This week, my fellow future gastronomers and I got our hands dirty.
On Monday, we discussed food from a sociological standpoint; we covered a whole variety of topics ranging from the question of whether religious dietary restrictions would lead one on a path to ‘holiness’ or were produced as a result of limitations set by their physical environments, to the paradox of being omnivorous as well as the relationship between cultural identity and diet.
Then on Tuesday, we began the day in the allotment in gorgeous Scottish weather (blustery and rainy conditions, of course) where we employed the no-till farming method. Instead of pulling out unwanted plants and physically disturbing the soil, we cut down anything we deemed to be unnecessary. We then covered the beds with cardboard boxes; this allows the plants underneath to decompose and -hopefully- enrich the less than nutrient dense soil we are currently working with.
After the boxes, a very healthy amount of compost is dumped and spread on top followed by some burlap sacks to keep everything warm and snug until it’s time to plant. In addition to this, some of us planted green manure in our ‘active’ plant bed to get some much need Nitrogen back into the soil and to prevent any erosion from the strong Scottish winds this Winter.
In the afternoon, we had a guest speaker, Mark Bush from Summer Harvest Oils, who told us about the process of growing and making rapeseed oil, a product I’d never heard of or seen back in the States. We also tasted his finished product, a very clean, earthy, and beautifully golden oil (that I definitely had more than a taste of), as well as other brands on the market.
We also squeezed in a bit of a debate on whether GMOs were essential for sustaining the world’s growing population or if there were viable alternatives to keep us all fed.
On Sunday, we have our rescheduled beekeeping course at Colstoun (I previously mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, but it had to be moved to this Sunday) which I am extremely excited about. We will also be paying a trip into Edinburgh, more specifically Leith, where we will be getting a taste of migrant food culture. And Tuesday, we will be returning to Colstoun to do a bit of cooking, to learn about the chemical and mechanical processes involved in making what we eat (hello maillard reaction!).