Week 1 online!

Hello all! I’m so sorry I’m not able to meet you in person this week, but I’m looking forward to seeing you online and getting to meet you this Monday.

As I noted on email and in our course blog, I’m at a conference all day tomorrow (Friday), so we won’t be meeting in class. In lieu of an in-person meeting I’ve asked you all to do a few things:

  1. Read the welcome post from when our class website launched, and look over our syllabus.
  2. Read this blog post through to the end!
  3. ReadChoi’s “What Americans can learn…” and respond to the video discussion prompt here. This site, Flipgrid, is one I used for some of my online classes, and it’ll allow us to see one another, introduce ourselves, and share a little info before we convene for the first time on Monday.

Missing our first class this week mean losing a little bit of the time I’d hoped to spend with you talking a little bit about the interdisciplinary study of food. I addressed this a bit in my first blog post, but here I’d like to show you what happens when you look up TED Talks on “Food.”

Things get interesting pretty quickly, especially if we’re looking at how disciplines might change how we think about food studies. If you’re an urban planner, you might be interested in “How urban agriculture is transforming Detriot.” If you’re interested in international policy, a global food crisis might be of concern for you. If you’re a STEM person forgotten space age tech might appeal (though if you have any understanding of scientific research fields, you might be suspicious that the space age holds technologies that are lost or forgotten).

I am interested in many things, but one thing that strike me when I study food are the economic systems that dominate our conversations. I’m interested in consumer culture, so when I look at the images above, I notice that many speakers are selling me something that sounds simpler than it likely is: easy solutions to poverty, computers that will farm for me, crops that don’t need water, food engineering, even space…without space?

The reality is, most of us will buy all the food we will ever eat. That means for most of us food is a necessity, but it is not a right. That also means food is a commodity that someone else holds. In 2017, food is closely tied to power. The sidebar of our website reads:

Our section of the course will focus on foodways as a form of storytelling, primarily about communities, economies, and cultures. In service of this we’ll explore the intersection of food as cultural practice and as governing policy. How are food cultures generated in communities, and how does that affect how we govern through food? How does policy implementation change practice on the ground? What role does private enterprise have in all of this?

There are many ways to study food. We will study food as a form of storytelling, and that storytelling as a way of narrating, transforming, and affirming power relations. There is a lot we can learn if we think critically about our habits and systems related to food. I’m looking forward to sharing this process with you!

Don’t forget: this work listed above is to replace our class on Friday. You still have separate homework due for Monday! Consult the daily schedule for details and links.

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