by Jenna Schweitzer
This article first appeared on Generation Response, one of Emory University’s campus publications.
In her office, Julie Shaffer has a life-size cardboard cut-out of a farmer, a Georgia map that shows which Georgia farms provide what produce to Emory, and wooden cooking utensils on her desk. Her colorful office is filled with all sorts of stuff; it not only reflects Julie’s colorful personality, but her array of responsibilities as well.
Since August 2008, Julie has been the Sustainable Food Service Education Coordinator at Emory. Before that, she worked at a public high school for 30 years teaching AP art in drawing, painting, and design. So how did she get from teaching art to teaching about sustainable food? “I’ve always had an interest in food and cooking and growing food,” Julie explains, “I’ve always liked to eat.” However, it was more than her love of food; it was her love of Slow Food.
Slow Food, which has grown into a worldwide network of volunteers, began in Italy in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonalds near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slow Food Emory’s Rachel Levine explains, “Slow Food is stopping to think about the broader picture of the food we eat with an appreciation for what we put into our bodies and our surrounding community. Simply put, Slow Food is ‘good, clean, and fair food,’”
Julie first heard about Slow Food while vacationing in Italy in 1999. When she returned home, she called the newly established U.S. chapter to find out about getting involved. When the phone call ended, she had agreed to start a Slow Food chapter in Atlanta. She did, and now Julie is the volunteer regional governor of Southeast Slow Food. “Julie has been a major contributor to the Slow Food movement in Atlanta and the entire southeast. She knows just about everyone there is to know when it comes to food in Atlanta,” explains Green Bean President Emily Cumbie-Drake.