Eunice Lee ’16 has been awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. student grant to the European Union (EU). She will research the EU’s food quality policy and how origin and quality regulations affect small farming communities. Lee is an environmental studies and French major and will be based at the French National Institute of Agricultural Research in Toulouse, France, throughout her research. She studied in France during her junior year.
Major: Environmental Studies and French
Hometown: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
High School: Radnor High School
Lee outlined her project, “As Europe grows ever larger, local producers and consumers are showing increased concern for the assurance of origin and quality of foods. In response the EU has established the protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) for agricultural products and foodstuffs,” she explained.
“The PDO and PGI food labels assure both the preservation of cultural and agricultural traditions and the producer’s loyalty toward providing a quality product to consumers across the EU.” Lee will examine how the EU regulation of PDO and PGI affects small farms and producers.
“Some of the things I would like to learn through my research are whether the EU’s policy on food labels of origin and geographical indication benefit rural communities, and whether such a system could exist in the United States,” Lee explained.
As part of her research, Lee will conduct a case study in the French Basque Country at the border of Spain to examine four agricultural products protected by the EU. She’ll interview the local producers and consumers of this region to learn their perspective on having to comply with the EU’s stringent food label guidelines. Ultimately, she hopes to determine if the European food quality policy supports farmers and helps maintain rural communities as it was originally created to do.
Lee will specifically examine four Basque agricultural products: Espelette peppers, Irouleguy wine, Ossau-Iraty cheese and Bayonne ham. She said she chose these because they represent four major areas of agriculture: vegetables, wine, dairy and meat. Lee will visit the farms and production sites of these products. She’ll interview residents of each focus region to learn how the levels and costs of production have changed since the adoption of their label and about the importance of the products in their lives and in growth of community.
At Hamilton Lee has been a digital media intern; a member of and publicity coordinator for the Campus Activities Board; Spectator arts and entertainment contributor; exhibit volunteer tour guide at Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute; a volunteer leader for Hamilton’s Community Farm; and co-publicity coordinator for Hamilton College Slow Food. Last summer Lee was a marketing intern for Natural Gourmet Institute.
“I’m really excited to have been given the opportunity to research an issue that I am passionate about,” Lee said. “Given that the Fulbright Schuman is one of the most competitive fellowships, I feel incredibly proud and honored to have gotten this far. I can’t wait to return to France next fall.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study abroad for one academic year. The purpose of the program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.
The Fulbright Program is funded primarily through an annual appropriation made by Congress to the Department of State. The U.S. Student Program awards approximately 900 grants annually and currently operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.