Crescent City Farmer’s Market

My first stop was at the Farmer’s Market in New Orleans. Having lived in New Orleans for 19 years, I have grown close to many of the farmers at the market held three blocks away from my house every Tuesday morning. The farmers were incredibly helpful and more than willing to help me with my project! I spoke to a dairy farmer who had worked in his three-generation-family business his whole life, and when I asked him whether we should be eating locally he replied “People should know where there food is coming from. Today, the way that they do things with the bst, the hormones, it can’t be good for you. Buying from someone like us, just a local farmer, what you see on our tables is what we do. We make produce our milk, we grass feed our cows. Not because the government tells us to, but because it’s the right way to do it”. Not surprisingly, I consistently found the farmers adamant that more individuals should be visiting the Farmer’s Market for local and fresh food. I heard many stories of how farming is a difficult and tedious job, especially when many tend to leave the occupation to work for the power plants that came to the city. Every one that I spoke to was enthusiastic about their profession and was disappointed that so many farmers had moved on to other lines of work. One vegetable farmer commented, “That’s why in our area we hardly have any farmer’s left. In the river parish area, St. Johns, St. Charles, St. James Parish there is so much industry that the youngers fellows go there. In the last 50 years they have gotten slowly away from farming to go work for the plants. And I know both ends of it, I worked for the plants too and it’s much easier, you get all kinds of benefits you get vacation, hospitalizations whereas farming you are on your own. You have to be willing to work seven days a week”. Overall, it was a wonderful morning. One of the individuals that I interviewed even convinced me to try steamed kale, despite its daunting foot-long leaves. My next stop is interviewing Dickie Brennan, owner of three wonderful restaurants in New Orleans. As I move between individuals and hear such fascinating stories, I’m beginning to see just how many angles my project can take on.

Terroir Research Project

This year, I worked closely with one of my professors to develop a research project centered on terroir and its connections to culture and health. I plan on first delving into the science of terroir, what exactly it is, and in what foods is it best preserved. I am starting this research by reading on the subject, mostly books like Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town and similar titles, as well as studying terroir in cheese, coffee, wine, olive oil, and meat. After that, I will extend my research to broader questions that relate to the industrialization of food, and examine the implications of an increasingly processed food industry. Specifically, I will look into how terroir has become a foreign concept to our generation and how we can regain this insight into our lives. Finally, I will examine the attempts of small farms, restaurants, schools, and the ‘slow food’ movement at revitalizing terroir in our daily lives by providing their communities with education and support.  A part of my project consists in photographing all those that I meet, the farms that I visit, and restaurants that I write about so that I can have a PowerPoint to show my school upon my return.

Road Trippin’

So I’ve done a little over three weeks of summer research, and it’s going pretty well so far. The first week mostly consisted of getting oriented and learning how to use the various (and extremely expensive it turns out) pieces of equipment that I would be using in the field. Among these are the Schmidt Hammer (to test rock strength), the Total Station (for surveying sample points), and the GPS. During week two, I set up and began running trials with the channel erosion computer model developed by Dr. Hancock last year. I am currently using the model to explore channel cross-section response to changes in baselevel lowering rate (this is effectively the rate at which the channel is cutting down through the bedrock). I do this by running trials lasting 200,000 years. For the first 100,000 years, the model operates with an annual baselevel lowering rate of .01 m/yr. Then, at year 100,000, the rate is changed by a factor of my choosing. I have run trials changing the erosion rate by factors as varied as .o1 and 100. Once these models have run, I use a MATLAB script I put together to smooth the data with a moving average method and export the data to fixed-width text files so that I can use it for further analysis. Though I am still sorting through the millions of years of erosion data I have produced, I can begin to make some preliminary observations.

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