The Spice Trade Expedition

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on the hackensack river

In search of the disconnect between ourselves, the natural world and the food we eat, we’re going to slip on some boots, strap on a backpack, grab a canoe, and head out into the industrial wilderness of the New Jersey wetlands.

Following in the footsteps of a Marco Polo-esque spice trade, our expedition will travel by canoe past massive cargo ships and factories in search of the numerous artificial flavoring factories of New Jersey, the flavoring capital of the U.S. During our two-week industrial wilderness trip, we will interview factory employees, document our campsites and adventures, and cook with various artificial flavors in an attempt to bridge our understanding of the natural and artificial. This will be edited into a documentary about our adventures and discussions that ensue.

Our expedition will be lead by NOLS mountaineer, Ryan Van Luit, and myself. Our support crew includes researchers, video editors, writers, a flavorist, a photographer, and most importantly a cook willing to work with Doritos and Tofurkey.

The ultimate goal of the project is to create a documentary that investigates these questions in a manner that is entertaining, humorous, and insightful. Following the trip we will have an open invitation for artists, cooks, and those interested to join us for a 3-day Thanksgiving canoe trip through the wetlands where an all-artificial thanksgiving dinner will be prepared by the participants.

Project Created: 
October 2010