Professor Ed Gamber, head of Department of Economics at Lafayette College developed a first year seminar on Food and the role of food in society. “Food shapes our identity and how we see the world. How are food choices influenced by nutrition, culture and religion? Are our food choices conscious decisions, habit, or mere calorie acquisition? What are the economic, technological and political influences on food choice? The course will critically examine the varied, complex, and often subtle influences on the most fundamental choices that all humans face: What do I eat?” I was thrilled to give a lecture for the Found Food class as well as take the students on a forage around the campus in Easton Pennsylvanie. Professor Gamber then gave the students this writing assignment:
FYS 185 The Foods We Choose Fall 2012 Foraging Paper Assignment
This paper is due Thursday. Bring two copies to class, and post one using the drop box.
Find an edible plant somewhere on campus, not where we foraged with Tama, and stretch yourself beyond wood sorrel. DO NOT PICK MUSHROOMS.
Photograph the plant. Include the photograph in your essay.
Your assignment is to write about your foraged plant. Here are some questions you should address in your paper.
Where did you find the plant? Describe the surrounding area. Discuss whether you would feel safe eating your plant.
How did you identify the plant? Describe the detailed features of the plant. Tama’s book describes the detailed features of many of the plants you are likely to find around campus.
What does the plant taste like? You need not taste the plant you picked, especially if it is picked from an area that may have been sprayed, or otherwise polluted. If you decide not to taste it, describe the “textbook” flavor profile. If you do decide to taste it BE SURE IT IS CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED AND THE AREA FROM WHICH IT IS HARVESTED IS SAFE FROM ANY CONTAMINANTS.
How would your plant be used as food? Which part of your plant would be used for food? Describe how you would integrate your plant into a recipe. Include the recipe.
What is the origin of your plant? For this you will have to do some digging around the Internet and in the library. Find out whether your plant is native or invasive. Is your plant related to some other “domesticated” edible plant? Was your plant ever a staple in some other region of the world or some other time period in history?
What is the nutritional content of your plant? Compare your plant’s nutritional content to the nutritional content of a familiar food item. Does your plant have medicinal properties?
How does or can foraging fit into the larger food production, distribution system? Don’t be preachy; present a thoughtful discussion about the potential scope of foraging activities.
How has foraging affected the way you think about food?