Sustainable Food Systems

NRC/ENVIROSCI 554 – 3 Credits

Instructor: Dr. Eric Thomas – ehthomas@umass.edu

Course Description:                                                        

Food systems, sovereignty, and security remain major issues of concern for producers, consumers, and policymakers at the dawn of the 21st Century, despite significant advances in transportation and technology. This course addresses these concerns by approaching food, the environment, and sustainability from an environmental anthropology perspective—critically examining the relationship between what we eat and who we are. Over the course of the semester, we will compare past, present, and future food systems in the United States with those in other parts of the world. We will also explore topics including food security, nutrition, aid, immigration, climate change, sustainable livelihoods, and cultural production and diffusion.

Course Objectives:                                                        

At the conclusion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Develop research skills to identify similarities and differences between food systems in the United States and in other parts of the world and clearly communicate these differences to peers and colleagues.
  • Think critically about contemporary politics informing food production and consumption and identify key stakeholders in current debates.
  • Consider the relationships between food, land use, transportation, and recreation choices people make in the context of sustainability and environmental impacts.
  • Ask critical questions about food labeling, marketing, regulation, and policies and become more informed consumers and citizens.

Students are required to purchase the course textbooks:

Counihan, Carole and Penny Van Esterick. 2013. Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Haenn, Nora, Richard R. Wilk, and Allison Harnish. 2016. The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living, 2nd Edition. New York: NYU Press.

All other materials will be available via the course website on Moodle. All readings should be completed before the class for which they are assigned. Assignments are due on the date listed and will be counted as late if they are not turned in on that date.

Assignments       

Reading Reflections (5 points each, 50 points)

Students are expected to briefly respond to prompts based on the course readings ten times over the course of the semester. Reflections are due 24 hours class each week.

Midterm Examination (50 points)

This course will have one midterm examination. The examination is a combination of short answer and essay questions.

Food Diary (100 points)

Students will track their nutrition, calculate calorie intake, and compare with national (CDC) and international (WHO) standards before writing a brief reflection essay.

Food System Profile (200 points)

Students will prepare a 10–15-page paper that critically considers the production of one kind of food (e.g., industrial beef production in the United States, fair trade banana production in the eastern Caribbean). The assignment will consist of three elements: an annotated bibliography surveying relevant academic literature and media coverage (50 points), a prospectus outlining the paper and its significance (50 points) and the final paper itself (100 points). This “scaffold” structure allows students to incorporate feedback received on the annotated bibliography and prospectus into their final paper.

Cumulative Final Exam

The cumulative final exam is designed to assess how well students have satisfied course objectives as well as their ability to think critically about course themes. It will consist of short answer questions and a 1–2-page essay. (100 points)

 Grading:                                                        

Students’ final grades will be calculated according to the total points earned across all assignments (500 points total). Letter grades will be allocated as follows (all grades will be rounded to the nearest integer):

465-500: A

450-464: A-

440-449: B+

415-439: B

400-414: B-

385-399: C+

365-384: C

350-365: C-

335-349: D+

300-334: D

< 300: F

 Communication:                                                       

The best way to reach me is via my university email, also listed at the top of the syllabus. I try to respond to student emails within 48 hours during the semester. Please help me respond by including a detailed subject in your email, so that I can address your concerns as efficiently as possible.

 Accommodation:                                                        

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements. Please note, however, that to accommodate all students’ quizzes are generously timed and deadlines are disclosed in advance on the course syllabus.

·        Students accommodated with more time to complete assignments are expected to contact the instructor well in advance of assigned deadlines so that we can work together to identify an alternative.

For more information, contact UMass Disability Services (413.545.0892) https://www.umass.edu/disability/students/accommodations-students

 Academic Dishonesty:                                                        

Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University. Cheating, plagiarism (including un-cited use of Internet sources), unauthorized collaboration, and other actions violate academic and intellectual integrity are unacceptable.

