This syllabus is a living document and changes occasionally, depending on what’s going on in the course. If you print it out, you’ll need to keep your paper version up to date with the online version. I will always announce important changes in class.
There are three required books for the course; see the Bookstore list for details.
Besides the books, all readings that aren’t already online (and some that are) will be available through the class Zotero library. This will be discussed in class, but for reference, please see the instructions for connecting. The URL for the group library is https://www.zotero.org/groups/1647225/food-tech-society-unm/library.
Today we’ll review the syllabus, course aims, assignments, Zotero, and general plan for the semester.
Some discussion questions for class: What do you think of Warner’s definition of processed food? What are the aspirations of food scientists? How are economies of scale intimately tied to our understanding of natural food? What are key transportation developments that influenced what and how we eat? What’s the difference between food grown in the ground and food produced in the lab? Does all food boil down to chemistry?
Some discussion questions for class: Why were Graham Crackers invented? Why were they bland? What’s a sanitarium? What were they for? To what extent were corn flakes invented by accident? T/F: Most of the food items in the health reform cuisine emerged as the result of a particular vision of what food should be. Do clean labels make products healthier? Is hummus a natural food? Can there ever be a satisfactory label?
How were conceptions of and relationships to nature changing toward the end of the 19th century? Did people want to get back to nature? How could they? What were consequences for how food was represented and marketed? There might be a quiz covering the first two weeks of class. Refreshing your mind of the readings and discussions could be useful.
Note you have a bigger chunk of reading for Thursday than Tuesday, so read ahead over the weekend!
For Tuesday, we’ll try to identify and discuss the key themes and developments in Chapter One. It’s titled “Condensed Milk”, but the chapter covers a lot of significant historical changes. Who are the main actors? What’s going on?
As with all reading assignments, but especially with our book sections, read primarily for the the big picture and skim the details when you’ve got the main idea. The historical details are there to give credence to the broader historical claims, not because you need to memorize them.
As usual, I’ll cycle through some 3x5 cards to randomly sample everyone’s familiarity with the readings. As you have all seen, it’s obvious from this exercise who has read and who hasn’t.
Additionally, we’ll talk about what kinds of topics or ideas ARE NOT addressed by the author that we have discussed in class so far.
Come to class with your book review. Consult the Book Review Writing Guide.
As we rushed through in class, my hope is to get you to see what other people are doing and some new perspectives on the assignment. I am committed to my belief that it is super useful to edit other people’s work as a way of helping your own thinking and writing, especially in novel formats, because it makes you a little more aware of things that work or don’t. Also, not to be overly snarky, figuring out how to tell someone that something isn’t very good is a prized managerial skill that is always worth cultivating.
What you should do for TODAY with whoever’s essay you have:
Come to class with your early newspaper ad analysis. Consult the Ad Analysis Writing Guide.
Note that the recent Kimmerer addition is something I just read, a totally food unrelated piece (~7 small pages). My question for y’all that I’d like to discuss today is whether you think the kind of mentality or cultural lens used in this short chapter should be a bigger part of the food history books/chapters we’ve read this semester.
Let’s take a break from food history discussions and recharge for the second half.
I highly recommended that you turn in your book review VIA EMAIL BEFORE BREAK while it’s fresh in your mind and so you don’t have to think about it over break. But if your week is already crazy and you want/need extra time, you can turn it in after break without penalty. Consult the REVISED Book Review Writing Guide and the NEW Revision Guide.
For reference, a thorough explanation of course changes is on the syllabus home page. —
Your book review is absolutely due today via email. Consult the REVISED Book Review Writing Guide. This was updated after the first essay. Also don’t forget to consult the new Revision Guide. I’m estimating you can raise your score by at least 1 or 2 points by spending up to an hour revising your essay with these writing suggestions in mind. As discussed in class, it’s not just about improving your ‘style’ (whatever that means) but making your understanding and analysis of the book clearer to me, which is what I’m ultimately evaluating you on.
Sorry for the weird due date/time, but I wanted to give you more time to complete the assignment since you have reviews due earlier this week.
Email me your executive summary that provides an answer to the following: How can you connect what’s in the Carson reading, the Belasco reading, and how they intersect with our previous readings? Remember that about 1/2 your summary should be summary of the readings for this week and about 1/2 should be the connections between them and prior course material (your analysis). Consult the Executive Summary Writing Guide and the awkward screencast of summary tips.
Prepare an executive summary of the history of organic agriculture and, more importantly, how the present meanings and assumptions of the organic label deviate from that. Consult the Executive Summary Writing Guide.
For this assignment you’ll critique a website of your choosing that discusses whether GMOs are safe. Consult the website analysis guide for more details. As with all your assignments, the goal is to put the course to use in addressing ‘real-world’ discussions about the impact of technology on food safety and quality. The best essays will draw together various themes from the course and makes extensive use of the Jenkins reading.
These readings are fine, but they should seem a bit superficial after everything else we’ve read. Using this week’s readings on ‘natural’ food as a jumping off point, prepare an executive summary addressing the questions: What kinds of issues or questions to these readings miss? How does history help us understand the concept of natural food? If we have to define it, what’s at stake? What issues are most important? What kinds of questions should we be asking about them?
For this summary, and thinking ahead to the final, you should be drawing as much as possible from the entire course, not just this week’s readings (of course they will feature prominently as well). Remember to review the Executive Summary Writing Guide.
When accessing the readings through Zotero, remember that each Zotero item (a reference to a book, usually) can contain multiple PDFs. Double-clicking the item will load whatever Zotero has decided is the ‘first’ PDF, which might not be the one that you’re supposed to read. Clicking the arrow to on the left of the item will reveal all PDFs; once visible, you can click to open the one you need.
Drawing widely from this week’s readings, submit an executive summary of YOUR take on the place of ‘secret’ ingredients in convenience foods and what the role of federal regulation should be. I’m NOT asking you to simply summarize the readings, but to use them as a basis for a more philosophical piece on food additives generally. Questions to consider: What kinds of things should be allowed in our food? What is the role of regulation? How can it be enforced? How precise should labeling be? What are the problems with full transparency? How do we assess risk of food additives? Consult the Executive Summary Writing Guide.
Final Essays should be emailed to me before you go to bed on Friday, May 15th (or perhaps early Saturday morning). If you need a few more days, that’s fine, but you must email me to let me know (you don’t need to ask, just let me know). Grades are due in the middle of the week so there isn’t much more leeway I can give you.