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C of I senior studies organic farming in Italy

College of Idaho student Katy Stewart has a passion for local and sustainable food. During her three years at The College of Idaho, the senior from Coeur d’Alene has cultivated that passion by working with local farmers and her fellow students to make the C of I campus a more sustainable environment. Stewart has improved the College’s recycling program, put in countless hours tending the campus’ organic garden, raised chickens, organized Earth Day and low-carbon diet awareness activities and established the C of I as a pickup location for local food co-op Idaho’s Bounty.

This summer, Stewart is taking her passion overseas to work as a farmhand at an organic cheese farm in the Calabria region of southern Italy. Stewart will be in Italy from May 22 through Aug. 11, helping her host farm family raise and care for 500 sheep and 100 goats while learning the process of making traditional Italian cheeses.

The project, made possible by Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is Stewart’s senior honors thesis for her anthropology and sociology major. She also is majoring in environmental studies with a minor in journalism.

“My family is Italian-American, and food has always been an important part of my life,” Stewart said. “I want to do this project because I’m curious to see how food is produced in other parts of the world as compared to how we produce it here. I’m particularly excited to go to Italy because Americans really like to eat ‘Italian’ food, but I’m not sure if it’s ‘real’ Italian food. I can’t wait to find out.”

Stewart has prepared for the project by taking Italian language classes and working at a local farm in Parma. Her thesis will focus on comparing and contrasting her experiences at each farm, from the way the animals are raised and fed to the methods used for harvesting, producing and selling farm goods.

Stewart is keeping a blog, “Until We Eat Again,” with information about the Italy project and her interests in local food. She will be making weekly posts from Italy. To read and follow the blog, visit www.untilweeatagaintrip.wordpress.com.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.