Where does our food come from? Who produced it and under what conditions? How does ecology shape food production and, in turn, how does agriculture reshape the environment? Why do some people go hungry while others eat too much? What alternatives exist to industrial agriculture and how might we get there?
This survey course explores the production, circulation, and consumption of food resources and agricultural commodities over 500 years, from American encounter with Europe to the current food crisis. By placing food systems in their social and ecological contexts, we learn how they influence and are influenced by broader economic, cultural, and political forces. Grounded in environmental history, political-economy, and agrarian studies, we investigate the historic making of our daily diet and explore how we might cultivate healthier choices.
Given the broad and rapidly changing nature of our topic, we cannot cover everything. Therefore, I encourage you to raise relevant issues in class as well as to identify and share appropriate materials for discussion.