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Why Work for the Pharm(aceutical Industry) When You Can Work for the Actual Farm?

Mar. 19, 2008

by Slow Food in Schools Coordinator, Cecily Upton

Here at Slow Food USA, we’ve been noticing an interesting and exciting trend: young folks eschewing the corporate/industrial complex and going back to the land and back to the kitchen.

We’re not the only ones who noticed it either–Saturday’s New York Times Style Section included a lengthy article about young farmers, featuring Slow Food friend and filmmaker Severine Von Tscharner Fleming and my very own CSA farmers from Hearty Roots Community Farm and Awesome Farm, Ltd.
Beyond the Times article, though, we’ve heard from other youngsters about how Slow Food has helped shape their career choices. Slow Food Princeton campus chapter leader Joe Vellone writes:

"Having taken classes on food in American culture, environmental science, and economics, I’ve learned a learned a lot about the theories behind farming practices, food distribution, and markets. But learning about those concepts and experiencing them first-hand are two completely different things. Sure, I could have spent this summer working for an investment bank like so many of my classmates, but ultimately I would have come out empty this summer (though my wallet would have been full!).

A summer working on an organic farm, or volunteering for a greenmarket, or interning at a nonprofit in the food sector isn’t just about the experience: it’s about walking the walk instead of just talking the talk by eating locally and buying organic."

Katy Anderson, another Princetonian, said "After working in wealth management over the summer, I thought heavily about taking an offer from JP Morgan for a three year position after college. But ultimately, my interest in sustainable food won out - with a background in farming and a passion for good, clean, fair food expanded by my experience with Slow Food, I am incredibly excited to take this riskier, less straightforward route."

Severine, whose film "The Greenhorns" documents the experiences of young farmers across the country, has some words of advice for those looking to support this movement:

"Many in the Slow Food movement have a commitment to place, a dedication to their regional cuisine, a nose for apricot season. If you are lucky enough to own land, you might consider lending your land to a young farmer tenant. One, three, twelve, forty acres/hectares might very well not be economically viable to farm for a holiday-owner, or even for a conventional local producer of citrus, or olive, or apple–but that might be just enough land for a young intrepid farmer to grow a crop of dry-farmed tomatoes for sauce, or marjoram to dry, or even a small
vegetable operation for one of those restaurants which is on the cusp of buying locally- except that the supply is missing.

Begin to negotiate the terms of a new interaction with place, with the community relations that inform sensitive stewardship, begin a conversation with the next generation, share what you know, and nurture their fierce idealism with a piece of land to practice it upon."

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