Summer in the field. With my regional scholarship and the support of (post-grad fellow) Jessica Hayes-Conroy, I am writing a blog, “The Wheaton Tomato,” about local farms that participate in farmers’ markets in Rhode Island. I’m trying to learn about what kinds of farming practices occur in these local farms, and if they are means of production I want to support. I’ve teamed up with Farm Fresh, an organization that hosts farmers markets and creates connections between local farmers, restaurants and consumers.
How did this idea sprout? I was shopping at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market and I realized that I didn’t actually know what kind of farms I was supporting–and whether I wanted to support them. Few of these farms had information about themselves on the Internet, so I decided to go straight to the source and find out for myself! Then I wanted to make this information available to everyone else.
How do you connect philosophy and farming? I have always been interested in food and ethics, so my internship combines my two favorite things! Also, I spend a lot of time thinking, or shall we say philosophizing, about food ethics and food rules.
What fuels your passion for local and sustainable? I really like food. I am at Wheaton because I love to learn, but when I grow up, I want to be working with food, not Descartes. I think that “real” food tastes a lot better than anything that has been mass produced, genetically modified, or required to undergo treatments in order to look “normal.” When you get something at a farmers’ market, it has usually been picked that day. It’s fresher, tastier and healthier.
What are you learning this summer? That there are many gray areas in the alternative food movement. For example, I recently visited two farms that use pesticides. I don’t want to support a farm that uses pesticides; however, both farms are within 20 minutes of Wheaton! Thus, I’m facing a conflict: whether or not to prioritize local, organic, or sustainable. I’m also learning that I would be happy doing food-related work for the rest of my life. Despite all of the farmers’ warnings, I want to own a farm.
What’s next: I think I want to go to graduate school, maybe at UC Berkeley, so that I can convince Michael Pollan to work with me.