Friday, January 28, 2011

The Pickle Project

I just learned about a unique food, agriculture, and culture project that showcases the universality of our interest in food, agriculture, and sustainability. 

It does not involve our alumni, at least yet, but it comes to me through Professor Kelley's link to the Fulbright Scholar community.  And, I just contacted the women involved so I can make a connection for our Program.

The Pickle Project was spearheaded by two Fulbright Research Fellows, Sarah Crow and Linda Norris.  Both had the opportunity to live in Ukraine, a fascinating country with rich food and agricultural traditions.  Building upon their experiences, Sarah and Linda have developed the project as a "multifaceted effort that observes Ukrainian foodways and traditions, using them as a lens for exploring sustainability, community and change."

This is how they describe their work:
The recent designation of several foods and food practices by  UNESCO as “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” illustrates a  growing recognition of the importance of food and food systems. For food  is not merely a commodity but also a symbol of identity and a direct  reflection of the human condition and our natural environment. As noted  food scholar Marion Nestle suggests, food makes abstractions real and  the political personal (2009). This arena of research is underdeveloped  in Ukraine, a nation, landscape and culture with an intimate and rich  history related to food production, scarcity, diversity and identity.
The Pickle Project ventures to illuminate those connections in  contemporary Ukraine, through personal stories, profiles and recipes,  and share them with diverse audiences using multiple vehicles. These  include social media, The Pickle Project blog, Twitter (you can follow us @PickleProject)  and Facebook networks but also through the development of innovative  traveling exhibitions and programs, that would tour the United States  and Ukraine. This suite of methods is designed to stimulate community  conversations about the interesting and increasingly relevant issues of  food, culture and sustainability.
Professor Kelley was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine five years ago, and his experiences there led to rich connections with this fascinating country and its wonderful people.  From my visits and our Ukrainian friends, I can attest to the intimate connections and the culture associated with Ukrainian food. Sarah and Linda may really be on to something here - particularly, as Ukraine's rich agricultural land comes under increased pressure for foreign control.

In addition to following the links above, check out their Kickstarter page. They are raising funds for the project and are close to their goal - although they have a February 1 deadline.  I just became a supporter, and on behalf of our program, I will reach out to Sarah and Linda.  Watch for further updates!

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