It’s called FOAG, for short — the Food and Agriculture Studies minor.
The Middlebury College Organic Garden (MCOG) announced on their blog MiddFood last week that they’d begin offering the unofficial designation as a “MCOG sponsored course of study” in the Fall, along with a selection of student-led courses. The first course will be “Methods in Organic Agriculture,” a primer course on producing food sustainably in the Vermont landscape.
The description goes on to list the current official academic offerings that make up the unofficial minor. Courses span the range from intro science in ENVS 112 (the intro environmental science course) to upper level Sociology/Anthropology in SOAN 345 (the Anthropology of Food). Chances are students will be knocking down the doors to take: ITAL 0299 / LITP 0299 (Literary Feasts: Representations of Food in Modern Narrative, in English). Also required in the minor is a variety of activities including volunteer hours at the organic garden and dinners at Weybridge and Dolci. A section of “encouraged experiences” also recommends apprenticeship on an organic farm, a semester in Weybridge House, working as a Dolci employee, and general restaurant work.
Led by Amanda Warren ’11 and Ben Blackshear ’12, this idea of students using already available resources to align what’s often seen as “extracurricular” with the academic is powerful. It demonstrates not only student initiative and leadership but a legitimate intellectual excitement in Food (with a capital F). The two-fold Weybridge House-MCOG model is simply not enough to encapsulate this broad perspective of Food that includes global health (rumors of a new official major designation coming soon?), development (hello, econ and polisci kids), Sustainability (Hillcrest ftw), agricultural sciences (the BiHall boom), etc.