Local and Organic Food

Slow Food UW

Slow Food UW: A Case Study of Social Innovation

Lydia Zepeda and Alice Reznickova

Slow Food UW (SFUW) is a student organization founded in 2007 in response to a call by Slow Food International to make good, clean fair food more accessible. It began with a handful of students who met to cook and share meals. SFUW represents a social innovation, an institutionalized social practice created in response to unmet needs; in this case, a lack of cooking skills and the high cost of sustainably produced, healthy and tasty food. SFUW serves as a model for how to deliver locally sourced, sustainable, gourmet meals for $5-7. Today it runs a weekly café that serves 200+ people, a weekly campus family dinner night that serves 120, a community family dinner night, a South Madison project, a farm to university project, and a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture box scheme). The purpose of this project is to document how SFUW happened and what it has accomplished.

This project will capture the stories of those involved to understand the motivation and process of developing this social innovation; identify the importance of specific individuals and their visions in bringing this about; document specific outcomes; and identify key support in realizing these outcomes. The objective is to identify factors that contribute to the success of the organization, to specific projects, and to social innovation, thereby providing insights into the potential for replication of this social innovation in other contexts.


Zepeda, L. and A. Reznickova. 2016. “Innovative millennial snails: The story of Slow Food University of Wisconsin” Agriculture and Human Values. Accepted April 14, 2016 and published online June 8, 2016. View Online

Reznickova, A. and Zepeda, L. "Can Self-Determination Theory explain the self-perpetuation of social innovations? A case study of Slow Food at the University of Wisconsin - Madison" Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. Published online