Here at the University of Oregon, Slow Food UO has the privilege of having Geraldine Moreno as the chapter’s faculty advisor. Moreno has worked at the University of Oregon since 1974 conducting extensive research projects as well as feeding the minds of several students from all majors. Her focus is on human biology, nutritional and medical anthropology. I recently had the unique opportunity to visit with Professor Moreno about her studies, research, hobbies, and family background. I even got the inside scoop on what food will be on her table this holiday season!
Before studying human nutrition at Cornell, Moreno conducted research on the food consumption of monkeys. She continued her focus on food related studies; however, leaving the monkeys behind, she began her focus on humans. Moreno has done research in Indonesia, Thailand, Ecuador, and the United States ranging from topics of patterns within food insecurity, consumption, and diet.
Moreno is also currently working on a Child Obesity Prevention Project for the Oregon Research Institute, along with conducting a Tray Photo Project. The Tray Photo Project is a study on the decisions children are making about food. After taking several pictures of trays within seven school cafeterias, Moreno analyzes their decisions based on grade level and gender. She expresses the obstacles of the changes within school lunches their policies. Many of the schools have changed from an serve-based system to a offer system, increasing the student’s ability to choose the food they want for lunch. One observation that Moreno has made is that the older children get, the more inclined they are to create a salad from the salad bar – the younger children choose more finger foods and less lettuce from the salad bar, which is available by choice. Still many children do not choose very much from the salad bar at all.
Apart from her impressive research, Moreno enjoys taking clay and textile classes here in Eugene. She finds joy in cooking and loves to collect recipes and cook books. Moreno also expresses the delight she has for Marteenie, her fifteen year old Terrier mix.
Moreno comes from a large family. Her love for food stems from the nostalgic memories of her family gathering together and sharing food. “We were always together and we always ate,” Moreno says with a smile full of delight. This act of enjoying food established the interest of a food community for Moreno at a young age. She now is married to her husband Edward and has two daughters, Tovah and Simca. They all share a love for cooking and baking; a hobby which her daughters specifically enjoy in the form of entertaining and experimenting.
Like all Slow Food participants, Moreno is already gearing up for the holiday season. She plans on making a special brussel sprout dish for Thanksgiving with her family. When the sprouts are sautéed, the recipe consists of oil, onion and garlic. When in season, she adds tomato to the mix. If the sprouts are steamed, the ingredients consist of butter, lemon juice and caraway seeds. Moreno also looks forward to the traditional Hanukkah meal of Latkes: potato pancakes consisting of potatoes, flour, and egg. (Yum!) Here is a recipe for your own Hanukkah Latkes from Kosher Food: http://kosherfood.about.com/od/hanukkah/r/han_latkas_pot.htm
This Winter, Professor Moreno will be teaching a 4-credit course entitled Gender Issues in Nutritional Anthropology (ANTH 465/565) at the University of Oregon. The course will explore connections between agriculture, gender, medicine, diet, nutrition and economy, just to name a few. It will also focus on how humans think about, use, and consume food. For more information on the courses Moreno teaches, visit http://pages.uoregon.edu/gmorenob/courses.html