Wednesday, June 11, 2008

being a student in new york city

yesterday was day two of our week-long seminar on food. the day was excellent.

in the morning we discussed michael pollan's the omnivore's dilemma and used it as a launch pad to discussions about organic farming, industrial organic farming, going green, and the privilege (or elitism) that accompanies the current US green movement. on the first day, too few people dominated the discussion; today, many more got involved and it was provocative, interesting, and engaged.

for lunch, all of the classes come together in the kimmel center to have a big collective meal. together, we're probably around three hundred people. the food is decent and plentiful - salad (with cherry tomatoes; the other tomatoes cause panic these days), roast beef and tuna sandwiches, beans and rice, pickles. lots of cookies, lots of brownies, and coffee and tea. and enough bottled water and soda to nullify any green-leaning act any of us had done that day.

during lunch, i decided it would be a good idea to take photographs of all the people at all the tables. after using my table as the test-table, i got up and approached each table, one at a time, and asked, "may i take a picture of all of you? it may or may not go on my blog." no one said no.

(if you click the picture above, or simply click here, you will be magically transported to a flickr set that contains many more photographs of tabled lunchers.)

after lunch, we had an excellent guest lecture from jennifer black - doctor black - who just earned her PhD from NYU's department of nutrition, food studies, and public health. jennifer presented findings from her dissertation, a fascinating, map-inspired analysis about the existence, or lack thereof, of things like supermarkets, restaurants, fast food joints, fitness centers, walking trails, and tennis courts in various new york city neighborhoods and the ways their existence, or lack thereof, serve as predictors for obesity among the various neighborhoods.

after jennifer's talk, some of us got a brief tour through NYU's campus kitchen. USF needs something like this, a place where students, staff, and faculty can come together to cook delicious meals.

jennifer's talk was followed by a film screening of the documentary the real dirt on farmer john. the film traces john's life and his relationship to the family farm. brilliantly and sadly, john's life becomes of living timeline of recent american farming: farming with his parents and extended family in the 1950s, opening up the farm as a countercultural commune/art space during the late 1960s, losing the farm during reagan's 1980s, going organic around the turn of the century, and, currently, transitioning into a CSA farm. the plight of american farms and farmers makes the documentary gripping; john peterson - farmer, artist, seeker - makes the film entertaining. this film, coupled with a conversation with daryl white about how he uses film in the class, gave me a lot of ideas for future classes.

but i ain't gonna lie - despite an excellent day of being a student in new york city, the best part of the day was the evening, when i walked from the west village to the east village and popped in to see these two blobs of unbelievable cuteness, my nephews a. and p.

today = foodie field trips across the lower east side!