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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

Dr. I.Mesota, C.N. Saguna and C.N Unirea colleges, Brasov, Romania

Taste is on the agenda for all three high schools situated in the city of Brasov

Taste is on the agenda for all three high schools situated in the city of Brasov, Romania who are participating in the European Schools for Healthy Food project, facilitated locally by Slow Food Bran-Moeciu Convivium. Project coordinator Manuela Palamari said that the lack of knowledge amongst students about food diversity, fruit and vegetable varieties and healthy eating in general, inspired the convivium to develop a creative taste education program which is now an important part of extra curricular activities at the three schools: Colegiul "Dr. I.Mesota", C.N. Saguna and C.N Unirea.

Getting Creative with Food
"Students were eating a lot of junk food before we started the project and since some of the schools don't have a canteen or have dysfunctional canteens, in 2008 we began addressing these issues through taste education," says Manuela. "We use the Slow Food taste education kit In What Sense and run interactive workshops, organizing creative activities like making postcards that use text and graphics to communicate relevant messages or a darts game that includes questions about vegetables." "Our activities aim to increase the students' knowledge of the provenance of food and the diversity of tastes, fruit and vegetable varieties and animal breeds, and through this process to encourage students to find pleasure in food, cooking and eating. Therefore, we also sometimes cook together for shared meals or events, and on one occasion each student prepared a dish following one of their grandparents' recipes."

Spreading the Message
Together there are about 300 students, aged between nine and fourteen, who are directly involved in the project, however a far greater audience is reached through their families and peer-education. Having had good results with these workshops in the high schools, the convivium is set to launch a taste education project with kindergartens in June 2011 - coordinating with Child's Day in Eastern Europe. Currently the project also reaches beyond the school students through a series of workshops in collaboration with the Palamari's Cultural Center. Cooking classes and tastings of local foods with the producers are held, with a focus on two main products - Branza de Burduf, a cheese unique to Bran-Moeciu, and jams made from local forest fruits. "We organize these activities not only for the students but also for teachers and other educators and we plan to focus more on training teachers about taste education in the future," says Manuela.

A National Challenge
"So far the project has been well received by the local community, especially the teachers and parents who are very supportive, however there are some issues that need to be addressed at a national level and it is here we have experienced a challenge to getting people to participate," said Manuela. "This was apparent at a recent national European Schools for Healthy Food conference, where we invited NGO's, teachers, parents and other relevant groups - it is not a question of energy or finances, but rather a lack of understanding of the importance of taste education".

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