Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer 2014 in Italy

Travel to Italy and enjoy student blog posts and pictures !

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grow Your Own Groceries

Article about the EcoGastronomy Porgram courtesy of Sam Burch, UNH Journalism Major 
Each and every person relies on food daily, and yet few of us know where our food comes from, what it’s made of, and the effects it has on our body. Well enough is enough, The University of New Hampshire now has a program called EcoGastronomy that educates students on the sustainable and healthy way to grow, cook and eat food. In only its fourth year, the program is a collaboration of courses, integrating elements of sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition all into one.
The major was first established after a visit from Carlo Petrini, the founder of an international movement that promotes local, healthy food called Slow Food. UNH became the first university in the United States to sign the organization’s Slow Food Agreements of Intentions and Collaborations , a set of principles aimed at connecting “institutions that defend biodiversity and sustainable food production” (Mofga). Subsequently in 2008, the Board of Trustees approved EcoGastronomy as a dual-major, making UNH the first university in the country to provide such a program.
Offered only as a dual-major, students must accompany another major with EcoGastronomy; however, this was no issue for Amanda Parks, a senior at UNH majoring in both Nutrition and EcoGastronomy, “At first I wanted it to be its own major, but there are definitely benefits of having it as a dual-major. The curriculum can easily be intertwined with different majors, giving people from the history department, to art, and beyond a chance to connect with principles of sustainable food systems and food communities.” Electing to study EcoGastronomy as a dual-major provides students with a unique perspective that they may not get focusing on one field only.  As Parks made it clear, “Not only am I learning about the science and health of food, but I can tie all the sustainable production, food procurement, and tasteful enjoyment aspects of EcoG into my primary major.”
The diversity of the program results in an assorted course load and possible professions after graduation. Some students enroll in the program to learn how to cook, others want to make changes in food policies, and many want to work with farms or help community food production.
Students see the value in this, Parks who plans on promoting local seafood campaigns after graduation said, “While graduates of the program may not pursue a related field, studying EcoG gives everyone the opportunity to learn and be a knowledgeable consumer with potential to change the current food system.”  A food system that is struggling to accommodate for such a large population, as publically scrutinized corporations like Monsanto Company increase production of genetically modified organisms.
Colleen Schriefer, the program assistant of EcoGastronomy at UNH, echoed this sentiment saying, “Most people should care about where their food comes from, and it can be startling when you find out. We should know what food does to our bodies and whether it helps or it hurts. We should know how to stay healthy.” 

Thus, to fight the rise in unhealthy eating options, the EcoGastronomy program connects classes from 13 different majors and proposes students take such courses  as the Culture of Vegetable Crops, Crop Production Technologies, Community Nutrition, and Systems Thinking for Sustainable Living. So from soil health to cooking and culture, the program gives a list of selections designed to assess the current means of farming and food productions.
In these courses, students learn through field and lab work, from farm to kitchen use, in addition to a mandatory semester abroad at either the UNH-in-Italy EcoGastronomy program in Ascoli Piceno, Italy or the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France. Both options give students the opportunity to learn about food aesthetics and see the farm to fork method of cuisine first hand.
The semester in Italy focuses on the creation and appreciation of food, food technology processes, the language and cross-cultural courses. Students stay in the small city of Ascoli Piceno, and get to take part in Terra Madre, a conference of food communities which program director Dan Winans described as “the food Olympics”.
For the semester in France, students stay in Dijon, in “the heart of the best wine region on the planet” according to Winans. This option stresses the art of French living with wine product and tasting classes in addition to food and wine tourism.
Both abroad programs study permaculture and the development of self-sustaining agricultural systems. Moreover, there is an emphasis on the sociology of food and wine and how production and consumption of each leads to connections among communities. These trips offer students an opportunity to increase their understanding of food systems and as Schriefer put it, “gain confidence in their field and expand their perspective”.
Christina Wolf, a graduate of UNH who studied EcoGastronomy in Durham and abroad in Ascoli Piceno, Italy had only positive things to say about the experience, “The trip was unforgettable. We studied food science and aesthetics as well as cooking authentic meals that were a staple of the Ascoli Piceno culture. The time spent was essential to our EcoGastronomy studies,  it was very hands-on and helped familiarize us with the differences between the United States and Italian food systems.”
The potential for Ecogastronomy is immense, formed on the foundation of growing and raising healthy eating options and carving a deep connection between food and community. Such a system could build a productive and well-nourished network of people, a key component in the fight against fast food. The motive behind the UNH program is simple and deserves consideration: grow and prepare food with care, using nutritious, quality ingredients while promoting a more sustainable world.

