Italian Historian, Director of
Collins LLC and of the IU Food Project
INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOD PROJECT
In the summer of 2012 at the American Academy in Rome (AAR), I sat down to lunch across from Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project. I was a fellow at the Academy in 1998-99 (when I was working on my Pinocchio book - see publications page) and go back when I can. Alice instead, at the request of then Academy president Adele Chatfield Taylor, had recently created the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the Academy. The latter is a wonderful initiative that brings a series of interns to Rome to work with the Project chef and staff in producing sustainable and delicious meals at the AAR. It is hard to overestimate how much the project has contributed to building community and the overall experience at the Academy. Prior to that experiment Alice had been behind creation of the Yale Sustainable Food Project (YSFP - at the university attended by her daughter). In any case, I had by then completed my first year as director of the Collins Living Learning Center (see Collins page) and suggested, perhaps foolishly, that I might do something similar at Collins and IU. Alice was immediately supportive of the initiative (and indeed has continued to be so). So began three years of promoting the creation of an Indiana Food Project. I canvased faculty, contacted student and other groups, participated in the Sawyer seminar on "Food Choice, Freedom, and Politics" in 2012-13, created a Collins Sustainable Food Committee, served as faculty co-chair on the IU Office of Sustainability’s Food Working Group (FWG), promoted the Real Food Challenge at IU, and hosted a series of Food Summits under the auspices of the FWG. The IU College of Arts and Sciences encouraged me to combine my proposal with that of food scholars Peter Todd (Cognitive Sciences) and Rick Wilk (Anthropology) who had sponsored the 2012-13 Sawyer seminar mentioned above. From that was born, in summer 2015, the IU Food Institute of which the IU Food Project (IUFP) is a part. I am now director of both. In addition to hosting a seminar series and promoting faculty and grad student research in the area of food studies, we are promoting undergraduate initiatives related to food and the interaction of food with the environment, health, and – yes – pleasure. I have also designed an undergraduate certificate in food studies that is now an option for IU undergrads.