2 week intensive course in Ghent

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University offers Master students the possibility to participate in a 2-week intensive course on Micro-organisms and Traditional Food. During these intensive weeks, you follow lectures by various scholars from around Europe focusing on both social and microbiological sciences, you work on group assignments and go on excursions. This time the IP takes place in Ghent from 4 to 15 February 2013. Last year 4 MFT students experienced 2 interesting weeks in Rumania. You can read about their adventures (and more info about the programme) here: https://ruralsociologywageningen.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/interested-in-multidisciplinarity-and-traditional-food/

The facts:

  • Multidisciplinairy team of international students
  • Interesting and diverse scholars
  • Combination of lectures, group work and excursions
  • 2 weeks in Ghent from 4-15 February (re-exam week and first week period 4)
  • 3-6 ECTS (depending on the choice for an extra assignment)
  • All costs reimbursed, except for 25% of the travel costs
  • Deadline: Wednesday 28 November!

Traditional foods at IP in Romania (7) Student reflection

Four previous blogs reported on the Intensive Program on Traditional Foods in Romania which took place during the first weeks of February. Students who participated were asked to reflect on their experiences.

Written by Rineke Boonen.

Saturday the 28th of January the time was come. Four students from Wageningen University replaced Wageneningen for two weeks Cluj-Napoca in Romania. We went to the cold Romania (-20C!) to take part at the Intensive Programme (IP) with the subject:”Microbes and traditional Foods: Competitors or allies”. Continue reading

Traditional Foods at IP Romania (6) Student reflection

Four previous blogs reported on the Intensive Program on Traditional Foods in Romania which took place during the first weeks of February. Students who participated reflect on their experiences.

Written by Hylke Sibtsen

While watching the airplanes departing from Schiphol airport take-off from a runway with perfectly white lanes of snow on either side I wondered what the IP in Cluj-Napoca Romania would bring. Besides a little bit of information concerning the topic, “Microbes and traditional foods: competitors or allies?”, and that each participating country would present several traditional products of their country or region, I didn’t know what to expect from the IP.

Continue reading

Traditional Foods at IP Romania (5) Student reflection

Four previous blogs reported on the Intensive Program on Traditional Foods in Romania which took place during the first weeks of February. Students who participated reflect on their experiences.

Written by Cho-Ye Yuen

picture: Stefanos Nastis - Valea Draganului

Not knowing what to expect, we arrived in Cluj-Napoca, where it was minus 15 degrees during the day and minus 20 during the night and everywhere was covered with snow. The first day started off well, students from different countries brought their own traditional food and held a presentations about it. Afterwards there was this big tasting where we enjoyed parmigiano reggiano aged 12 and 48 months, French saucisson, different kinds of cheeses and cakes, smoked bacon and off course accompanied by some drinks: strong liquors from Poland and Romania such as plum brandy. The next day was more serious and started with lectures from professors all over Europe. Assignments were given and working in groups with different nationalities was not unfamiliar when you come from Wageningen.

Continue reading

Traditional foods at IP in Romania (4)

As argued in previous blogs on the IP in Romania, the category ‘traditional’ is socially constructed by social relations based on current perceptions of ‘tradition’. Foods celebrated and successfully marketed now as traditional, a positive category which offsets itself against placeless, mass-produced, standardised foods, can have a troubled social history. Some of these foods came into being as a result of social inequality, social injustice or exploitation. This part of the history usually disappears in current marketing efforts which show romanticized images of the countryside and small-scale farming. Continue reading

Traditional foods at IP in Romania (3)

At the IP in Romania (see two earlier blogs) students study various aspects related to traditional foods, from discussions over micro-organisms and hygiene rules to marketing and rural development. The category ‘traditional’ is a social construction, what is considered traditional changes with time and cultural context. Tradition is influenced by new techniques and innovations; which one is allowed and which one is not? But also by current food cultures and the customer base to which traditional foods appeal. Traditional foods often carry one or more labels to protect these products against imitation. This is necessary as customers are usually cultural outsiders, urban consumers, tourists or consumers in other countries. Without a cultural reference point, they can’t judge on their own whether the product is traditionally produced and thus as authentic as claimed. Continue reading

Traditional foods at IP in Romania (2)

At the Intensive Program for two weeks in Cluj-Napoca, students from France, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands study the relationship between traditional foods and micro organisms. Next week, they will receive lectures in micro-biology and they will go on a study trip to the mountains to learn about Slow Food in Romania. This week, they study traditional foods from a social science point of view, with lectures from sociologists and economists. Some of these lectures deal with how to market traditional foods, which are credence foods. Adding the category ‘traditional’ adds value/credence to the food, similar to the category ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’. An apple is not just an apple anymore but an órganic apple, which brings a world of associations and symbolic connections to the product. Once a credence food, it is vulnerable to cheating practices, how to distinguish the ‘real’ traditional food from its wannabee imitations? (see short BBC item on camenbert) Continue reading

Traditional foods at IP in Romania

Two weeks of Intensive Program are currently in progress in Cluj-Napoca, in the North West of Romania. Coming from 7 different countries, 42 students are learning about Traditional foods in relation to micro organisms. The course is international and interdisciplinary, this week they first had lectures in Sensory Analysis from colleagues of France, Belgium and Denmark and yesterday they started with the social science part in which I gave the first lecture on Food Culture & Authenticity.

We started the week on Monday with student presentations of Traditional Foods from their countries which we closed with a tasting session on the many products they brought. I used many of their examples in my lecture yesterday. For example, not one of the products presented was related to the ‘breakthrough’ of new preservation techniques (such as freezing) which developed simultanously with industrialisation. Of course, but without realising I found out, everybody had chosen products that had ‘old’ preservation techniques such as salting, smoking and fermenting.

A product such as sour cabbage was presented as typical for Romania but disputed by other students, for sauerkraut – zuurkool  is a typical winterfood in many Eastern and Northern European countries. Cabbage, Pork, Cheese, Fruits such as plums, Walnuts were among the main ingredients of many traditional foods presented. Traditional because these products are rooted in rural self-subsistance household preservation. Pork, for example, is the pride of Romania. One of the traditional foods presented by a Romanian student group was the Ignat on the 20th of December. On this day, families in rural areas gather together and sacrifice the pig they have kept for this reason. It is a big ritual with particular techniques involved and roles to play for different members of the household. More than once, I heard the ‘joke’ that pork is the vegetable for Romanians.