Perhaps the most the general public knows about Washington College’s Eastern Shore Food Lab, at least until recently, was its dubious distinction as being the entity that replaced the beloved Blue Heron restaurant. In a town experiencing a shortage of fine dining venues, it didn’t matter what the mission of Washington College’s innovative program was; it was a villain in the town’s quest to eat well.
But now that the doors are open, including its participation in First Fridays each month, the more the residents know about the Food Lab, the more they realize was a remarkable gem it will be for the community. And perhaps even more ironically, it may be the best thing that ever happened to those same people eager to eat well.
No one has been more proactive in getting the word out on the mission of this program than its founder and director, WC professor Bill Schindler.
Already having established a national reputation in experiential anthropology and with appearances on the National Geographic Channel, Schindler was well aware that it was his job to let people know what the Food Lab was all about and how the local community plays a critical role in its purpose.
In short, Bill argues that our modern food system is an extraordinary failure. America’s addiction to processed food has led to the sad reality of not only having one of the highest obesity rates in the world but that its victims experience chronic malnutrition at the same time.
The Food Lab aims to provide students the opportunity to understand that our food system was not always like this. Through the lens of anthropology, they become familiar with how human beings had extraordinary skills, developed over centuries, to reaping the benefits of their hunting and gathering with highly nutritional food.
Rather than leave it there, Schindler also wanted to serve the community he and his family have lived in for the past ten years. Beyond the academic hat he wears, the professor is also, at heart a grassroots advocate for changing America’s food habits. It was clear when he envisioned the food lab seven years ago, that Chestertown and the Mid-Shore region must be part of this culinary revolution.
In what we hope will be a regular check-in with Bill, the Spy sat down with him in the Eastern Shore Food Lab center last month to talk about our cultural history with food, the current challenges in our current food system, and his views on eating meat, perhaps one of the most controversial issues being discussed these days due to conservation impact and humanitarian concerns.
This video is approximately ten minutes in length. For more information about the Eastern Shore Food Lab please go here