Connections Summer 2016 Features

Nourishing Mind and Body

by Mary Caroline Powers

Nourishing Mind and Body

In devoting much of the space in this issue of Connections to food, we thought we could tap into New Yorkers’ regional pride about certain dishes.

You know, salt potatoes in Syracuse and beans and greens in Utica, Coney Island hot dogs and Binghamton’s Spiedies, Rochester’s Garbage Plate and North Country poutine. And street food, oh, street food!

But the state and its citizens, including the many thousands who have graduated from Empire State College or who are currently attending, are an eclectic group open to trying new foods and combining the flavors of one cuisine with the tastes of another. To say that all you can get to eat in Flushing is dumplings and duck would be very, very far from the truth.

So, we decided to steer away from the downstate pizza wars, the unending debate about which roast beef on weck joint is the best in Buffalo, and whether the potato chip really was invented in Saratoga. 

Instead we reached out to our faculty and staff, our alumni and current students and what we found was a treasure trove of foodies. These are not just people who like to eat, they like to cook for themselves and others, they want to ensure a safe food supply and protect the land where we grow the food we eat. They are genuinely concerned about the increasing fragility of the earth. They are working to produce and save organic and pure-strain seeds. They are supporting farmers markets by the scores and engaging in the community supported agriculture movement. They are tapping maple trees and creating community connections with their restaurants. They are writing about food, photographing food, growing food, cooking food and eating it. And they are studying it.

Our faculty have taken some deep dives into the history, science and nutritional value of food and are sharing what they’ve learned with our students; our alumni are attending college-sponsored events, gathering to share fine food and wine and their ESC experience, all the while celebrating the extraordinary agricultural riches the state of New York has to offer.

The bounty seems endless: Long Island’s fruits de mer and all those Hudson Valley apples, the rich milk products – cheeses, yogurt, ice cream – produced in the stretches of rolling farmland between Albany and the shores of Lake Erie, the lovely and lucious wines of the Finger Lakes region.

If there is a message we really want to deliver it is this: the passion of New Yorkers about their food and drink will drive the momentum-gaining effort to preserve, protect and promote our food, our farms and our fertile soils for generations to come. And the more we know about this, the more we can learn and study
and integrate these ideas into our knowledge base, the greater the chances these goals will be achieved.