Check out a new project that I'm working on--The Pickle Project. My colleague Sarah Crow and I hope to document and present a wide range of traditional foodways in Ukraine. Ukraine was the "Bread Basket" of Europe, but it's far from a uniform place but rather a nation composed of distinct eco-systems and a diverse population. Starting with the blog, and hopefully continuing to "foodcasts" online and exhibitions in both Ukraine and the US, we'll engage audiences in an exploration of the cultural significance of food and sustainability in the context of social and ecological change.
Today, Ukraine's various regions are under intense pressure from economic transition, changing population dynamics, new food and land management policies, political instability and globalization. Such significant change can have lasting impacts on traditional cultures and landscapes.
Based on our own experiences in Ukraine and elsewhere (Sarah spent last year in western Ukraine as a Fulbright Scholar working on issues of sustainability and forest resources) we'll begin by thinking about questions such as:
- How is knowledge about foodways maintained and transmitted to younger generations among Ukraine's diverse ethnic groups?
- How have economic and social changes affected lives and foodways in Ukraine?
- How have environmental conditions affected the ability of local residents to be self-sufficient in terms of food?
- How are objects and traditional knowledge used in the food production and preservation process?
- What are the social institutions that support food production in Ukraine?
And why did we call it The Pickle Project? To us, pickled everything somehow symbolizes Ukraine. Pickling, food preservation, and the collection of wild foods such as mushrooms and berries, are ways to eat through the winter, sometimes provide much-needed family income, and connect to rural agricultural traditions.
You can become a fan of The Pickle Project on Facebook or follow the blog. And if you have photos or stories to share, people we should meet, or villages to visit, please let us know. Special thanks to Irina Leonenko for her great photos for this post!