2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Food, Place and Culture

Revised Last Updated: 01/14/2009

Spring quarter

Faculty: Martha Rosemeyer agricultural ecology, Zoltan Grossman geography, Native American studies

Major areas of study include political economy, geography, food, culture, Native American and traditional food and agriculture.

Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.

Food is a central element in social exchange and definition of self and community. Perhaps even more than language, food is a marker of identity and culture. How have particular regional and national cuisines been shaped by local and global geography and history? For example, what was Italian food before the tomato's arrival from the Americas? How are local food traditions being endangered by globalization?

We will begin the quarter with an overview of the evolution of early humans and the history of food procurement, including the relatively recent development of agriculture. We will study the food gathering, cultivation practices and rights of indigenous and land-based peoples of North America and the Pacific Rim. This component will include introductory ethnobotany and field work aimed at beginning to recognize native plants of the Pacific Northwest. We will also investigate the interaction of people with their landscape through visits to local tribes and immigrant communities. Students will examine the scientific basis of various modes of traditional food preparation and preservation, including fermentation.

By focusing on a few case studies, we will dissect the notion of regional cuisine, which initially develops within the context of a distinct place with unique edible plants, animals, and spices, as well as its cultural perspectives. We will consider the Columbian Exchange, the dislocation of plants and animals following this encounter of Europe with the Americas, and its profound impact on ecological systems in both areas. We will further examine the consequences of colonialism in restructuring local food systems for the markets of Empire, and in "internationalizing" food, as in Indian curry in England. We will study how migration has changed the flavor of national identities, an example of which is how salsa has replaced ketchup as the most popular condiment in the United States.

Finally, we will look at the impact of globalization and the structure of regional economies on food, such as the effects of free-trade agreements on farmers and consumers. We will investigate how climate change is disrupting plant and animal habitats important in food procurement and cultural survival. We will consider alternative models capable of providing local food security, self-sufficiency and a stronger connection to place.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 48

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Special Expenses: Special expenses: $75 for food, entrance fees.

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in geography, culture, food, native plants and political economy.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen, Environmental Studies, Native American and World Indigenous Peoples' Studies, Scientific Inquiry

Program Revisions

Date Revision
January 14th, 2009 Don Morisato removed from teaching team.