Food Systems Analysis & Research
I have been doing research on the past, present and future of terroir, or as I have translated it, the taste of place, since 2000. Initially, I spent time exploring the historical development of terroir as a cultural category linking food, drink and place in France. I went on to investigate the work of farmers, cheesemakers, winemakers, chefs and other in the contemporary United States to, in effect, create a version of the taste of place here in the United States. This culminated in the publication of The Taste of Place, A Cultural Journey into Terroir (University of California Press) in May of 2008. My continued research into the taste of place has now expanded into exploring the possibility of how this idea can support specialized markets for place based foods as well as new regional cuisines in the United States. I am now involved in an inter-disciplinary, collaborative project with a sensory scientist, a geologist, a chemist , an environmental writer and a maple syrup expert to use terroir as a way of understanding and promoting Vermont maple syrup. This research includes analyzing maple syrup from particular bedrock, looking at connections between chemical compounds and location of sugarbushes and sensory analysis of maple syrup with consumers. With the help of University of Vermont students we are extending the project to consider the terroir of Vermont farmstead cheese.
Ethnography of Cooking
My second area of research examines the link between cooking practices, cooking knowledge and individual health. This research involves a qualitative research project looking at the food environment, people's cooking skill and cooking knowledge, and individual health. This project has several research strands: one is to interview people about everyday choices on what and how to cook dinner and then to videotape them making dinner; the second is to do a textual analysis of iconic American cookbooks and manuscript archives (including The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking) for assumptions about what Americans do or do not know about cooking; and the third is to identify long term changes in the American food system and the impacts on everyday cooking. We hope this research will have applications for the development of better intervention strategies to address contemporary nutrition issues.
The long-anticipated new cooking lab in Marsh Life Sciences!
Last modified May 12 2009 10:37 AM