For more information https://www.umass.edu/honesty/

I reserve the right to expand, condense, or otherwise amend this syllabus throughout the semester as I deem appropriate in order to meet the course objectives.

Tentative Schedule of Readings and Assignments                                                     

Week 1: Course Introduction

Monday: Sustainability

Caradonna, Jeremy L. 2014. Sustainability: A History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Pp. 1- 20.

Wednesday: Industrial Food as World Cuisine

Goody, Jack. 2013. Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine. In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.72-90.

Week 2: Habitus and Purchasing Power

Monday: How We Eat

Levine, Kristine. 2019. I Am A Little Too Fat, a Little Too Giving. I think I Know Why. Medium. https://humanparts.medium.com/i-am-a-little-too-fat-im-a-little-too-generous-i-think-i- know-why-e97cd25b7eeb

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2013. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.31-39.

Wednesday: Where We Shop

Lorr, Benjamin. 2020. The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket. New York: Penguin Random House. Pp.1-6, 185-212

Week 3: Certification and Regulation

Monday: From an Organic Movement to an Organic Industry

Guthman, Julie. 2014. Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, 2nd Edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pp. 110-140.

Wednesday: How Fair is Fair Trade?

Moberg, Mark. 2014. Certification and Neoliberal Governance: Moral Economies of Fair Trade in the Eastern Caribbean. American Anthropologist 116(1):8-22.

Week 4: Ethnoecology, Indigeneity, and the Environment

Monday: Campesino Ethnoecology

Haenn, Nora. 2016. The Power of Environmental Knowledge: Ethnoecology and Environmental Conflicts in Mexican Conservation. In The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living, 2nd Edition. Nora Haenn, Richard Wilk, and Allison Harnish, eds. New York: NYU Press. Pp.332-343.

Wednesday: Understanding Common Pool Resources

Berkes, Fikret, David Feeney, Bonnie McCay, and James Acheson. 2013. Defending the Commons. In The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living, 2nd Edition. Nora Haenn, Richard Wilk, and Allison Harnish, eds. New York: NYU Press. Pp.68-74.

Week 5: Racialized Production

Monday: Racial Hierarchies on the Farm

Holmes, Seth M. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.

Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pp.44-87.

Wednesday: Low Wage Legacies

Stuesse, Angela and Laura E. Helton. 2013. Low-wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor

History. Southern Spaces. https://southernspaces.org/2013/low-wage-legacies-race-and- golden-chicken-mississippi-where-contemporary-immigration-meets-african-american- labor-history/

Week 6: Gendered Production

Monday: Market Women

Babb, Florence E. 1998. Between Field and Cooking Pot: The Political Economy of Market Women in Peru. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. (selections TBD)

Wednesday: The Gender of Labor

Tinsman, Heidi. 2004. More than Victims: Women Agricultural Workers and Social Change in Rural Chile. In Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973-2002. Peter Winn, ed. Pp. 261-297. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Week 7: Access and Inequality

Monday: Food Apartheid and Unequal Access

Garth, Hanna. 2020. The Violence of Racial Capitalism and South Los Angeles’s Obesity “Epidemic.” American Anthropologist. 122(3):649-650.

Wednesday: Food Aid and the Structure of Hunger

Poppendieck, Janet. 2013. Want Amid Plenty: From Hunger to Inequality. In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.563-571.

Week 8: Midterm Review and Exam                                                        

Week 9: Urban-Rural Connections

Monday: Appropriated Carrying Capacity and Geographies of Responsibility

Rees, William E. 1992. Ecological Footprints and Appropriated Carrying Capacity: What Urban Economics Leaves Out. Environment and Urbanization. 4(2):121-130.

Berry, Wendell. 2017. The Idea of a Local Economy. Orion Magazine.

Wednesday: Shadow Ecologies and Sacrifice Zones

Swanson, Heather. 2015. Shadow ecologies of conservation: Co-production of salmon landscapes in Hokkaido, Japan, and southern Chile. Geoforum. 61:101-110.

