How do art and agriculture relate? At Ohio State, that question is being considered under its Discovery Themes. Dr. Michael Mercil, Professor, Department of Art, is aligned with the Resilient, Sustainable and Global Food Security for Health, an area of inquiry through Ohio State’s Discovery Themes Initiative. And as an extension of this theme is his new May session seminar “Re-imagining Ohio Food Landscapes from Mound City to Bob Evans Farm” (Art 5890). As the class comes to a close this first week of June, the students spent some time in the Department of Animal Sciences meat science laboratory with Dr. Lyda Garcia, assistant professor of meat science.
The purpose of the course according to Dr. Mercil is to “become aware of and think deeply about the language, imagery and sense of place that food systems represent in a dramatically changing global environment.” (To learn more about the course, visit the Discovery Themes blog post “Pondering the Invisible Landscape of Food”.)
Students, whose studies range from art to the environment and many topics in between, delved into the three aspects of the seminar’s focus as they toured the meat lab and posed questions to Dr. Garcia. Their inquiries covered topics as diverse as gender breakdown in the meat industry to hormones and antibiotics to ritual slaughter. In the course of the conversation, Dr. Garcia explained the safety and health priorities that govern all meat facilities, including those at Ohio State, and described other facets of meat production, including animal welfare, economics, terminology, nutrition, waste streams and usage, animal diets, ethics, traceability, and labeling—too many topics to cover in less than two hours. She welcomed all questions and encouraged her audience to seek answers to future questions from her and others who work in animal agriculture.
Just as she invited these students to sign up for her class to explore meat science further, anyone who is interested in knowing about meat and how it gets from farm to table should consider it as well. Introductory Meat Science (MEATSCI 3110) covers many of these questions, allowing the curious to learn more about the “language, imagery, and sense of place” that meat has in our food system. Dr. Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.