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.


  1. jewoods says:

    This research proposal is very interesting and has led me to ask you this question; Do you think that the increased industrialization of food is a direct effect of the increasing human population? In addition, seeing as industrialized food isn’t necessarily healthy; are their any solutions to possibly improving food quality on that scale, while keeping the product at an affordable price? If not, this result could lead people looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle to shop at the farmer’s market in response to your second post.

  2. Hi, thanks for reading the post! I apologize that it has taken me so long to respond to your questions, I just now realized how to check for comments. In response to your questions, many of which I am tackling myself, I can most simply say that there exists neither a short explanation for nor a fast solution for the mess we have created in the food industry. The increased production of food undoubtedly came out of demand; as the world population rose, scientists began cross breeding crops for higher yields (this is most clearly seen in the modifications of wheat, which was genetically modified for shorter stalks in hopes of relieving world hunger in the mid 20th century). Many advocates of the current food situation (if you can find any outside of large corporations) would use this point of necessity to justify the modifications and the monopolization that we see today. While there was certainly a need for increased yield, the means by which the yield was achieved is questionable and is perhaps responsible for the complications today. I would be curious, for example, to see what the world would look like if instead of genetically modifying and processing foods, more individuals turned towards agriculture as a lifestyle and continued raising the crops that existed hitherto. This of course is not the way that history developed, but could be an option for the future (giving the healthier option a more affordable price). For now, and in response to how I believe we should shop for food, you should view your money (particularly that which is spent on food) as a vote. Your money is an opportunity to support the companies, farmers, and ethical standards that you believe in. Much of our food system today is a result of our purchasing power and the tendency of Americans to buy cheap, despite the consequences, i.e. not knowing where our food is coming from or how it may affect our bodies. The best thing you can do is vocally and monetarily support that which you agree with. Which means you may have to do some research, visit farmer’s markets, and look at the ingredients in your favorite foods. Please let me know if you have any more questions!

  3. I’ve read all of your blog entries and as a foodie, I enjoyed in immensely. It seems like an awesome way to spend the summer. I am still a little confused about the concept of terroir. Is terroir used only in association with foods like cheese, wine, coffee, etc., or is that just where it started? It seems like you’re study is more broadly focused on the locavore movement and how to create a diet that is environmentally sustainable and nutritionally sound. Anyways, I enjoyed the blog and it sounds like the class that you take this fall will be an interesting addition to your study.