Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I am currently taking “Community-Based Study of Environmental Issues”, a required class for the environmental studies major that changes scale and focus every semester. This semester, our class is examining the vulnerabilities of different agricultural industries in Madison County in face of climate change. I am in a group of three students looking at the history and current state of maple and how it is predicted to change in the future. Maple is a relatively small industry, mainly a supplemental income or hobby. Most maple farmers in Madison County are on the elderly side and, when asked why they produce maple products, say they do it because their parents did it and because it’s the local tradition. While the ramifications of climate change are unclear for the maple industry, I think a more predictable determiner of maple’s fate is in the translation of the family tradition sentiment to the next generation. If there are no maple producers, climate change cannot really have an effect on the maple industry. Said differently, maple must still be a socially relevant industry in order for discussions on the impact of climate change to make sense. This really emphasizes the social component of food systems and how people affect the food that is available or desired. It also shows how interrelated environmental, economic, and social phenomenon are because producers can only continue to produce maple if it is economically viable, if it is socially desired, and if the environmental consequences allow for it. As we move forward, it will be important to look at more food items and general food systems in this way.