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A Rich and Fertile Land with Bruce Kraig

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NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health

411 Lafayette St., 5th Fl. (between East 4th and Astor Place)

New York, NY 10003

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A Rich and Fertile Land: Cultural Ideas That Shaped America’s Food

and Agricultural Landscape

with Bruce Kraig

In 1836, President Andrew Jackson received a gift, a 1400-pound cheese, 2 feet thick and 11 feet in circumference. Created by Col. Thomas S. Meacham, a dairy farmer with lands north of Syracuse, the mammoth cheese caused a sensation as it was sent by boat along the Erie Canal to Albany, down the Hudson to New York City, and on to Washington. Americans considered the cheese and its journey proof of modern American mastery over the environment. Yet less than two generations before, James Fenimore Cooper had called that area of New York a “wilderness.” How and why did the landscape (and Americans’ attitudes towards it) change from an untamed wild to a “civilized” terrain?

From early Native Americans to modern industrial farmers, people have imagined the ideal agricultural landscape and have attempted to transform their environments in pursuit of those conceptions. This talk looks at some of the ideas that drove those transformations, how those ideas were altered by available tools, and how changing ideas of “progress” transform the land.

The lecture is followed by a tasting of American agricultural products.

Bruce Kraig is emeritus professor of history and humanities at Roosevelt University, Chicago; founder and president emeritus of the Culinary Historians of Chicago; and a founder of Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance. He has written, edited, or coauthored numerous books and articles for both scholarly and popular audiences, including A Rich and Fertile Land: A History of Food in America, published in 2017.



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NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health

411 Lafayette St., 5th Fl. (between East 4th and Astor Place)

New York, NY 10003

View Map

Refund Policy

Contact the organizer to request a refund.

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