Taryn Ruf ’17 has been awarded Hamilton’s Bristol Fellowship for her project “The Whey Forward: Exploring Cheese Producers’ Blending of Tradition and Modernity.”
The Bristol Fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest. Ruf, one of three Bristol Fellowship recipients this year, will receive a $30,000 award and travel to Great Britain, Georgia, Brazil, New Zealand, Switzerland and Germany.
Ruf is an Interdisciplinary studies major focusing on the culture and politics of food production.
Major: Interdisciplinary/ culture and politics of food production
Hometown: Reno, Nev.
High School: Reno High School
In her project summary Ruf explained, “Now is a pivotal moment for the global cheese industry: renewed interest in traditional cheeses is reinvigorating global artisanal cheesemaking, but this revival of traditional cheese is incorporating modern technologies. Cheesemakers must grapple with the tension between the desire to preserve tradition and the labor and consumer demands more easily met by adoption of modern technologies.
In countries and regions where the tension is greatest and unique, Ruf said she will “work alongside cheesemakers, affineurs (person who ages cheese), and cheesemongers to learn how cheese producers make decisions regarding tradition and modernization. I will explore creameries ranging in size and degree of modernization to discover how a variety of outside factors influence cheesemakers’ choices while balancing tradition and market demands.”
Last summer Ruf interned at the Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Mich., where she created, implemented, and managed affinage (cheese ripening) rotation for hard aged cheeses. While on Hamilton’s semester in the Adirondacks she was an intern at North Country Creamery and an aide at Sugarhouse Creamery.
Ruf is a member and former co-president of Hamilton’s Slow Food group. She has interned in urban garden education at Thea Bowman elementary school in Utica and participates in Hamilton College Co-Op, a student-run intentional dining community.
Ruf has attended the Livestock Conservancy Annual Conference, the American Cheese Society Conference, the California Cheese Festival, and Vermont Cheesemakers Festival.
The Bristol Fellowship was begun in 1996 as part of a bequest to the college by William M. Bristol Jr., (Class of 1917). The purpose of the endowment, created by his family, is to perpetuate Mr. Bristol’s spirit and share it with students of the college that was such an important part of his life.