As my time in Middlebury this summer is coming to a close I am feeling very reflective on all of the things that I have learned and the ways that that I have grown. I think the change that I am the most grateful for this summer is my deepened appreciation for eating local and my personal role in the food economy. Before this summer I never truly understand the need to eat local or all the various components that are necessary to allow a sustainable food economy to function. Now after taking this class in addition to living on my own and needing to purchase my own food, I have a much deeper understanding of the tension that exists between buying local and eating cheap food. I think that this is a real issue and this summer has shown me ways that I can support the local food economy while also managing a strict budget. Vermont as a food economy is vastly different from the suburbs of Pennsylvania where I grew up and exploring this has giving me a whole new perspective that I really appreciate. In Vermont I feel that it is very important to many members of the community to try to support local farmers and in my experience it is common to see families who demonstrate this support by going to Farmers’ markets, having gardens outside of their houses or using or supporting the local Co-op. For example when we visited Professor Anderson’s house it was inspiring to see how much of her family’s own food was grown right in her small garden outside of her house. Additionally, a large portion of the other food that her family consumed seemed to be local. I remember reading in “The Town that Food Saved” a point that was made by Ben Hewitt that stuck out to me. He mentioned how the average american does not take any part in the growing or processing of their food but instead simply consumes processed food with no idea where it has come from or how it was produced. Although a sustainable lifestyle in which every individual takes some part in growing their own food may seem daunting, I think that it is definitely worth it. When I am older with my own house and family I want to remember these sentiments and take the initiative to learn how to produce as much of my own food as possible no matter how daunting a task it may initially feel.
Another reflection that I am experiencing after finishing this class is the enormous importance that community has on promoting a sustainable food economy. One example that we witnessed occurred at the VFFC. In the video that was shown to our class, Greg spoke about how the plans for his project seemed impossible but because there was such a strong sense of community and desire among the people to initiate change, the program is now well on its way. This was especially impressive considering that the initial vision for the VFFC seemed almost completely impossible. When I get home, while I am in Madrid and even next year at Midd I want to try to continue to spread these messages and encourage people to care about the food economy the way that I now do. As a community we need everyone to rally around this cause because it is so important and affects everyone, how we all live and our world! I feel hopeful and inspired after taking this class that I can make a change and do others to do so as well.
Overall, it is amazing to look back at this summer and reflect on the lifestyle changes that I now feel that I will initiate because my internship and this class has changed my perspective on food. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to take this class and I want to give back by spreading this knowledge however I can, volunteering for various organizations, continuing my work for Midd Foods and engaging in my own sustainable practices. I will never forget the very special summer that I have had here at Middlebury and I am so excited to see the ways in which the lessons that I have learned will influence how I approach my last couple of semesters here.