Category: Tom Riordan

Spartanburg: Food Security Issues – Covid-19 2020

These are reliable sources that provide important ways to stay informed on the spread of the pandemic, ways to help the community, and ways to receive help. The news and county pages are updated regularly with important and relevant information.


Tampopo and Professor Bates Response Podcast



Professor Vooris Lecture

I found it incredibly interesting breaking down the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding food culture. Professor Vooris’ pointing out the association between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ foods through different representations like stock photos or advertisements was especially striking to me. It seems obvious once she described it that societal norms try to prescribe specific foods to specific people and genders. Her description of the difference between kitchen cooking and professional cooking as gender labeled and hierarchical was eye-opening to me as well. Cooking should always be considered a skill, not just when in a professional kitchen, and not associated with one gender.

Interview with Jenn Halpin

Download (PPTX, 4.51MB)

I was very interested in the community that food producers shared here in the Carlisle area, and Jenn Halpin shed light on that community by sharing her amazing experiences of establishing the Dickinson Farm. She explained the construction of a business plan which led to the creation of the farm on land the college owned and rented to other farmers. She built the farm program from the ground up by reshaping the land and finding the resources to provide the infrastructure for the farm to run. Initially the farm was focused on production in order to make the program viable to continue into the future. However, over time and through serious dedication it has continued to evolve into both a crucial educational and food system for the college. She expressed to me some difficulties through her tenure as director of the farm both due to a view of the subsidies the farm receives from the college by other farmers, but also prejudices she faces in a traditionally male dominated industry. However, she has proven her success as a leader and farm manager over the last decade and continues to make the farm an important part of the Dickinson and Carlisle communities as director.

Food Production Interview

I will be interviewing Jenn Halpin next week to discuss her experience in managing the Dickinson Farm. I am interested in her perspective because of the unique characteristics of the school’s farm, including the funding it receives, its commitment to organic farming, and other ethical practices. Some sample questions I have are:

  • How have your priorities changed throughout your tenure as director of the farm?
  • How difficult is it maintaining a commitment to organic agriculture on a large scale?
    • Is this made easier by having livestock as well as growing produce?
  • Could you foresee a farm model like this possible without funding from Dickinson?
    • If not, what would need to be altered to make it possible?
  • What identity does the college farm posses compared to surrounding farms in the county?


As I have not completed this interview yet, I do not have any photos or videos to post from it. However, I do have photos from my own farm back home to share:

You Are What You Eat

My Days in Food

I found Monday through Wednesday to be pretty typical days in my eating pattern, and its obvious there are some food items I consume everyday that build upon my diet.

Monday, Jan. 27th

  • Breakfast
    • Protein Shake
    • Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, baked oatmeal, yogurt, blueberries, bananas
    • Coffee, orange juice
  • Lunch
    • Sushi roll (shrimp, avocado, asparagus)
    • banana
  • Post-Practice
    • Protein Shake
  • Dinner
    • Chipotle bowl (rice, black beans, chicken, salsas, cheese)
  • Snacks
    • Pretzels, Haribo gummy bears

Tuesday, Jan, 28th

  • Breakfast
    • Fried eggs, toast, cheese, bananas, clementines
    • coffee
  • Snacks
    • Cliff Bar
    • Post-practice protein shake
  • Dinner
    • Boneless wing toss, quinoa cauliflower bites
    • banana bread w/frosting

Wednesday, Jan. 29th

  • Breakfast
    • egg sandwich, bananas
    • coffee
  • Lunch
    • Sushi roll
  • Snack
    • Cliff bar
    • Post-practice protein shake
    • Haribo gummy bears
  • Dinner
    • Chicken w/parmesan rice, brocolli


The Top 3

I am most definitely a creature of habit. I look forward to my morning coffee everyday, and I always turn to bananas in the morning and mid-day. I also have one or two protein shakes a day to support my exercise for track.


