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Anatomy Class Explores “Pasture to Plate”

Anatomy Class Explores “Pasture to Plate”
By Brandon Moore

The study of anatomy is true hands-on biology, learning the structures of organisms through manual manipulations and detailed observations.  The capstone experience for Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy 203 this spring was ”pasture to plate” learning, with trips to the Sewanee Farm and McClurg dining hall. For two days the class left behind fixed cat and shark specimens in the anatomy lab to dissect fresh chicken carcasses and learn culinary skills in handling and preparing chicken.

Under the guidance and instruction of the new farm manager Carolyn Hoagland and Professor Brandon Moore, students dissected a rooster and hen.  The class undertook a comprehensive study of chicken anatomy focusing on digestive and reproductive tract specializations of chickens. After some initial hesitance, students became fascinated with tracking food through the crop, stomach, gizzard, and intestines.  According to one student, the best part was seeing egg yolks forming in the ovary and finding a shelled egg in the shell gland.  

One week later, the anatomy class was under the tutelage of our esteemed Executive Chef Rick Wright in the dining hall.  The class discussed the transit of animal products from farm to kitchen and how culinary professionals handle and prepare animal products.  Students learned how to perform an eight-cut preparation of a whole chicken.  In the evening, that chicken was used by the dining hall staff to prepare a traditional Appalachian fried chicken dinner for the First Annual Anatomy Feast.

‌Integrated campus interactions, such as this one between the Biology department, the Farm, and McClurg’s, are vital components in a comprehensive liberal arts education.  They expand the curriculum with experiential opportunities for students to study the complexity of living things.