarks for the “Future of the Food Movement” panel, JWU Denver College of Culinary Arts Dean Jorge de la Torre said, “I am grateful to be surrounded by such talented people in the food industry dedicated to positive world change.”

When asked “What would you tell your younger self to help you better understand the food system?,” Raj Patel answered, “I would tell my 20-something self to study Agroecology and that it is wise to be humble in front of nature.” Rick Bayless spoke of looking at everyone as a potential ally “because you never know when when those allies will emerge. In the good food movement we should all be on the same team — because we are all working for good food for the greatest number of people.”

Later, Bayless elaborated on the importance of farmers to community-building: “Farmers create community on their farms and in the markets where they do their selling. In both of those places they are essential to the fabric of our country. Without farmers we don’t have community, and without buying local you have no people you can actually relate to on a human scale.”

Chef Ann Cooper spoke of making fresh foods a foundation from kindergarten on: “If you see what is fed to kids at school, it’s highly processed, prepackaged and high in sugar, fat and salt — very little of it has any connection to what a farmer might actually produce. If we want to change the food system truly for the next generations, we have to change how we feed kids in schools and teach kids about food literacy.”

Media & Communication Studies major Miyana Shively '20 attended the conference and was inspired by what she saw as philosophical synergy between Slow Food and JWU: “I love Denver and our campus because our community understands the value of creating a safe space for those affected by inequity and injustice, where people of all identities [can] take the time to listen, share their experiences and inspire compassion where it is needed. Encouraging one’s peers to speak is an important step in building community.”

Johnson & Wales University prides itself on working with organizations and food leaders who share similar positive values, and the 2018 Slow Food Nations Summit was an inspiring gathering focused on building a sustainable future — together.

Follow JWU Denver + Slow Food USA on Twitter.

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ABOVE: GROUP PHOTO FROM THE FUTURE OF FOOD PANEL, L-R: RICHARD MCCARTHY (SLOW FOOD USA), DEB ESCHMEYER, ANN COOPER, DEAN DE LA TORRE, RICK BAYLESS, JEFF TRIPICIAN, BEN BURKETT, RAJ PATEL, WOODY TASCH + JOHN IKERD. BELOW: RAJ PATEL WITH JWU DENVER PRESIDENT WISCOTT; CHEF COOPER WITH DEAN DE LA TORRE, PRESIDENT WISCOTT AND CHEF BAYLESS.

Author + food advocate Raj Patel (left) with JWU Denver President Richard Wiscott

Chef Ann Cooper with JWU Denver Dean de la Torre, President Wiscott and Chef Rick Bayless

Topics: Denver Culinary Arts Sustainability