  1. Coffee

Luckily, Dickinson is very transparent about who and where our food comes from. There is a link on the college website that actually shows the school’s vendors and their websites. Dickinson coffee comes from Sun Coffee Roasters, who boast they, “source coffee beans from certified Rainforest and Fair Trade cooperatives worldwide.” By describing it as sourced ‘worldwide’, it is difficult to pinpoint where each cup comes from. Having said this, most coffee is grown in regions close to the equator, throughout South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. This means that each cup of coffee most likely has grounds in it that traveled thousands of miles to be brewed in the Dickinson Caf. Sun Coffee Roasters does highlight the cooperatives they are a part of which are, “certified Rainforest, Shade Grown, or Bird Friendly plantations.” This shows some of the issues facing general coffee production around the world. Many practices include clear cutting natural rainforest vegetation to make way for coffee plantations, or discouraging natural bird habitats to protect a coffee bean crop. Knowing that the coffee provider for Dickinson, who produce the coffee I drink everyday, are actively working to support sustainable coffee growth, makes it easier to drink. I also only drink one cup a day, with the knowledge that each cup has traveled such a great distance to exist in Carlisle, PA.

2. Bananas

It is a less direct path to determine who and where each banana comes from here at Dickinson. It seems every day the bananas I choose have different stickers on them identifying which Central or South American  country they came from. Within the last week, I had bananas with a Colombia sticker and Costa Rica sticker on them. However, on these stickers is typically a Rainforest Alliance label. This label aligns many ideals with the cooperatives’ values identified the the coffee producers. It states that bananas are grown with minimal impact on the rainforest environment by using less herbicides and pesticides and preventing soil degradation and erosion. However, there are less transparencies with who grows the bananas and how workers are treated. Often the bananas in the caf have different labels on them from different companies. There is no way to determine how each of the producers treats their laborers at each subsidiary farm throughout Latin America. This insight has made me think about this fruit I consume so often. I eat bananas because I prefer them, but they have a much larger carbon footprint than, say, an apple. The bananas in the caf must travel thousands of miles, from farm, to ship, to port, by truck, to Dickinson. Most of our apples in the caf are grown just one county over, within a fifty mile radius.

3. Protein Blend (Whey Protein)

Whey is a byproduct of milk production, which I knew, and after checking to see if Land o Lakes, the parent company of many dairy farms in Cumberland County, produced whey protein, I was getting excited. My first two most consumed items come from places very far away from the United States, but I thought this least suspecting food item might actually be semi-locally sourced. Unfortunately, the brand does not publish exactly where they source their whey protein, but there is at least a chance some of it could come from Cumberland County. I have been able to visit local dairy farms throughout my time at Dickinson, where I learned about milk production, and that much of the dairy produced here isn’t transported in milk form, but actually broken down and separated into powder, like whey powder. There are a lot of variables in dairy production, such as whether a farm is sustainable, how dairy cows are treated, and what kind of labor they use. I can only hope that this main ingredient in my protein shake comes from farms that commit to good practice, but there aren’t clear distinctions like ‘Rainforest Alliance’ or ‘certified shade grown’ as there are with coffee and bananas. Looking at an ingredient list is a little daunting, especially when it shows that things have been changed or processed, like whey powder. I am sure that the powder had to travel hundreds of miles to be combined with other ingredients, just to travel more hundreds of miles to Carlisle, where I bought it.



Tom Riordan

Hello all, I am Tom Riordan ’20, an Environmental Studies and Political Science double major. I am looking forward to capping off my Food Studies Certificate this semester, and the class overall. My main food interests rest in urban food systems and how they will most likely be changing as the world’s population continues to increase and shift to urban centers. I have spent part of my last two summers working with a sustainable development company helping to establish urban garden programs and understand food insecurity in our nation’s capital. I also grew up on a small farm in South Carolina, which shaped my experiences surrounding food production and developed an appreciation for access to fresh produce.

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