After our visit to the College Farm today I was left feeling both encouraged and discouraged. I was encouraged to know that our school is doing what it can (more so each year) to contribute to sustainable and organic farming. I think the farm provides a great model for other schools to follow which prompted me to look up more information about our farm as well as what other schools might be doing similarly to Dickinson. Some of you may be familiar with the following article that was recently published on New York Times: “Selling the Campus Farm”, but I encourage you to read the article if you haven’t already done so as Dickinson gets special mention. It not only speaks to how far and how much progress the Dickinson College Farm has made but it also shows what other schools are farming. Schools are using the profits from their farms for a variety of things, for example at California State Polytechnic University the farm “profits are being funneled back into a cash-strained agricultural school [while] other campuses, the money goes to repair tractors or update solar-powered greenhouses.” The article helps one to feel optimistic about the future and growth of sustainable farming looking at the variety of schools taking similar initiatives. However, on the ride back to campus upon further reflection I felt a little disheartened thinking about the question of whether or not it really is possible or to what extent a capitalistic nation can sustainably or organically mass produce? The phrase in itself (at least to me, I don’t know if everyone will agree with me), sounds like an oxymoron…”organically mass produce”?
When Jenn mentioned that all of this should start when we’re young I think that was a really important distinction and point. Professor Bell and Olivia’s anecdotes about food awareness and children really play to this point. I think it’s interesting to compare food awareness in the United States to that of other countries. For example, I lived and babysat with a family in Geneva, Switzerland whose children were raised there and as a result have a very different perspective and awareness of food and nutrition. The family moved back to the United States three years ago and I distinctly remember when they moved back the change I saw when I went to babysit for them. The two kids, who were three and five at the time, were disgusted by much of the food their mom brought home from the grocery store. Now this may sound extreme but I want to make the point that their mom was not buying junk food or processed food for them that they were unfamiliar with, she was buying cheese, yogurt, fruit etc. I think this exemplifies that the children were put off by the lack of freshness in the food because they had been used to food that came from farmers markets on a weekly basis all year round. Fresh, unprocessed food. Obviously we can’t have farmers markets all year round given different weather conditions and limitations but I think it shows how much influence we can have on children by raising awareness and not “voting” (as Jenn phrased it) for the processed snacks and foods with our money at the grocery store.