Thursday, May 12, 2011

Food Movement is Now an Official College Major - article by Kristin Fuhrmann-Simmons

EcoGastronomy: Food movement is now an official college major

I am ready to go back to school. I want to study "EcoGastronomy" at the University of New Hampshire.
What is that? In short form, from UNH's website, it is "the art and appreciation of preparing and eating good food."
The course title indicates that the "art and appreciation" of food is tightly linked to our environment, and the mixture of social, economic, political, and ethical issues associated with food production and eating. You instinctively understand that is the study of food and all the things that go with it, from how we eat and enjoy it, to how it is made. It takes that prayer that many of us state before our meals, "Thank you for this food and the hands that prepared it," and digs deeper into the hows, whys, and implications of our reverence.
Started three years ago as an outcropping of the business, life science and agriculture programs, ecogastronomy is a way for students of any discipline to study sustainable food systems.
The program's director, UNH alum Dan Winans, returned to the Seacoast to develop the program after studying at the University of Gastronomic Science in Italy.
"We have a unique opportunity to create our own definition if what ecogastronomy is all about," he said.
The major is unique in the country and program is tightly linked to the Slow Food movement, founded by Carlo Petrini. It has based its mission on the tenets of enjoying food, understanding its harvest and the connection it has to nature. Students choose a course of study in adjunct to their major, and partake in a semester-long program in Italy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.
I had the opportunity to meet with the graduating seniors in the program, and hear their project presentations.
Sarah Breen developed a project around the logistics of planning a New England food tour.
"Why not have that kind of magic experience here? We have so much to offer!" Breen said, recalling the magic she experienced as a tourist in Italy, soaking in the land and food.
Breen detailed how promoting indigenous products such as maple syrup, seafood, beer and wine would support the economy and culture of New England in a manner that similar programs do in Europe.
Emily Goldman was inspired by the communal eating experiences she had while in Europe.
"The time and energy invested in social dining was rewarding," she said. She and her fellow students experienced first-hand how a meal, prepared in a manner that would allow multiple courses as well as community interaction, became a touchstone through which they could connect, have meaningful discourse and truly enjoy the ingredients they were tasting.
Ryan Miller focused on oenology and the biodynamic production of wine. While in the Piedmont region of Italy, Miller toured San Fereolo Vineyards and revelled in the flavor of the naturally produced fruits and the wines that were created as a result.
The program has events throughout the academic year that showcase ecogastronomy in all it manifestations, from dinners, to wine expos and farmers market booths. (Correction:  Students go to these types of events as part of an EcoGastronomy portfolio designed to help students experience many different aspects of the food system.)
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons is the owner and baker at kristin f. simmons, custom cakes. She may be reached at  THANK YOU Kristan for a wonderful article!


  1. who is Ryan Miller? I need to get linked up with him for conversation before Summer lets out. We have similar interests so it seems. Mmmm, biodynamic viticulture!

  2. my names Evan Girard, I'm a student at UNH. Nobody special, just another person at his college who can talk biodynamics. :)