Preparing a French Independent Study

Preparing to travel to France in order to study abroad for 5 weeks entailed quite a bit of planning. For me, the planning began long before the trip was near. Around a year ago, I was browsing the study abroad programs that Drexel offers when I found the Montpellier program. At the time, I was studying food science, with an interest in sustainable food systems and urban agriculture.  France, as it happens to be known as the food capital of the world, is an excellent place to learn about food. The Montpellier program, in particular, offered food related courses. It was the perfect fit.

As the program drew near, I decided that I wanted to develop an independent study. This would make the program even more relevant to my degree program; which, between the time that I became interested in the Montpellier program and the time that I was actually applying, had changed. I had stopped studying only food science and moved to a custom designed major program in which I was studying food science and environmental science, to incorporate my interest in sustainable food systems. I wanted to develop a research plan that would evaluate the food system in France.

After a few weeks of planning, I developed an independent study that would compare the U.S. food system with the food system in France. I plan to read Roni Neff’s Introduction to the U.S. Food System. This book discusses the United States food system in depth. It covers topics such as sustainable agriculture, food access and the affect that food has on public health. Each week, I will read one chapter from this book. I will then develop and answer my own review questions. These questions will highlight observations in the difference between the United States and what I am witnessing of the food system in France.

At the end of the term, I will write a five page paper as the conclusion to my independent study. The paper will include the information that was discussed in the review questions that I had developed. It will also focus on things such as urban agriculture in Paris and France’s initiatives to reduce food waste, such as the “ugly produce” campaign. This research will evaluate the differences between the two food systems. It will also hopefully allow me to learn more about food systems by observing one that is entirely separate from the one I have become used to.