    Daniel Winans: Director of UNH Ecogastronomy Program
- 603-862-3327
Colleen Schriefer: Program Assistant for Ecogastronomy Program
- 603-862-2316
Amanda Parks: Senior studying Ecogastronomy and works in food service
  Christina Wolf: Alumni of UNH who studied Ecogastronomy and abroad in Italy

Monday, February 17, 2014

EcoG in France: Visiting Aloxe Corton and Our Professor's Wine Estate

Courtesy of Taylor Bennet (  EcoG and HMGT major at UNH
Today I had the privilege to go on a walking tour of the many villages of aloxe corton, home of some of the most elite and expense wines of France. I got to see the plots that my professor and his family have owned for many many years, the machinery they use to produce their wine, and a tour of their wine cellar. 

We then enjoyed lunch at his house with three bottles of his wine. The first was a 2011 Chardonnay regional Appalachian. The second, a 2006 Pinot noir grand cru, and the third, a 1996 Pinot noir regional Appalachian. They were all amazing and I was able to buy a few bottles to bring home. 

 also am so lucky to be able to take home the top of a wine barrel from his estate that his brother is going to detach for me. Words and pictures cannot describe the experience I had today. From the knowledge and the pride my professor has, to the views and the tasting, it was all incredible. I am so lucky to have such a once in a lifetime opportunity and today is a day I will definitely never forget.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

UNH Slow Food Students Disco and Make Soup to END HUNGER

This post is courtesy of Slow Food UNH!!!
"Recently, we hosted a Disco Soup!   Disco Soupe is a high energy, 100% youth-driven event meant to shift how communities think about food waste. Yes! Music, disco balls and 70’s garb are included! :-)

For our Disco Soup, we saved over 1,000 pounds of food from farms in our community - mostly culls, seconds and excess produce leftover from the tail-end of the season. Together withSlow Food UVM and Slow Food NU (Boston), we cooked up 120 GALLONS of 'disco soup' to distribute to local food pantries!
We gathered to chop vegetables while dancing to the FUNKY beat of Bling Cherry

Funny thing, less than hour into the event and there was a campus-wide power outage!!  Left with no lights and no band, close to 60 people continued chopping on! Righteous!!  However, a few people actually cut themselves in the dark!

By the second hour, the power was back on, the disco ball was spinning, and the band was GROOVING!  We shared a homemade apple-squash soup for lunch, and continued dancing and chopping! :-)UNH Dining provided equipment for us to cook up two large cauldrons of 'disco soup', totaling 60 gallons Creamy Curry Sweet Potato soup and 60 gallons of Hearty Kale soup.  The Hearty Kale soup actually contained ingredients gleaned from 9 different farms! Can you dig it? 

So many incredible farms contributed to our Disco Soup event including: Baer's Best, Spiller Farm, Butternut Farm, Pickpocket Farm, Farm to You NH, Half Pint Farm, Woodman Farm, Kingman Farm, Tuckaway Farm, Brandmoore Farm and MORE!   We saved part of our budget to afford complimentary soil tests for farmers who participated :-)

This event was a great first example of what we can achieve together on a Regional scale, to change our food system, as part of Slow Food Youth Network USA

Check out this wonderful article by Rachel Greenberger: 

Fosters Daily Democrat newspaper:

Event page:"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Elderberry

From warding off evil to tapping maple trees, the elderberry bush lives up to its name dating back  to prehistoric man1.  But don’t eat the berries raw; they are poisonous.  This native shrub fascinates for its many elixir, practical, and folk uses.   Black Elderberries have almost 5 times as many anthocyanins as Blueberries and twice the overall antioxidant capability of cranberries.  And Black Elderberry has been found to be effective against the H5N1 strain of Avian Flu; and when given to patients, scientists have found the Black Elderberry, has the ability to ward off flu infections quickly.1  

Take a closer look at the at the black-berried elder, Sambucus nigra:

