Food: Coevolution, Community and Sustainability
Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters
What should we eat? How do we define "organic" and "local" food? Are current food system practices sustainable? What does food sovereignty mean? Why are approximately 1 billion of the world’s population starving and another 1 billion “stuffed” or overstuffed?
Throughout history, food and cooking have not only been essential for human sustenance, but have played a central role in the economic and cultural life of civilizations. This interdisciplinary exploration of food will take a systems approach as it examines the biology and ecology of food, while also incorporating political, historical and anthropological perspectives around the issue of food security and sovereignty.
More specifically, our interaction with nature through the food system will be viewed through the lens of both science and policy. We will take a biological and ecological approach to the production of plants and animals for food, as well as examine the transformation of the “raw stuff of nature” through the processes of cooking, baking and fermentation. Topics span a range of scales from basic chemistry to agriculture, as we explore the coevolution of humans and their foodstuffs. A study of policy will examine ways to support an equitable and sustainable food system at the local, national and global scale.
In fall quarter, we will introduce the concept of food systems and analyze conventional and alternative agricultural practices. We will examine the botany of vegetables, fruits, seed grains and legumes that constitute most of the global food supply and their selection through evolution and domestication. The study of policies that support local agriculture, marketing and the food distribution system, as well as how laws and regulations are made, will aid our holistic examination.
In winter quarter, we shift our attention to cooking and basic aspects of nutrition, as well as national agriculture and food policy. We will examine animal products, as well as the chemistry of cooking, baking and food preservation. Additionally, the structure of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as antioxidants, minerals and vitamins will be discussed. The effects of food policy on nutrition and farming will be addressed through the study of key legislation such as the US Farm Bill.
In spring quarter, we will examine the global food system, cultural relationships with food and international food movements. Tropical crops, livestock and food systems in the context of both the large-scale, monocultural plantation system and traditional, small scale farms will be studied. The genesis of the current “stuffed and starved” state of the global population will be discussed from a physiological, as well as food policy scale. Seminar will focus on issues of international sustainable “development,” and corresponding changes in diet and community food systems.
Students will directly apply scientific concepts learned in lectures to experiments in the laboratory and kitchen. Field trips will provide opportunities for observing food production, processing and citizen participation in the making of local food policy. Program themes will be reinforced in workshops and seminar discussions focused on topics addressed by such authors as Pollan, Patel and Mintz.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day
|April 14th, 2014||Karen Hogan has joined this program.|