Food and Society (Spring 2015)

In this introduction to the wildly popular new field of “food studies”, we’ll survey food, something we all love and care about, from a wide variety of angles. Food is both a biological necessity and a cultural pillar, both an economic keystone and part of our most personal routines and choices. Ethical issues brought to the fore by food and sustainability movements will figure throughout: what are our ethical responsibilities for the human and ecological consequences of the food system that feeds us? Is it possible for us to live up those responsibilities? How? Questions we might consider in this class straddle additional disciplines. We’ll range from the sciences: What makes a ‘healthy” diet? Can organic agriculture feed the world? to economics: How do agricultural subsidies work? to anthropology: Is there a bright line dividing farming from hunting and gathering? What is the relationship between food and cultural identity? to agronomy: What social forces shapes seed breeding and agricultural research? to sociology: What is the demographic link between population density and agriculture? to history: What effect did the introduction of Native American crops such as potatoes and corn have on the wider world? You’ll never look at your meals the same way!

This course is cross-listed as a Sciences pathway elective.