The Food Connection

During this program students will explore food and the way that its consumption, production and allocation has largely defined the world we live in. This is an interdisciplinary learning experience, looking at food and its contexts within science, art, history and society. Students will discover the ecological principles that determine trophic relationships and examine the multiple ways that feeding processes have helped shape the environment and our relationship to the natural world, as well as humanity’s biological traits, cultural identities and various political and social institutions.

The trip will involve a series of excursions into wild landscapes where students will actively take part in various hands-on games and exercises to explore their relationship to food and nutrition. We will enact role-playing games to explore a range of human food acquisition strategies that have been significant in human evolution and history; such as hunter gathering, farming and animal husbandry. Students will collect plants, try some hunting techniques and see if they can manage collect enough edible resources to create a ‘meal’ for themselves (whether they actually eat it or not is another matter!).

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We will learn about edible and poisonous plants and acquire some practical skills related to gathering wild plants and foraging. Students will discover for themselves that human cultural knowledge (traditional knowledge, passed from generation to generation) is essential when trying to make a living in the natural world. We will also try out some approaches towards cooking and food processing and various field food storage techniques.

Students will visit a local, small-scale wine producer to see how the vines are grown and experience ancient local wine making traditions. A visit to a vibrant farmers market in the town of Chivasso, will immerse participants in a rich world of biodiversity, peasants and seasonal produce from the land.

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This trip will touch on some of the most pertinent and topical areas of food, such as, health and diet as well as exploring ideas of culinary heritage and cultural traditions. We will also begin to think about the ethics of eating and the great scale of consumption and waste that dominate the lifestyles of the privileged few and relate these issues to social justice and ecological sustainability.

Students will gain insight into how we are all inescapably reliant on ecological products and services and intrinsically connected to the natural world through our food production and consumption. They will discover that our agricultural methods and food production technologies are key factors that will help determine what our world will be like in the future.

The group will stay in the fantastic Castello di San Sebastiano da Po and be catered for by a quality chef, who specialises in Piemontese cuisine and uses the freshest local products. By the end of this sensorial trip, students will realise for themselves that; ‘what we eat is what we are’, and that ‘what we are is what we eat’!

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Activities & excursions during the trip will include the following:

  • Creation of miniature model villages: group activity where students are challenged to build their own self sustaining human settlements with agricultural systems, food production and storage
  • Hunter-gathering time machine adventure; where students go back in time to explore hunting techniques, tool and trap making, and survival strategies while in a wild-woodland setting.
  • Group drama where students will create their short plays about the future of food and possible futuristic scenarios (with themes such as: A meal as a pill, a meal as an ‘app’; genetically engineered flesh as meat; growing crops on other planets; communities being obliged to produce their own food and feed themselves)
  • Creation of a ‘pseudomeal’ role-play using natural materials that are collected and prepared in the wild
  • Visit to a small-scale local wine producer to experience wine production and learn about viniculture traditions and techniques
  • Ethnobotany field workshop; a hands-on practical session where students learn some skills related wild plant identification uses wild as food resources
  • Visit to a thriving farmers market in the town of Chivasso, where students will experience biodiversity and rich local culture and food heritage
  • Visit to a 250 year old working mill that produces stone-ground flour and other traditional products
  • Hikes and healthy exercise in beautiful natural landscapes discovering a wealth of natural miracles and having exciting adventures