The flowers of Sambucus nigra are used to produce elderflower cordial.
The French, Austrians and Central Europeans produce elderflower syrup, commonly made from an extract of elderflower blossoms, which is added to Palatschinken filling instead of blueberries.
People throughout much of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe use a similar method to make a syrup which is diluted with water and used as a drink. Based on this syrup, Fanta markets a soft drink variety called "Shokata" which is sold in 15 countries worldwide.
In the United States, this French elderflower syrup is used to make elderflower marshmallows.
St. Germain, a French liqueur, is made from elderflowers. Hallands Fläder, a Swedish akvavit, is flavoured with elderflowers.
The Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavoured with oil obtained from the elderflower.
In Germany, yoghurt desserts are made with both the berries and the flowers.
Wines, cordials and marmalade have been produced from the berries or flowers.
Fruit pies and relishes are produced with berries. In Italy (especially in Piedmont) and Germany, the umbels of the elderberry are batter coated, fried and then served as a dessert or a sweet lunch with a sugar and cinnamon topping.
In Germany, the dish is known as "Hollerküchel".
Hollowed elderberry twigs have traditionally been used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup.
In Romania, a slightly fermented soft beverage (called "socata" or "suc de soc") is traditionally produced by letting the flowers macerate, with water, yeast and lemon for 2-3 days. A similar drink is produced in the UK, but in this case the last stage of fermentation is allowed to proceed in a closed pressure proof bottle to give a fizzy drink called elderflower champagne.

Ornamental varieties of Sambucus are grown in gardens for their showy flowers, fruits and lacy foliage.
Native species of elderberry are often planted by people wishing to support native butterfly and bird species.
Elderberries, raw
Sambucus spp.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
305 kJ (73 kcal)
18.4 g
7 g
0.5 g
0.66 g
79.80 g
Vitamin A equiv.
30 μg (4%)
0.07 mg (6%)
0.06 mg (5%)
0.5 mg (3%)
0.14 mg (3%)
0.23 mg (18%)
Folate (vit. B9)
6 μg (2%)
36 mg (43%)
38 mg (4%)
1.6 mg (12%)
5 mg (1%)
39 mg (6%)
280 mg (6%)
0.11 mg (1%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.
Some preliminary studies demonstrate that elderberry may have a measurable effect in treating the flu, alleviating allergies, and boosting overall respiratory health.
Elder is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, dissolved in wine, for rheumatism and traumatic injury. 

Branches from the elder are also used to make the fujara, koncovka and other uniquely Slovakian flutes. Similar musical instruments (furulya) are made of elderberry (fekete bodza, Sambucus nigra) in Hungary and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The ripe, cooked berries (pulp and skin) of most species of Sambucus are edible. However, most uncooked berries and other parts of plants from this genus are poisonous. Sambucus nigra is the only variety considered to be non-toxic, but it is still recommended that its berries be cooked slightly for culinary purposes.   The leaves, twigs, branches, seeds and roots of Sambucus plants can contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside (a glycoside which gives rise to cyanide as the metabolism processes it). Ingesting a sufficient quantity of cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic build up of cyanide in the body.
In 1984, a group of twenty-five people were sickened, apparently by elderberry juice pressed from fresh, uncooked Sambucus mexicana berries. All recovered quickly, however, including one individual who was hospitalized after drinking five glasses. Such reported incidents are rare.

The berries are a very valuable food resource for many birds. In Northern California elderberries are a favorite food for migrating Band-tailed Pigeons. Flocks can strip an entire bush in less than an hour. Elders are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Brown-tail, Buff Ermine, Dot Moth, Emperor Moth, the Engrailed, Swallow-tailed Moth and the V-pug. The crushed foliage and immature fruit have a strong fetid smell.
Dead elder wood is the preferred habitat of the mushroom Auricularia auricula-judae, also known as "Judas' ear fungus".
The pith of elder has been used by watchmakers for cleaning tools before intricate work.

Folklore is extensive and can be wildly conflicting depending on region.
  • In some areas, the "elder tree" was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, while other beliefs say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit.
  • In some regions, superstition, religious belief, or tradition prohibits the cutting of certain trees for bonfires, most notably in witchcraft customs the elderberry tree; "Elder be ye Lady's tree, burn it not or cursed ye'll be" – A rhyme from the Wiccan rede.
  • If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.”2

Sources: 1 , 2