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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, December 3, 2023

Foodie House seeks to foster an interdisciplinary community centered around a love of food


Calling all Tufts foodies! A new food-themed special interest house called the Foodie House is coming to Tufts.

The Foodie House will be a housing option for anyone who loves food. The house was founded by Tufts undergraduate students Holden and Jackson, who requested that part of their names be omitted out of concern for their privacy. It will be supervised by Distinguished Senior Lecturer in the anthropology department Cathy Stanton and Associate Professor of Anthropology Alex Blanchette. Holden and Jackson are passionate about food and envision a shared living space where members can bond over their shared interest in all things food related.

Unlike many existing special interest houses that are culturally based, the Foodie House is based around a passion. There will be no set requirements to live in this house other than an enthusiasm for food.

“Our only requirement really for people who are interested in joining our house is that they're interested in food in some way or another,” Jackson said.

The term “foodie” in the name Foodie House may evoke the image of someone who possesses a refined taste for modern food trends, though the house is mostly centered on a general love of food.

“'Foodie’ is such an interesting term because it carries this sort of connotation of gastronomy ... [or] a certain kind of exploration of food in a way that can be sometimes seen as even appropriative or kind of problematic," Stanton said. "I'm glad they called it that because it's a provocative thing to call it."

Modern-day foodies are sometimes associated with posting food content to social media. The Foodie House does, in fact, already have an Instagram account, @tuftsfoodiehouse.

Jackson views Foodie House as a vehicle for community building and deeper learning. Not only will the members be cooking and eating meals together, but they will be learning and sharing information relating to food.

“We are trying to build a community of people in order to just kind of explore food and all the different facets within food,” Jackson said, “We may look at a lens from sustainability, a lens of food justice, basically just take food as its whole and explore the culture, the science, history and then food itself and just kind of create a community in which we can do things like family dinners, and just have a tight-knit group.”

There are existing organizations at Tufts that foster food communities, such as The Palmier, an undergraduate culinary magazine. The Foodie House, however, will bring that sense of community around cooking into the comfort of a home.

“For college students, sitting down to a plate of food and sharing a meal with friends and chosen family is an opportunity to relax after a long day, a chance to converse with a mutual understanding of the concept of ‘sobremesa,’ and a chance to collectively take a step back from everything happening at Tufts and in the world,” Holden wrote in an email to the Daily.

Foodie House will allow students to delve more deeply into their interest in food from various perspectives.

Stanton is eager to bring conversations surrounding food to a residential community, as one of the house’s advisors next year.

“There's a lot of people that are really seeing food as a useful way to think through all kinds of big issues and be engaged in the world and all of that, but it tends to be somewhat scattered,” Stanton said. “I have tried to just be in places where we can pull things together and create little sort of nodes where people can work on things and talk to each other, and so I think the Foodie House will be one of those [places] in a really wonderful way, because it will be residential and there [will be] a kitchen there.”

There is still a lot of work and planning ahead to actualize their vision of the Foodie House, but the founders have already had to jump through certain barriers to get the house approved.

“[There was] an additional challenge to try to coordinate [while] sending out emails to professors asking if they'd be our advisors, as well as just trying to recruit enough people to join to get enough interest,” Jackson said. “But once we got over that hurdle, and the hurdles looking for advisors, I'd say we're super excited about it and so excited [it] is successful.”

Though Jackson and Holden have already accomplished the task of getting the house approved by Tufts, many of the specific details, such as the house’s location and its events, are not yet definite. They do know for sure that they hope to be able to open their doors to the greater Tufts community.

“Ideally, we would be able to host dinners where we're looking for a certain number of people and it could be a place in which we can cook something and have discussions and just maybe presentations on different cultures and the history of food," Jackson said. "Maybe one of our people will come and ... make a dish, and they'll present on the history of it."

Additionally, every member of the house will be required to obtain a food handlers certification.

“It's not something that Tufts is having us require, but we think it's important that members are educated on food safety and know what goes into it,” Jackson said.

Holden and Jackson have high hopes to collaborate with other themed houses.

“Considering that every culture and identity often has a food component, we want Foodie House to be an opportunity for education and exploration.” Holden wrote.

The Foodie House already has so much planned for their debut on campus next school year. Ultimately, the founders are simply aiming to create a comfortable and safe space where lovers of food can express their passion in numerous ways.

“We’re just trying to create an interdisciplinary community, in which we can explore food and many issues surrounding food," Jackson said. "That’s one of the basic requirements of survival."