Food is not only the foundation of every economy since the beginning of human civilization, it also holds the keys to culture and reflects commonality as well as diversity in human cultures. This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the cultural meanings of food ways, and encourage students to think of food in new and challenging ways. Students will analyze food symbolisms, taboos, preferences, sustainability, and health and nutrition issues as well as the social, political and environmental underpinnings of hunger, famine, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and the global epidemic of obesity.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

• Develop an appreciation of the many ways by which food ways have evolved to meet human needs for nourishment and pleasure.

• Understand ways by which civilizations have been shaped throughout time by our desire for certain foods such as sugar, corn (maize), potatoes.

• Gain a broad understanding of selected cultures and their food traditions. Examine the root causes of famine, chronic hunger and food insecurity.

• Understand malnutrition, both under-nutrition and over-nutrition and how these preventable problems can reduce human health and productivity, increase the burden of disease and subvert the human and economic development of nations.

• Strengthen critical thinking and analytical skills.

• Improve and refine writing skills.

Assignments include:

• Assignments include: regular attendance and active, informed class participation; weekly response papers on texts/audio visuals/guest lectures; a research paper and class presentation on a topic of students’ own choosing.

Readings include:

Marvin Harris, Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal

William Arens, Man-Eating Myth

Sydney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern Industry

Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire

P. Farb, Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating

Viewings include:

Films such as Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation will also be shown in class.