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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, Ireland

A Matter of Choice

In the small town of Lisdoonvarna in the County Clare, Ireland, the local supermarket’s shelves are filled with a wide variety of foods, from the larger industrial brands to the more local items, which makes daily food choices a challenge for the 250 students of Mary Immaculate Secondary School who frequently buy their lunch in local shops. Through the Slow Food in the Canteen project, the school is working with the Slow Food Clare convivium to organize a series of tasting workshops with local food businesses to equip students with knowledge and taste experiences to make better daily food choices.

Promoting Local

With no canteen, catering service, food dispensers or snacks provided, the students usually buy their lunch from the supermarket near the school or from a number of local cafés. “There are plenty of great local foods in the local shop and we would like to encourage the children to make better choices and utilize these great local foods,” says Birgitta Hedin Curtin, Slow Food Clare Convivium Leader. “One way we would like to do this is to take students to visit producers. Already they have been to see a smoked salmon producer and learn about the process.”

In working towards this goal, the school is trialling a voucher system with their 16 year olds in their transitional year, where vouchers can be bought through the school and used at a pre-selected group of retailers who support local producers.

Slow Food Clare Convivium is a great resource for the school since it already has experience working with schools to raise awareness about local shopping and healthy eating. This convivium holds the Burren Slow Food Festival, in which the students participated, and this year worked with the school’s fourth year students on projects of how to incorporate Slow Food principles into daily food choices. 

Food in the Classroom

As part of the European canteen project, Mary Immaculate has recently started two projects integrating food into other areas of study.  As a preliminary activity on the path towards improving food choices, the students are analyzing a local food business through their business studies class taught by teacher Shane Slattery. The second project involves primary students who are learning about the environment and its connection with food by conducting an energy and waste assessment of Burren Smoke House, a local food business. They also conduct taste workshops and discover how a successful food business is run.  While currently the curriculum includes nutrition lessons and cooking classes, its is hoped that this will expand in the near future to include cooking demonstrations, visits to farms and producers and taste workshops with the aim that students will be encouraged to buy good, clean and fair local foods. Along with teacher and Terra Madre delegate Shane Slattery, some students will attend the Terra Madre world meeting in October this year.

Two Heads are Better than One

Since the school is relatively new to running food related projects, it has joined forces with the Dr Ion Ratiu Nursery school in Turda, Romania through the growing Slow Food in the Canteen school network. This provides the school with a resource to seek advice and gain feedback, as well as the opportunity to visit the school in Romania to see and learn from a successful project.

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