Taking it Slow

Slow Food UW serves a sense community and sustainability one meal at a time. 

What do you prioritize when indulging in a delicious home-made meal? Is it sustainability and the source of the ingredients? The price tag of the meal itself? Or maybe it’s the overall tastiness of the food. Regardless of what your particular preferences may be, you never have to compromise at Slow Food UW, where the non-profit boasts of having “good, clean, fair food for all”.

History and Vision

Slow food was founded by Carlo Petrini in 1989, where a vision was born to “combat the rise of fast food and reconnect people to traditional, regional cuisine”. Throughout the years, the organization has greatly expanded and evolved to exemplify the inherent connections between food, culture, and the environment. 

Almost 20 years later, Slow Food UW was founded by Genya Erling in order to bring local foods from Wisconsin farmers to students and community members on campus. The organization is currently pioneered by a small group of students, interns, and volunteers who spend their days cooking and appreciating local food together. Slow Food UW has grown significantly from its founding and continues to grow as members and volunteers spread the word. Their mission sets itself apart from the greater Slow Food movement by seeking to provide “good, clean, fair food at an affordable price for all”. 

Friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike meet and share a meal together – family style. For only $5, you can partake in a three-course, locally sourced and delicious meal created from chefs across the Madison area. Each week a new chef creates the menu, resulting in a diverse program that allows for all sorts of different foods and flavors from across the local region. 


Slow Food UW is guided by its beliefs in sustainability, where community members and participants within the food system can actively support community wellbeing and health, clean food production, and the environment. Behind this principle is the value of transparency, where people should be able to identify where and how their food is produced, therefore prompting the support of local Wisconsin farmers and providers.

By hosting chefs from different restaurants, Slow Food UW supplies dignified and nutritious food from a vast and diverse array of sources. From delicious tiramisu from UW’s Italian Club, to Trinidad Pumpkin Pelau from South Madison, Slow Food UW never fails to switch up your palate and provide a locally sourced meal. The most recent meal I attended collaborated with chef Laila from the Persian restaurant JOON, where my friend and I feasted on rainbow cabbage coleslaw, veggie goulash with garlic potatoes, and a sweet potato pudding for dessert. Laila stated that this meal was 90% locally sourced, all while using ingredients that were in season at the time.


Slow Food UW’s website states that they envision “people from diverse backgrounds united around one table joyfully sharing food, culture, and knowledge”. I can attest to this mission, as their physical set up is conducive for conversation and community. When one walks into the basement of The Crossing, you immediately see the family-style set up they employ. Large rectangular tables fill the space, with mis-matched silverware and mugs placed at each seat. The room is filled with conversation between friends and strangers alike, and the welcoming atmosphere makes you feel included, even if you come to dine alone.

There is great value in the connections that food can foster, and I find that people can always relate and bond over the process of producing, preparing and eating food together. Slow Food UW is a mosaic, where the tiles represent people with varying social identities, diverse food-ways, traditions, and cultures. These differences and histories that stem with people and end with food should be celebrated and respected, and hey, for only $5, you might as well check it out.

So go on, there’s a seat at the table already set for you.




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