Valeria Merlo


- Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you do before coming to UNISG?§
Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. At 16 I won a scholarship to study at the United World College in Costa Rica, an international boarding school. During that time I deepened my interest in food and sustainability through my academics (biology and environmental systems were my focus) and extracurricular life (head of the Gardening Group and Chair of the environmental committee of the Model United Nations). What really got me to change gears was when a group of friends and I started to promote a "Farm to Fork" pilot program at school, fixated on the idea that great education must take into account responsible food sourcing (specially because boarding school meant having 5 meals a day provided by the cafeteria!)... after that UNISG became the only school I could possibly consider attending!

- What did you study in Pollenzo? Tell us something about your time here
I attended the three year undergraduate degree.
Shortly after arriving in Italy I realize how little I knew about food, perhaps not so much at a theorethical level, it was rather the taste of different foods that was completely new to me. I vividly remember tasting my first sourdough bread, sauerkraut, aged cheese... all these delicious new-to-me tastes, it was wonderful! Discovering new foods and flavors only snowballed during the study trips, dinners, experiments... all the amazing experiences UNISG gives us :)

- What is your favorite thing about this university?
It has to be the people you meet. I always felt the luckiest for being in a place with such a high concentration of talented, food- obsessed, passionate beings: always ready to organise a dinner party, plan crazy farm projects and ferment food together.

- Tell us something about what you’re doing now..
I’m working as an Assistant Food Buyer at Eataly’s headquarters in Turin. My work is split between overlooking the sales and projects of the fruit & vegetable department and working together with the chefs to find the best products to use at each restaurant.
Working for a big corporation has allowed me to get a lot of perspective on how the food industry works and the impact we can have when tackling environmental issues such as food waste (which is the biggest issue in a supermarket).

- Sounds amazing. Is there any advice you want to give to the students?
The only advice I could give you is to take advantage of the time you have left in Bra! Bake, cook, experiment, garden, invite friends over for dinner... you got the drill ;)