Week 10: The Local/Global Nexus

Monday: On Authenticity

Srinivas, Tulasi. 2013. “As Mother Made It”: The Cosmopolitan Indian Family, “Authentic” Food, and the Construction of Cultural Utopia. In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.355-375.

Wednesday: From Gifts to Commodities (and Back)

Tsing, Anna. 2013. Sorting out Commodities. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. 3(1):21-43.

Week 11: Ranching and Farming

Monday: Farming Out of Place

Ofstehage, Andrew. 2018. Farming out of place: Transnational family farmers, flexible farming, and the rupture of rural life in Bahia, Brazil. American Ethnologist. 45 (3): 317-329.

Wednesday: Farmers and Conservation

Valdivia, Gabriela, Wendy Wolford, and Flora Lu. 2014. Border Crossings: New Geographies of Protection and Production in the Galápagos Islands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 104(3):686-701.

Week 12: Fishing and Aquaculture

Monday: ITQs and Other Property Rights in Fisheries

Carothers, Courtney, and Catherine Chambers. 2012. “Fisheries Privatization and the Re-making of Fishery Systems.” Environment and Society. 3 (1): 39–59.

Wednesday: Salmon and the Domestication of a Fish

Lien, Marienne E. 2017. Unruly Appetites: Salmon Domestication “All the Way Down” In Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Anna Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubant, eds. Pp. 107-124. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Week 13: The Future of Food, Food Producers, and the Planet

Monday: Slow Food and The Idea of a Local Economy

Leitch, Alison. 2013. Slow Food and the Politics of “Virtuous Globalization.” In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.409-425.

Wednesday: Urban Gardening and Food Justice

Levkoe, Charles Z. 2013. Learning Democracy Through Food Justice Movements. In Food and Culture: A Reader, 3rd Edition. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterick, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.587-601.

Solnit, Rebecca. 2012. Revolutionary Plots. Orion Magazine. https://orionmagazine.org/article/revolutionary-plots/

 Week 14: Course Wrap Up & Final Exam Review                                                        

 Supplemental Course Reading List (available via course website on Moodle):                                                        

Berry, Wendell. 2017. The Idea of a Local Economy. Orion Magazine.

Caradonna, Jeremy L. 2014. Sustainability: A History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Pp. 1- 20.

Carothers, Courtney, and Catherine Chambers. 2012. “Fisheries Privatization and the Re making of Fishery Systems.” Environment and Society. 3 (1): 39–59.

Garth, Hanna. 2020. The Violence of Racial Capitalism and South Los Angeles’s Obesity “Epidemic.” American Anthropologist. 122(3):649-650.

Guthman, Julie. 2014. Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, 2nd Edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pp. 110-140.

Holmes, Seth M. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.

Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pp.44-87.

Lien, Marienne E. 2017. Unruly Appetites: Salmon Domestication “All the Way Down” In Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Anna Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubant, eds. Pp. 107-124 Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Lorr, Benjamin. 2020. The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket. New York: Random House. (selections TBD)

Ofstehage, Andrew. 2018. Farming out of place: Transnational family farmers, flexible farming, and the rupture of rural life in Bahia, Brazil. American Ethnologist. 45 (3): 317-329.

Tinsman, Heidi. 2004. More than Victims: Women Agricultural Workers and Social Change in Rural Chile. In Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973-2002. Peter Winn, ed. Pp. 261-297. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Solnit, Rebecca. 2012. Revolutionary Plots. Orion Magazine. https://orionmagazine.org/article/revolutionary-plots/

Stuesse, Angela and Laura E. Helton. 2013. Low-wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor

History. Southern Spaces. https://southernspaces.org/2013/low-wage-legacies-race-and- golden-chicken-mississippi-where-contemporary-immigration-meets-african-american- labor-history/

Swanson, Heather. 2015. Shadow ecologies of conservation: Co-production of salmon landscapes in Hokkaido, Japan, and southern Chile. Geoforum. 61:101-110.

Tsing, Anna. 2013. Sorting out Commodities. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. 3(1):21-43.

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