Recipes: The Chemistry and Math of Food

Spring 2024
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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Food is a crucial part of everyday life. We prepare it. We ingest it. Through our food, we apply chemistry principles on a regular basis, without even recognizing it. In this program we will explore topics in chemistry and mathematics connected to food. We will investigate answers to the questions: Why does popcorn pop? Why are so many low fat foods low in flavor? Why are some vitamins fat soluble while others water soluble, and why does that matter? What does gluten do? Why does spicy food burn?

This exploratory program is preparatory for entry-level programs in the sciences. Introductory concepts in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry will be introduced and explored. We will study protein denaturation and make mozzarella. We will explore nixtalalization and make tortillas. In the laboratory setting, students will get exposure to and practice with measurements, spectrophotometers, lab safety, and work on general lab techniques. Quantitative thinking for science will be integrated throughout our studies: by analyzing lab data, quantifying nutritional profiles, critically comparing diets, etc. Math topics will include proportional reasoning and unit conversions, and various families of functions (polynomial, exponential, logarithmic), with special emphasis in all areas placed on relating math to food. Societal issues connected to food will also be incorporated, and you will explore the foods of your cultures. Students will combine applied quantitative, writing, and oral communication skills in a quarter-long project related to food.

We will explore these topics through assignments, seminars, exams and quizzes, laboratory experiments, a potential field trip, and a project.

This program prepares you for entry-level science programs and courses such as Integrated Natural Science, Introduction to Environmental Studies, and Precalculus I.

Note: this program is a repeat of fall and winter. Students who have already taken this program should not take it again. 


Spring 2024 Registration

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Studies or careers in chemistry, life sciences, environmental sciences, health care, teaching, and agricultural studies.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Purce Hall 2 - Lecture