While Woolman has been a great adventure so far, no other activity has come close to the food intensive. Throughout the six days, the amount of experience and perspective I gained about the food system is unprecedented. One stop on our packed trip was to Full Belly Farm in Guinda. In class while reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, we learned about small-scale, mostly organic farms that operate with the assistance of the animals that live on the farm, illustrated by Pollan using the model used by Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms. In the book, Pollan describes how Salatin uses his animals to help fertilize and replenish the fields. At Full Belly Farm, we saw exactly this in action. After a field has been farmed, the farmers at Full Belly plant a cover crop. Once this grows, they set their sheep onto the field, which will eat all the grass and help fertilize the soil and provide their animals with food. In addition, after corn has been harvested they let the cows eat the remaining plants. Both of these are concepts described by Pollan.
Another one of my favorite places that we visited on our trip was the Wolfskill USDA germplasm repository. I was completely enthralled by the concept that they essentially had almost every single variety of grapes and figs. The scale of this place hit me as I was roaming the grape vineyards sampling all the different varieties and pondering the fact that there are so many different types of grapes that I had never tasted before, let alone heard of. While many students were disturbed by the fact that nobody was eating the food, I wasn’t. I don’t feel that it is somehow wrong that that food is going to “waste” because in my opinion, what the scientists at Wolfskill are doing with those plants is more important in the long term and will keep more people from going hungry further down the line, in addition to the fact that they give away clippings of the plants per request. Over all the food intensive was a great experience which really helped me shape my opinion about how I think I should eat and where to get my food. I now feel confident in my decisions pertaining to food and way of life after hearing many conflicting views and ideas throughout this trip.