The symbol of globalization is the McDonald’s restaurant—a brand that is familiar around the globe, selling the same product in vast quantities, stimulating transnational flows of agricultural products, people, technology and ideas that touch all corners of the globe. How has the expansion of trade and investment in food products created political resistance and garnered support, both locally and globally? This course explores the politics of food, from debates over free trade in agriculture to the modern movement for organic, artisanal, and local food.

Global food is viewed by some as a threat–to local culture, to nature, and to life itself. But it is viewed by others as the greatest hope for preventing famine, facilitating economic development, and enhancing food security for all. For many people, the issues surrounding food and agriculture illustrate the maxim that “the personal is political,” i.e. that the choices we make every day about what to put on our plate have consequences for the collective good.