Taking a Bite out of Hunger



Tory Glerum

While there are always more than enough munchies on campus to feed Colgate’s hungry community, several events organized for Eat Local, Think Global Day on Tuesday, November 11, gave participants a whole new look at the issues of food and hunger.

The day began with a lunch discussion in the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center led by Associate Professor of English at the City University of New York and CUNY Graduate Center Frank Kaufman, and Colgate Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies Nancy Reis. Students and professors ate and chatted informally about issues related to sustainable agriculture, bioengineering, factory farming, the history of food and food in contemporary culture.

Professor of University Studies Monica Burczyk invited Kaufman, who has written several books and articles about food culture, to campus. Monica and some of the students helped organize Eat Local, Think Global day as a way to extend the issues addressed in the required first-year reading, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, to the rest of the Colgate community.

“The book details the choices consumers make in what they consume and how they produce what they consume,” Burczyk said. “I read it knowing a little bit about why eating closer to home is wiser, but I started to get really excited. After talking to farmers down at the farmer’s market and hearing about Kaufman’s book, I wanted to organize something fun, informative and interesting for me and the students.”

At 4:15 p.m., Professor Kaufman gave a reading entitled “A Short History of the American Stomach,” in 20 Lawrence. This book, according to Kaufman’s website, moves “from the secret history of Puritan purges to interviews with Amish black-market raw-milk dealers” to tell the story of America “by way of the American stomach.”

The Hunger Banquet, organized by the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program, CHOP and Oxfam, was held in James C. Colgate Hall at 5:30 p.m. When guests arrived they were split into three groups representing the lower, middle and upper classes based on respective international percentages of people making up these three classes: 50 percent, 35 percent and 15 percent. They were then provided with place settings and food representative of their class catered by Madison Bounty, a local consortium of producers. The lower class ate only potatoes sitting on the floor, the middle class ate squash and potatoes sitting in chairs and the upper class ate pasta, bread and salad sitting at an actual table. After dinner, guests split into groups to evaluate what they just experienced and discuss the issue of hunger and poverty in Hamilton.

Ingrid Hale, Director of the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE), said she thought the banquet was a great success.

“There was a really great turnout and strong participation of students, faculty and community members,” she said.

Sophomore Lindsay Miller started an Oxfam group at Colgate this year to focus on the issues of hunger, poverty, violence and social injustice addressed by the national government organization of Oxfam. In addition to organizing the Hunger Banquet this semester, members of Oxfam on campus have engaged in letter writing campaigns to support the passing of the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act, which would render companies who mine natural resources and have monetary actions with the government transparent to the public.

Sophomore Jen Croner, a member of both Oxfam and CHOP, said the banquet was important to raise awareness on campus.

“It was a way to get students out of the Colgate bubble and help them realize that hunger is not just a national issue, but a big problem right here in Hamilton,” she said.

The final event of the day was a panel of local farmers, producers and consumers gathered to discuss their experiences with local food. The panel began at James C. Colgate Hall at 7:30 p.m. with free pastries provided by Madison Bounty, as well as colorful stands set up by local farmers displaying pictures and information about their farms and products.

Reis began by introducing the seven panelists, and then the panelists give short presentations about themselves and their endeavors. Amy Brown and Chris Babis, the owners of Common Thread Community Farm, located right in Hamilton, discussed the idea of Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, as a partnership between consumers and farmers that thrives off annual harvest, mutual relationships, financial stability and community strength.

Elva Svendsen, owner of Natural Borders Farm, raises grass-fed lamb, beef and limited poultry and pork, and maintains beehives and maple trees from which to extract honey and maple syrup. She discussed her diverse breeds of animals and showed numerous pictures of her farm. Daniel Kline of Ingallside Meadows Farm raises beef, pork and poultry completely out of confinement and sells his products directly to individuals. Kline has a stand every Saturday at the local farmers market on the Village Green.

After the farmers spoke, Alicyn Hart, chef and co-owner of Circa Restaurant in Cazenovia, discussed her goal to use as many local, sustainable and organic products as possible in preparing her menu and to create a comfortable and fun dining atmosphere for individuals of various socioeconomic groups. Frank Sciacca, a professor at Hamilton College and a co-leader of Central Leathering Region Slow-Food, explained the basis of the Slow Food movement as an international effort to combat fast food and support the traditional notion of taking food directly from the land. Kaufman wrapped the presentations up by expressing how fortunate Central New York is to have people working to develop such a strong relationship with the land. He also brought up the notion of combing the organic and Slow Food movements with scientific endeavors involving bioengineering.

Burczyk said that she hoped the day would be the first of more Eat Local, Think Global days to come. She said she would love to get more students involved in the future, as some of her FSEM students expressed interest in picking and cooking the food for the Hunger Banquet themselves.

“I wanted the day to be a sort of delicious banquet for students rather than something Colgate thought they needed,” Burczyk said. “I hope the events provided a sampling of interesting things related to individuals and their experiences.”