Political Science | Contemporary Political Topics: The Politics of What's for Dinner
Y200 | 15786 | Barbour
Although our daily lives are organized around food, most of us,
especially the fortunate few getting college educations in advanced
western democracies, probably never think of it in political terms
except in the narrowest of senses -- food stamp policy, perhaps, or
farm subsidies. In truth, for human beings, food -- the control of
our food supply and its distribution – is power, and power is the
essential stuff of politics.
This course focuses on several aspects of the politics of food in
contemporary America, including
• food and political identity (if we are what we eat – who are
• politics and the American food industry (who designed that
food pyramid, and why is government telling us what to eat anyway?);
• fast food culture and the Slow Food alternative (you want
fries with that global controversy?), and
• the political implications of where our food comes from
(what does what’s on your plate say about what’s in your future?)
Class work will range from the creative (the keeping of individual
food journals and the creation of a class cookbook) to the mundane
(short papers, quizzes and exams) and will be appropriate for
freshmen though seniors. There will be a substantial amount of
reading, including fun stuff like Fast Food Nation and Michael
Pollan’s excellent work, as well as academic studies by political
scientists, anthropologists and sociologists.
No pre-requisites except for a healthy appetite for learning about a
familiar subject in an unfamiliar way.
Students taking the class for Honors credit must register for H299.
They will attend the regular Y200 class plus an additional hour of
discussion section weekly led by the professor.
The syllabus will be available in midsummer.