Will Raskin documented food production and consumption in the Berkshires and southern Vermont this summer. A reception will be held on Wednesday, September 19th, at 7:00 p.m., in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. The reception will feature free grilled cheese sandwiches made by Cricket Creek Farm. The show will stay up for three weeks.
Link here to Will Raskin’s online photography show.
by Will Raskin ’15
Food is obviously a prevalent element of everyday life, and it is one that we often analyze objectively and statistically. These classifications and numbers are incredibly powerful and certainly play a large role in understanding food, but they are just one tool. This summer, I attempted to explore food in our immediate area through a more visual, artistic lens.
This summer, I traveled to fourteen farms of varying size and type, three restaurants, and a food distribution center in the Berkshire area. I hope that by displaying the diversity and scope of food just in our community, I could communicate the various complexities that food in general holds. At each site, I not only explored the location in full, trying to gain a variety of perspectives, but I also attempted to talk to the people involved. These conversations proved invaluable as I shaped my artistic vision for the project.
The temptation with a project of this nature would be to portray small farms as desolate wastelands, victims of a heartless buying public and corporate, monolithic agriculture. Based on my conversations, however, this portrayal would be a gross oversimplification. Yes, some local farms struggle economically, but many utilize exciting new business models like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or tap into the burgeoning locavore movement. Truth is, however, that economics are but a small sliver of agriculture and food in general.
In my experience this summer, I was struck by the cultural element of food. The most salient aspect of food in its various forms this summer was the way in which it informed and shaped the lives of individuals and communities as a whole. For many farmers, agriculture is not only a career by choice and passion, but it is also the life they can imagine. And as a rural area, the Berkshires are quite permeated by the influences of agriculture and food in general. Hopefully my project can convey the scope, diversity, importance, and pervasiveness of food and farms in the contemporary social and cultural consciousness.