How might we change the way Americans eat?
New England is home to many historic sites and old farms. The rocky farmlands, strong seasonality, and dynamic urban areas have combined to create a rich food culture unlike any other area in America. With the growth of local-only markets, urban agriculture, and “farm-to-table”restaurants, communities have invested themselves and their resources in bringing people closer to their food.
Students on this trip will explore food systems from bottom to top. By visiting local farmers and meeting with the social innovators at the forefront of this food revolution, our students will explore our changing diets first hand. With stops at chocolate factories, vegetarian fast food labs, Ben and Jerry’s, boston area innovation labs, and even a cheese maker, we’ll explore all the different facets of the American diet and our changing food systems.
We’ll being our program with a mini-road trip around New England to visit some of these incredibly rural sites, before we start work on our own revolutionary food ideas while we meet with innovators and try our some incredible new foods around Boston. In Boston, we’ll set up shop at a local co-working space to develop our own food concepts or even prototype a new product, restaurant or business in the future food economy.
We’ll begin with a drive up North to Vermont. In Vermont we will visit some of the incredible historical farms and active food producers to see where New England’s products are grown and raised. We will visit some amazing dairies and of course get a taste of the state’s most famous dairy product: Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. We will then try our hand in agriculture at local farms before driving South.
We will continue our road trip down to the smallest US State: Rhode Island. Here we will base in Providence to explore this city’s dynamic center and meet with some local food experts. We’ll get out of the city to visit with local fisherfolk and learn how to make Goat Cheese and prep our own lunch with a young local farmer.
We will end back in the Hub: Boston, where we will have a chance to explore some of the food innovations around the city. We will go for lunch at a Vegetarian fast food restaurant inspired by MIT and learn how they grew from a food truck into a local chain. We’ll visit a food lab that is creating new food products, learn about local food deserts, and even meet some local innovators working to change the diet through business and social enterprise. Finally we’ll take some time at the end of the program to pull our ideas together, or maybe even test out our own food concepts!
While the core of this program can take place at many times of the year, many activities will vary depending on the season. We can customize this program to focus on different elements of the food system, such as agriculture, equity, environmental sustainability, social justice or some combination. By adding in visits to local soup kitchens and organizations working on food access the program could take an entirely different direction too.
This program could also be framed as a Global Design Studio where we carve out more intentional time for research or project time for students to design and test their own food innovations inspired by the visits of the trip and their research.
Of course if you are interested in food systems in other parts of the world check out some of our related programs as well.