Many Green Mountain classes each semester include study of how the food choices we make every day influence a long chain of variables, including the health of our natural surroundings, our communities, and our society. This study often brings students and professors out of the classroom, to the campus farm, other regional farms, or into contact with local environmental organizations. Read some of the courses in the list below to get an idea of what our professors and students have done.
Food, Society & Environment Community Dinner
This class, devoted to developing an understanding of social issues associated with food within and across countries, held a free Community Dinner in the Withey Dining Hall for Poultney lower-income Poultney residents each semester for the past two years. The class recruited Green Mountain students on the meal plan to donate their evening meal on the date of the dinner, and helped host the meal on the night of the dinner. Students in the class did other activities to learn about social issues relating to food, including documenting everything they ate for a week and thinking about the social and health implications of those foods, and interviewing a senior citizen (65 years or older) about food production, processing, distribution and consumption when he or she was in childhood and adolescence.
Environmental Ethics Slaughterhouse Visit
As part of this three-credit class on current environmental ethical questions, students have the choice to attend an extra-credit field trip to the slaughterhouse at Over the Hill Farm in Benson, Vt. The tour, aimed at familiarizing students with the reasoning behind environmental theories like Peter Singer's "animal liberation," starts with the animals waiting their turn to be slaughtered, and then takes the students into the slaughter-room, where they stand 20 feet from where workers stun and bleed cattle and hogs. The students then witness the process by which this once-living creature becomes a hanging side of beef or pork over the course of 30 to 40 minutes. Students debrief and discuss the moral consequences of eating meat, and the effect of having seen a sentient creature slaughtered for food. The course, and trip to Over the Hill Farm, is offered every semester.
Watershed Management Writes Comments for Local Basin Plan
In 2002, the Watershed Management & Planning class wrote the comment responses and first phase implementation plan for the Poultney-Mettowee Basin Plan. Since watershed issues in the area primarily involve runoff from farms, the class had studied Farm Bill policy, and in writing the plan evaluated the impact of Accepted Agricultural Practices and other farm-based impacts in the area. Students also studied watershed planning law and watershed issues in Vermont and the United States.
Public Policy & the Environment Writes Farm Policy
Students in this three-credit class worked with the Cerridwen Farm to write the "Unproductive Animal Policy," to define how the farm should act with regard to expenses and labor efforts to care for and feed animals that produce no profit. The policy proved helpful when it came to making difficult decisions about whether or not to undergo expensive Veterinary surgery and other care on unproductive farm animals.