Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Getting My Masters in Food Studies at NYU

Snug Harbor Farm
Those of you who know me in real life (or who follow *very* closely on Twitter) know that the book isn't all that's been life-changing in my world. Literally 24 hours after we heard that Running Press believed in New York a la Cart, I received word that I had been accepted into NYU's Food Studies program (I was literally in a car in traffic in the rain trying to get to this event. There might have been a little screaming and tears.) It had taken me three years to get up the nerve to apply, and even then I sort of half-assed my application due to certain life circumstances. And here is what I've learned so far....

Snug Harbor Farm
Basically that everything has changed and gotten all future-like since I graduated! Seriously, I fortunate to enter in at the right time for me--one of the required classes I was interested in focused specifically on organic agriculture and began visiting Snug Harbor on Staten Island to help with the inaugural farm season there.

Snug Harbor Farm
Farmer Gus Jones is trying to turn this plot of land into only the second working farm on Staten Island. On three different Saturdays, we all woke up crazy early and hauled out to Staten Island to do fun farm things like make compost, turn beds, plant seedlings, and learn about soil biology. But this isn't all the fun farm things I'll be doing this year.

Snug Harbor Farm
Once the book is done, I'll finally be able to help out my friends at Battery Urban Farm (they already put me to work one day when I got off the ferry ridiculously dirty from the farm) before I head out to middle of nowhere, Nebraska for a week this summer. To hang out with cows. I love cows.

Mooo Cow
See, I didn't go into this program for the cultural "I want to be a better food writer" side, I went in because I want to work on policies that will allow us have a more sustainable food system. All those times I was in Kansas, I was almost constantly thinking about the farms and economy out there, and how they need to be saved too; how it's great we have rooftop farms and community plots, but how much impact is that really going to have in the long run. I want to let those farmers be farmers too, for them to have a living wage and good working conditions, and ultimately have the better part of our animals raised humanely. It's why, despite the costs to my pocket, I've bought almost every bit of meat for my half of the recipe testing from The Meat Hook or Heritage Meats (there was a pound of ground pork bought at Fairway, but that was only because The Meat Hook didn't have chorizo and I had to make my own). I have to practice what I preach, plus supermarket meat quite frankly skeeves me. It's doesn't hurt that the butchers do great things like meticulously cut a few pork loins for me, or freshly grind the meat I need even though I'm probably the night's last customer, or let me taste each salami to pick the perfect one, or call me when they realize they do in fact have lamb shoulder and yes it will keep until I can cook it.

Snug Harbor Farm
I've learned a lot already from just two classes including how giving a good interview is similar to sex, and why it's so incredibly hard to measure soil quality. I was able to expand upon my own interest in food scrap composting for my term paper by researching Urban Food Scrap Recycling programs if any of you are interested in that sort of thing. Of course, just because I'm out of school doesn't mean the projects stop--expect a few posts this summer regarding Greenmarkets and some farm visits beyond what's to come from Nebraska. Until then, if you're interested in learning more about sustainability and food systems, you should head over to Carolyn Dimitri's blog (she's one of my professors and she's awe-some) or if you want to know more about the program in general, feel free to drop me an email. I'll be down to chat, especially if you bring me sausage. Once the book's in, of course.


the [sugar] apothecary said...

Congratulations, girlie! You have definitely mastered (pun intended) the juggling of so many great things, from the book to the blog to your degree while still managing to enjoy the food you're eating and cooking. Super proud of you! Wishing you the best, and plenty of quality time with some awesome cows!

A-Tooch said...

AMAZING! congrats :)

Siobhan said...

Thank you, ladies! Anticipate more updates on my schooling & research projects as the years progress!