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'Slow Food' at Hampshire

During spring semester, Tannis Catlett 06F and Tam Nguyen 06F came up with an idea. The two were familiar with the Slow Food movement, which aims at supporting local and sustainable methods of food production and cooking. By starting a Slow Food group at Hampshire, they thought, more students could be introduced to the concept (while also, incidentally, sitting around eating some great food). This fall, they are building on their early steps from last spring when they hosted the first Hampshire Slow Food meeting of the new semester in the Dakin Living Room.

"Since we talk about food so often at this school, I thought it would be good to take on a big topic," said Catlett.

Around a dozen students showed up for their first meeting in September, which started off with a hands-on introduction to the subject in the form of a vegetable and tofu stir fry, corn chowder and apple crisp (the latter courtesy of Sarah Hunter 05F).

"Everything we're using, aside from the condiments, is local," said Catlett as she chopped up an eggplant grown in Sunderland.

Corn from an Amherst farm, apples straight from a Hampshire College orchard, and a wide mix of other fruits and vegetables demonstrated that, at least during the harvest season, the Valley is filled with options for students looking to support local agriculture. This aspect particularly appealed to Nguyen.

"I guess I'm more into the economics of slow foods, of food as a commodity," she said.

Many different aspects of the Slow Food movement were discussed over dinner, from the preservation of traditional approaches to cooking to the diversity of crops in different regions of the world. Catlett and Nguyen plan regular meetings throughout the year, most to be held in Dakin Living Room for one good reason:

"It has a kitchen," said Catlett, who added that she and Nguyen won't be the ones in charge of cooking at future meetings. "We expect everyone to bring food themselves."

For more information about the club, visit or email

Tannis Catlett and Tam Nguyen Tam Nguyen 06F, who co-founded the Hampshire Slow Food group with Tannis Catlett 06F last spring, prepares one of the dishes served during the group's first meeting of the year. The group promotes the use of local food, and among the locally-grown crops on the menu for the first meeting were eggplants from Sunderland, corn from an Amherst farm, and apples grown right on the grounds of Hampshire College.
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